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TV Show Web Designs: Trends and Examples

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Looking at websites from major industries that involve various forms of media can be interesting practice. In the past we have showcased websites from movies1 and from musicians on the Billboard charts2, and today we’ll feature the websites of more than 50 TV shows. The websites of TV shows are intended to generate interest in the show to improve ratings, and to provide information about the show (and sometimes past episodes) for those people who are already fans of the show. To accomplish this they attempt to create an attractive, interactive website that appeals to visitors.

As you browse through the sites that are featured in this showcase, here are some of the trends that you may notice:

1. On the Network’s Domain
Many, but not all, websites of TV shows are located on the networks domain. This helps to unify the websites of the various shows on the network and can even help visitors of the site to remember what network a particular show is on.

2. Similarities of Sites from the Same Network
Like other types of networks of websites, TV networks tend to use similar layouts or design styles for the sites of their various shows. While things like pictures, color schemes, background images and other details will change, the basic layout will often be the same as the sites of other shows. It’s also common for the network’s sites to have a standard navigation menu or header that will also link to the other sites on the network.

3. Video
Not surprisingly, video is very common on the websites of TV shows. Most sites include trailers and/or episodes that can be watched online.

4. Vibrant
TV show websites tend to include a lot of color, big backgrounds, and vibrant images and photos. In an entertainment-driven industry, making the sites visually appealing and attention-grabbing is the typical approach.

Showcase of TV Show Websites Link

Californication

Californication

Dexter

Dexter

Lie To Me3

Lie To Me4

Dr. House5

House6

Fringe7

Fringe8

Curb Your Enthusiasm9

Curb Your Enthusiasm10

In Treatment11

In Treatment12

Simpsons13

Simpsons14

True Blood15

True Blood16

Gossip Girl

Gossip Girls

NCIS17

NCIS18

Family Guy19

Family Guy20

Listener

Listener

Bones21

Bones22

Terminator

Terminator

2423

2424

Great American Road Trip25

Great American Road Trip26

King of Queens27

King of Queens28

Reaper

Reaper

Canada’s Next Top Model

Canada's Next Top Model

Dancing with the Stars29

Dancing with the Stars30

Heroes31

Heroes32

Flashpoint

Flashpoint

The Late Show33

The Late Show34

Skins35

Skins36

Brothers and Sisters37

Brothers and Sisters38

More to Love

More to Love

Dollhouse

Dollhouse

Prison Break39

Prison Break40

The Middle41

The Middle42

Big Brother43

Big Brother44

House of Jazmin45

House of Jazmin46

Lost47

Lost48

American Idol49

American Idol50

Kitchen Nightmares51

Kitchen Nightmare52

Cougar Town53

Cougar Town54

Harper’s Island

Harper's Island

The Tonight Show55

Tonight Show56

Desperate Housewives57

Desparate Housewives58

Parks and Recreation59

Parks and Recreation60

Grey’s Anatomy61

Grey's Anatomy62

America’s Got Talent63

America's Got Talent64

Chopping Block65

Chopping Block66

The T.O. Show67

The T.O. Show68

Monk69

Monk70

Footnotes Link

  1. 1 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/09/movie-website-designs-examples-and-current-practices/
  2. 2 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/24/billboard-top-40-design-showcase/
  3. 3 http://www.fox.com/lietome/
  4. 4 http://www.fox.com/lietome/
  5. 5 http://www.fox.com/house/
  6. 6 http://www.fox.com/house/
  7. 7 http://www.fox.com/fringe/
  8. 8 http://www.fox.com/fringe/
  9. 9 http://www.hbo.com/larrydavid/
  10. 10 http://www.hbo.com/larrydavid/
  11. 11 http://www.hbo.com/intreatment/
  12. 12 http://www.hbo.com/intreatment/
  13. 13 http://www.thesimpsons.com/index.html
  14. 14 http://www.thesimpsons.com/index.html
  15. 15 http://www.hbo.com/trueblood/
  16. 16 http://www.hbo.com/trueblood/
  17. 17 http://www.cbs.com/primetime/ncis/
  18. 18 http://www.cbs.com/primetime/ncis/
  19. 19 http://www.fox.com/familyguy/
  20. 20 http://www.fox.com/familyguy/
  21. 21 http://www.fox.com/bones/
  22. 22 http://www.fox.com/bones/
  23. 23 http://www.fox.com/24/
  24. 24 http://www.fox.com/24/
  25. 25 http://www.nbc.com/great-american-road-trip/
  26. 26 http://www.nbc.com/great-american-road-trip/
  27. 27 http://www.thekingofqueens.com/
  28. 28 http://www.thekingofqueens.com/
  29. 29 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars
  30. 30 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars
  31. 31 http://www.nbc.com/Heroes/
  32. 32 http://www.nbc.com/Heroes/
  33. 33 http://www.cbs.com/late_night/late_show/
  34. 34 http://www.cbs.com/late_night/late_show/
  35. 35 http://www.e4.com/skins/
  36. 36 http://www.e4.com/skins/
  37. 37 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/brothers-and-sisters
  38. 38 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/brothers-and-sisters
  39. 39 http://www.fox.com/prisonbreak/
  40. 40 http://www.fox.com/prisonbreak/
  41. 41 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/the-middle
  42. 42 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/the-middle
  43. 43 http://www.channel4.com/bigbrother/
  44. 44 http://www.channel4.com/bigbrother/
  45. 45 http://www.mtv.com/ontv/dyn/house_of_jazmin/series.jhtml
  46. 46 http://www.mtv.com/ontv/dyn/house_of_jazmin/series.jhtml
  47. 47 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/lost
  48. 48 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/lost
  49. 49 http://www.americanidol.com/
  50. 50 http://www.americanidol.com/
  51. 51 http://www.fox.com/kitchennightmares/
  52. 52 http://www.fox.com/kitchennightmares/
  53. 53 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/cougar-town
  54. 54 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/cougar-town
  55. 55 http://www.tonightshowwithconanobrien.com/
  56. 56 http://www.tonightshowwithconanobrien.com/
  57. 57 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/desperate-housewives
  58. 58 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/desperate-housewives
  59. 59 http://www.nbc.com/parks-and-recreation/
  60. 60 http://www.nbc.com/parks-and-recreation/
  61. 61 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/greys-anatomy
  62. 62 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/greys-anatomy
  63. 63 http://www.nbc.com/americas-got-talent/
  64. 64 http://www.nbc.com/americas-got-talent/
  65. 65 http://www.nbc.com/chopping-block/
  66. 66 http://www.nbc.com/chopping-block/
  67. 67 http://www.vh1.com/shows/the_to_show/series.jhtml
  68. 68 http://www.vh1.com/shows/the_to_show/series.jhtml
  69. 69 http://www.usanetwork.com/series/monk/
  70. 70 http://www.usanetwork.com/series/monk/
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Steven Snell is a Web designer and blogger. In addition to maintaining his own blog and writing for a number of other top design blogs, he also manages an online shop that offers premium graphic design resources.

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  1. 1

    This was inspiring! Should help on the next project !

    0
  2. 2

    Interesting from the graphic design point of view. I’ll make sure to come back to this article when looking for ispiration for my next website layout. It seems like the all tend to use large background images.

    0
  3. 3

    Dexter it’s my fav ^_^

    0
  4. 4

    Awesome, awesome, awesome. Love ’em all. Except for the American Road Trip one. That shit just gave me a headache.

    0
  5. 5

    Nice, but you could have included some samples from other countries, the world isn’t america!

    0
  6. 6

    Most TV and video websites, the above included, are awful from a user’s standpoint. How well do these designs scale down to a smartphone and up to a large HDTV display? How do you navigate on different platforms with different video scale and different pointing devices?

    These website ignore all the research that defines good UX/UI and do their own things. Too much attention to shiny (form). Too little attention to the user and navigation (function).

    Stunning graphics do not equate to good design.

    0
  7. 7

    do people really go to these types of websites????

    0
  8. 8

    Patrick Ortman

    September 1, 2009 3:48 pm

    Richard,

    I agree with you to a degree, but understand that most of these sites have mobile versions and auto-detect. Especially for iPhone, which doesn’t do Flash video.

    Patrick Ortman

    0
  9. 9

    Most TV and video websites, the above included, are awful from a user’s standpoint.

    This.

    0
  10. 10

    It is great seeing screen shots of the same channel side by side so you can see the templated element, but towards the end of the article that was lost since they were jumbled up.

    I would have liked to have seen them all in order based on their channel. That would have made the similarities more apparent and inspirational.

    0
  11. 11

    I didn’t look at the source code on all of them…but any ideas on if these are built on Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, Expression Engine, hand-coded xHTML/CSS?

    It would be interesting to know, from an admin standpoint, what platform “most” of these are on.

    0
  12. 12

    @allan – Given these are big budget TV shows… I doubt many of them are open source platforms. I could be wrong… but they have money. A lot of major network sites reuse the same system for all affiliate sites.

    Answer: Built from the ground up but reused ad nauseum.

    0
  13. 13

    Most TV and video websites, the above included, are awful from a user’s standpoint.

    Not true

    For people who watch this kinds of stuff and are addicted to new episodes and characters are their heroes or imagined lovers or whatever, this type of design is fantastic,.

    Just bomb them with images of their favorite characters, shoot them preview of next episode or offer latest full episode – that is what they want as they are addicted.

    They don’t care about anything but images and videos, so all rules of usability, website architecture and whatever else doesn’t matter.

    Best rule of good websites: Give visitors what they want

    0
  14. 14

    @allan and Anrkist.

    I worked for an agency where we did a lot of work on NBC sites. They are in the process of moving everything over from a pricey enterprise class CMS (which will remain un-named) to Moveable Type as it is able to handle everything they need and sites can be deployed without large teams of programmers.

    Of course, this is only one network but I’m sure there are others who realize the power and potential of some of these out-of-the-box CMS/Blog engines.

    0
  15. 15

    99% of them are very very poorly optimized…

    0
  16. 16

    Great choice of genre, creative. Thanks. :)

    0
  17. 17

    Let’s be real about the purpose of these sites, they are suppose to support and sell the TV show and characters, that’s it. So from that point of view I think these sites are great fun on design as well as entertainment. If I wanted more I’d visit a news site or better yet read a book…. there’s thought… All and all this sites are a great example of what can be done with a lot of money. Good times.

    0
  18. 18

    In Italy this is unreal! These things don’t happen yet!

    0
  19. 19

    Some really nice visual designs showcased here, nice to see a couple of UK channels thrown in too :o) Some great inspiration if you are doing this kind of website…

    0
  20. 20
  21. 21

    i used to work in tv its design isnt its forte

    0
  22. 22

    Los Angeles Wood Designer

    September 2, 2009 4:05 am

    Some great sites for compare & contrast. You can see where the originality is needed.

    0
  23. 23

    When I first saw the post, I was a little bit disappointed. I thought it would be boring reading, but I was totally wrong.

    I have now went trough several of the sites’ source code, and maaaan, that’s inspiring.

    What I’ve learned, is that most of the sites uses enormous backgrounds, and PNG with semi-transparency to imitate opacity.

    One site even used a enormous PNG at like 1400x1400px… That I didn’t understand. Why would you make a semi-transparent PNG so big, instead of just making it tile??

    Thanks for the post… I am a true fan! :-)

    0
  24. 24

    I’ve been to the CW webpages… I think the color scheme and layout is awful. It shouldn’t even be up there. At least the other ones are more visually appealing, at the least.

    0
  25. 25

    I love how Fox dumped TSCC but they kept the website, it is one of the finest media designs I saw

    0
  26. 26

    I really like ABC’s design and layout sense. They tend to be well developed, good imagery to create the mood the show sets, and whoever they have to design and develop their sites really know their stuff. Clean, navigable, good imagery, good development. Developing ABC’s sites looks like a monster. All of the episodes, Flash players, back-end development and getting everything to tie together. Huge chore. But works great.
    MTV/ VH1 has some cool, alternative looking stuff. They need to go back to strictly music. CW is too teeny bopper to me. Not very navigable.
    NBC looks like they tend to throw as much stuff on the page as possible. I completely get lost trying to find anything.
    Showtime, HBO and Fox have similar layouts but are pretty appealing visually and they are decent to navigate. But Fox has some weird player they developed. Had to down load that to watch Family Guy. Stick with the industry standards for interactives.

    0
  27. 27

    But where is Deadliest Catch website?

    0
  28. 28

    From a design point of view they are all very busy and image-heavy. Listener, True Blood and Curb Your Enthusiam caught my attention because of their relative simplicity and, to me, they are the more attractive looking.
    Living in a third world country, with bad bandwidth (as I do), I tend not to frequent sites that have video, as they are painfully slow

    0
  29. 29

    For the most part, these are very similar and there is little originality in them. Almost none of them stand out.

    The Heroes one is a mess, though.

    0
  30. 30

    Most of the sites are not unique, about half of the shows on Fox all use the same template just different colors and images.

    Seems more like a collection of websites of the authors favorite shows as opposed to trends in the genre

    0
  31. 31

    @ allan ABC uses a proprietary system developed in-house. FOX uses the Alfresco CMS. Those are the only two that I have any experience with.

    As for NBC moving to Movable Type – that is probably the scariest idea I’ve ever encountered. MT is an absolutely hacked-together POS that has no business in enterprise use. Having just completed a large-scale implementation, I can assure you that there will be no shortage of programmers working day and night to beat MT into submission until it’s useable.

    0
  32. 32

    @allan. Forgot to mention, it is a LAMP backend built on the Zend framework.

    0
  33. 33

    감사합니다.

    0
  34. 34

    Its repetitive Sites.., Some are really Good..:)

    0
  35. 35

    Wooohoooo ….. Guys .. I’ve worked for the integration of the e4 REAPERS AND SKINS …. Cool man,

    0
  36. 36

    This collecting make me glad I don’t own a TV. I like the designs. TV sucks.

    0
  37. 37

    I have visited on the website of TV shows and I completely agree with your post that websites of TV shows are located on the networks domain.

    Domain registration india

    0
  38. 38

    Surprised that the Rescue Me site wasn’t mentioned.

    0
  39. 39

    Apart from the sites listed above, other quite similar but still characteristically different sites have also become popular/more common recently. Websites for shows that have been produced FOR THE WEB from the beginning. It’s quite an interesting trend. The websites do not support a show but are infact the main delivery media for the show. I am not sure what the proper name for them is, “internet series” perhaps. And episodes seem to be called “webisodes” respectively..
    There are quite a few shows/series & websites out there, smaller independent productions with varying budgets. one that I am familiar with is an internet series called beverlywood and I know there are plenty more, but I have only seen a few of them. The episodes also available on video sharing sites as well. As the sites and shows are independent productions (vs. big studios etc) in a sense the shows are very much like “hey lets shoot a film in our backyard with our friends” type of things which in my opinion leaves a lot of room for creativity and may result in some pleasant surprises. Its also interesting when you think about the possibility of getting success for a show/site, and how empowering the net can be for people with creative ideas.

    0
  40. 40

    Sorry Guys,
    I just realised the link I posted was incorrect and leads to nowhere. This is the right link to check out the online series beverlywood. (I assumed the url was the same as the name of the series) There’s also another link on the home page of the beverlywood site to another show that seems to have won a webby award this year or last year.

    0

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