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Don’t put might on will.
99 replies and sub-replies as of Jul 19 2017

Don’t mix the “MIGHT need” controls right in with the “definitely WILL need” controls.
Yes, you need a keyboard to watch TV these days, but not as often as a pause button or a volume control.
All those little buttons the same tiny size, the same tiny shape, with the same tiny 6-point legends on them in dark gray on silver.
There’s no way to tell the difference between the “PAUSE” and “ABORT” buttons without looking and reading.
Don’t put the ejector seat button next to the radio button. It’s very easy—even likely—to mistakenly cancel instead of adjust.
Most frequently used commands are better issued one-handed, in the dark, without looking. Optimize the device for that mode of use.
Hide the ON/OFF button where it can’t be pressed accidentally.
Don’t mix functions. That’s better for manufacturing, but not for the user. Game play is not TV viewing is not video searching.
Don’t design the control to look pleasant and symmetrical. The control is not going to be looked at. Design it to optimize frequent use.
What is the remote’s most frequent use? If it’s three things, then you need three remotes. (don’t freak out…)
The stupidest way to deliver three remotes is with three fucking remotes. Isn’t there a way to put 3 remotes into a single handheld?
Of course there is! Just put the seldom used controls on the back, the ejector seat levers (mode, power, etc) behind a door.
Put controls used frequently, like volume, pause, rewind-10-seconds, on very large buttons with recognizable touch characteristics.
When the controlled device starts up with a manual action instead of from the remote, make the remote beep and flash so it can be located.
The size of the Apple remote is appropriate. It’s shape is terrible. It’s tactile feedback is terrible. It’s buttonology is average.
The Apple remote gives very few tactile cues about how it’s positioned, what it is doing, and what its buttons mean.
And all of those gray, 6-point, sans serif, cryptic, buzzwordy legends on tiny buttons…WTF?
Interaction design is not the same thing as industrial design. They go together, true, but ID **FOLLOWS** IxD, not the other way round.
There’s not a gamer in the world who wants a lot of extraneous buttons on their game controller.
Maybe gamers say it’s better to have a keyboard on their controller than to not have a keyboard at all, but that isn’t good design.
And don’t give me that Siri crap. Unless you are doing dead simple stuff you’ve done a hundred times before, Siri is harder than a keyboard.
I simply do not believe that any actual interaction design was performed on this remote.
I’m sure there was lots of research, but it all stayed in one building while the “designers” who created the remote lived in another.
I’m sure lots of good recommendations were made, but designers don’t MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS. They design, and their designs get built.
Of course there is iteration, pivoting, and other disciplines contributing, but hey, it’s not like this is Sony’s first remote.
They’ve been making the same basic mistakes in remote control design for 40 years. There is no excuse.
Actually, Sony does have an excuse: Their competitors are just as bad, no 3rd parties play, and we keep buying their TVs.
But there is ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE for people who call themselves UX designers to imagine reasons why this remote is okay.
The reason why remote controls are badly designed is the same reason why our public transit is badly designed: It crosses boundaries.
Lots of significant travel is interurban, yet there are no government agencies that go between cities. No agency, no transit.
Many of the problems with remotes stem from the need to operate multiple devices from multiple vendors in unpredictable configurations.
Each manufacturer wants to optimize performance for their own machines, but not for their competitors. Foolish, self-destructive behavior.
Clearly, what is needed is an open protocol for controlling audio-visual devices.
But a protocol is software, and the devices are made by hardware cos. Hardware cos are congenitally incapable of designing good software.
That word, “congenital,” is not an insulting adjective. Their inability to design sw is in their genes, in their priorities & organization.
Fear keeps hardware companies away from software, and they have every right to be afraid.
If AV companies subscribed to an open protocol, third parties would steal the market away from them.
Then consumers would buy branded remotes and generic monitors, amplifiers, and speakers.
Because as Jef Raskin once said, “The interface is the product."
This has been the greatest UX rant I've seen on Twitter. Thanks, @MrAlanCooper! :D
Please write this thread as an article/post so that can be widely read and not disappear into Twitter Oblivion. #applause
There is a protocol for control communication between AV devices known as HDMI CEC. There are variations in completeness of implementations.
So what you're saying is that as a UX designer in AV industry I should: A) Get out while I still can B) Fight the good fight C) ???
I designed remotes in early 2000’s and I always battled cost. Usable remote meant custom button pad = $$ = no bueno. It was soul crushing.
I worked installing home theaters about the same time and Philips Pronto remotes were an easy upsell. Course that depends on the programmer
There was another popular one that debuted at the same time too - had a big display. Can't remember the name but it was a bit of a beast.
There were a few, maybe you're thinking of Universal Remote's big touchscreen? Never sold any of those, too much of a price leap IIRC
We did sell quite a few of the hard button UR remotes and they were pretty good. not as flexible but no futzing with a touchscreen
Ever try the old Beo4 remote from Bang & Olufsen? It was pretty decent.
Yet another example of Conway's Law.
Much of hardware is outsourced to a Chinese manufacturer w/cost per unit as goal. I suspect no designer ever looked at it
The current Xfinity remote positions the off button just above the start/status button. I've hit the wrong buttoon 2 often.
Get em! I'd love to hear your thoughts on "smart" TVs that have to boot and have these crazy OS features getting in the way of watching TV.
This is more typical Sony remote of same period as Google TV. Red basic findable by touch. Green mandatory (Europe), yellow TV features
Blue mostly for external devices over HDMI CEC but also for in some internet video features.
My biggest victory at Sony was getting the external input selection moved from obscurity to that top left to be touch findable.
It was however Google’s first TV and they mandated the existence of full keyboard etc. (I was not involved and thought it would be awful).
Sales peeps said to engineers "we need a button... for everything!" Eventually ends up like a pizza with too many toppings, gross.
That's what happens when companies switch directions. Still I bet it's better than a computer with only one port.
IMHO, it’s the opposite: voice works really well for uncommon commands and search. Grammar is the best navigator through tons of choices.
Siri doesn't work anyway. Consistently crashes and leaves me on the TV app. Don't even get me started on THAT thing.
That wasn't a game controller. Pretty sure it was for their first Android TV.
Sure looks like it has game controller functionality built into it. Those top two thumb controls…?
It imitates game controllers, but isn't one. It's a kitchen-sink controller for a kitchen-sink device.
Sony NSG-MR1 Remote Control for Google TV
Home Audio & Theater
They learned in future iterations that watching TV and playing games are different things.
And that was (one of) my point(s). If it controls games, it has to be assessed from a gamer’s pov, and as such it fails.
I get it. PlayStation (part of Sony) designs some of the most amazing gaming hardware on the planet. Sony Electronics was aping its sibling.
They didn't understand gamers at all, they just wanted to have the just-buy-one-for-everything-you-do device, and made a total mess.
Things went the other way once gamers were playing each other online... Last gen PlayStation made this mid-cycle:
PS3 Wireless Keypad
Video Games
That's an add-on for the DualShock 3, for gamers who needed to write text to other gamers, back before voice chat was ubiquitous in games.
There are also specialized interfaces that work very well for auto-complete on a large list, using only the D-pad.
Playstation Store - Searching and Removing Items from Cart
Playstation Store Searching and Removing Items from Cart
This isn't to detract from your original point... The Sony remote for that Google TV was objectively awful.
But both Sony and Google have "got religion" about IxD in the time since; you can see it in their modern products. Give 'em credit for it!
*interjects* I think I have a deck with a photo of that remote on a slide
It's truly awful. You can almost feel the committee of Sony and Google and Logitech people writing the spec.
Would also suggest that buyers are attracted to lots of buttons as an indicator of lots of features / power / value.
By the way, they use this UI in other software products (not just the PS Store) eg PlayStation Vue. Expect to see a lot of copying!
(Also interjection I quite like the touch-pad text entry on PS4 dual shock because it isn't great but shows promise)
There's one for Xbox as well
If you have an iPhone on the network it asks you to use it to type as soon as you are prompted. All tv boxes have bad keyboard experience
Also you can just ask Siri to do whatever you want
But I agree about tactile. Big miss
I got used to the Apple Remote but found out that Apple TV can actually support my TV’s default remote!
This is why I have a rubber band on one end.
The fidelity of the touch control is too touchy. No response: huge gap Right response: tiny gap Over response: huge gap I hates it.
The app on the phone you'd expect to have BETTER fidelity but the right response is even WORSE than the remote.
I despise the Apple remote, for different reasons, but equally egregious ones
I constantly try to use the touch Apple TV remote upside down without realizing it. No quick back either. Very frustrating.
I put pink duct tape on the "bottom" half of the Apple TV remote so I know where to grab. Never had to hack an Apple product like that bfore
What a great idea
You must be talking about the remote for Apple TV. (I hate that remote.)
Apple is not like the remotes I grew up. Those were built for channel surfing where I find the apple remote a kind of set it and forget it
With lube on the fingers. You could simulate that part though with melted chocolate.