Saturday, December 13, 2008

Usability of a Remote Control

I usually blog about user experience and usability related to emerging technologies and off-the-desktop applications, but today, I thought I'd share my frustrations about something that has been around for quite a while, the remote control.

My New DISH Network Remote Control

In order to learn how to use this sleek buttony device, we received free lessons and a handbook from the DISH Network installation guy!


http://www.sadoun.com/Sat/Products/Dishnetwork/Receivers/522-remote-121045.JPG

Too many buttons!

So I did a search and found
Chris McEvoy's website page devoted to the topic:
Usability of a Remote Control

The pictures below are from McEvoy's site, and demonstrate a remote-control "re-do" by
Apogee, a usability research and consulting services provider.

The remote control on the left is the "Engineering-Centered" version, typical of most remote controls. The remote control on the right is the "Human-Centered" version.


http://www.usabilitymustdie.com/images/usability_remote_control_3.jpghttp://www.usabilitymustdie.com/images/usability_remote_control_4.jpg

Unfortunately, human-centered remote controls seem to function only when traveling in packs of 2 or 3. Isolated from the pack, they are not helpful in controlling everything found in a home entertainment center!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Still not a fan of the redesigned one.

The best remotes are ones made for children - they are stripped down, have large buttons, the text (if there is any) is block face and bold.

The redesigned one is just less buttons with small type and small icons. Use the "white-space" of the device to make bigger interaction points. Not just elderly, vision impaired or stubby fingered users will benefit, everyone does.

Lynn V. Marentette said...

I think bigger interaction points are the key. I hate it when I accidentally push the wrong button. Lighted buttons would also help. Ask anyone who needed to fast-forward their DVR in the dark!