Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Remote Control Devices Usability

Recently, I had been to my relatives' place & was watching television for some time. As I took up the remote control to change the channels, increase-decrease the volume, I was irritated as the remote control designed in such a way that probably the end-user was not considered while designing it. I think this might be an issue which many remote control gadgets faces.

As I was thinking a on it from the usability point, I had something in mind, which I have tried to jot down here. I may be wrong somewhere, but I am sure that any device & the way it gets operated needs to be designed while keeping the end user in the mind. That's what we are supposed to do!!!

As I visualize easy-to-use, usable remote control device design:
To make it best usable, fundamental thing to start was to "keep minimum". I have considered the minimum but core functions for a remote control for a television. Respective changes needs to be considered while designing a device-specific control gadget.

  • Power button on extreme top left becomes handy & allows quick-use.

  • Mute on extreme right stands out & allows users to use it instantly when it really needs to be. Generally, users keep finding the 'Mute' button when actually users need it quickly most of the time.

  • Volume & Channels should be navigational with UP & Down arrows, rather then back & forward arrows. For users, it is easy-to-understand & becomes usable.

  • Channel numbers should be clean & preferably with no other key combinations (for example, a key assigned to some other functionality by pressing an additional key like “Function” , etc; which many a times confuses users who are not so tech-savvy.

  • A remote control device should have minimal buttons on; so that it can make the users life better, not worst. If advanced functions are on it, they can be used the bottom part of the remote device; which is ‘not-so-prominent’ area & as well as comforts the user by not mixing the ‘regular-use’ functionality with some ‘rare-use advanced functions’.

  • Preferably, a brand name should be followed by the model no of the remote device; which helps the user to buy the same in the future by simply referring that device / model id; in case the device is not working properly or broken. This really helps a lot, when it comes to buying a new similar remote control device.
Please post your feedback / suggestions on this; which will help me a lot. Thanks.