PlayStation Home - Navigator

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The Brief

Sony Computer Entertainment (in-house)

2010

The most noticeable change, a new Navigator interface, adopts an XMB layout to organise and speed up the Home space.

Robert Purchese, Eurogamer

During my time at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, it was my responsibility to look after the UI of Sony's PS3 social platform, PlayStation Home.

I joined the company after the initial launch, so the Beta UI was already in place. Over the next 16 months I introduced a number of new features which evolved the UI onwards. The biggest of these changes was a new piece of functionality which came to be called the Navigator.

The Navigator was a system in which all of PlayStation Home's Spaces (unique hubs within the Home 'world') were categorised and rationally ordered. The Navigator also enabled a user to keep tabs on what their friends were doing in Home, and was also a great vehicle in which to highlight each week's slew of new content.

Development

The Navigator was a lengthy and important piece of core functionality for PlayStation Home, and so needed a future-proof design which enabled consistent and regular updates. I came up with a number of solutions, but it made sense to settle on a design that echoed the structure and mechanics of the XMB, the visual interface for the PlayStation 3, as Home's users would already be incredibly familiar with how it worked.

An early layout concept, employing two rows of circles.

Another early alternative, based on a large carousel format.

An almost final design, echoing the existing XMB design.

Icon development for the Navigator, and layout examples.

Favourited spaces, with each Home 'chip' changing the background colour.

On top of this underlying framework, I made the aesthetics bold and bright, assigning each section a colour reference that could be used to identify it moving forwards. The background visuals change dynamically when a user scrolls horizontally through each section. Spaces can be favourited or added to a download queue, and I devised a system of iconography to communicate these actions clearly and without the need for further text.

I also designed a variety of different 'skins' for the Navigator, premium themes based on differing design aesthetics, that were intended to be used as extra revenue stream for PlayStation Home, alongside the purchase of the in-game items.

A PlayStation Home theme. I nick-named this one 'Lava Lamp'.

A school desk theme. Strictly for swots and teacher's pets.

A Navigator skin based on hand-drawn Home arcade game, Scribble Shooter.

A splotchy, inky, high-contrast theme.

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