consoles

Surfing the net from a dedicated gaming console is not something new, in fact the ability to connect your gaming device to the internet was first introduced back in 1997 with the Game.com which allowed user to connect a dial-up modem and then check their email and browse the internet. However still to this day many designers ignore or pay very little attention to game console browsers when designing a new site. However there are some things that you need to remember when you are designing for a gaming console, added here are some of the most important things to remember, feel free to let us know if you think we forgot something.

Perhaps the biggest reason why so little importance has been given to the gaming consoles is that even though many households own either a Wii U, Wii, Xbox or Playstation, there is still a relatively small number that uses these devices to surf the web. The biggest problem is that these devices were not built for internet browsing and therefore they simply feel clunky when used to navigate the web.

According to StatCounter, the Sony PS3 accounts for just 0.1% of all web activity. Wii and Xbox browsers don’t even appear in the chart, although that’s possibly because they’re intermingled with Opera and IE9 statistics.

What consoles should be tested?

So the first thing you should decide when making your website more console friendly is what consoles will you test your site on, of course we know that you will not be able to test your site on every gaming device on the market, however it is recommended that you test on at least two major platforms so you can create as user friendly a website as possible.

  1. Consoles that plug into a TV screen, such as the Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3, and Microsoft Xbox 360.
  2. Handheld consoles such as Sony’s PSP, PS Vita and Nintendo’s DS and 3DS.

Different Consoles, different Challenges

Each different console brings with it different challenges, the biggest challenge is that even though the resolution is often higher than normal screens gamers sit much further away from their consoles, furthermore since they are not using a mouse to control the browser their clicks might not be as precise, another problem is that many game console browsers don’t support flash or CSS features.

What can designers do about it?

As more and more users will visit your website from a gaming console you can use different progressive enhancements that make it possible for people to access your site’s content even on a device that doesn’t support certain features. Another thing you can do is make sure your website loads as fast as possible. Even though some users will visit your website from a TV capable of showing HD quality you need to remember that not everyone has a Smart TV and therefore you should make sure your site also looks good on older screens.

console.maban.co.uk is really a great resource for information on how browsers function on different gaming systems, UK developer Anna Debenham created the site that provides descriptions, controller details, screen resolutions, user agents, JavaScript support, Flash versions, HTML5 test scores and a wealth of other information.