Ergonomic Nightmare of the Week: Remote Controls

Why is every remote completely different?  There is absolutely no coherent design standardization of remote controls.  This is a problem because new remotes come into our lives so often, and each time we are forced to reconcile with the paradigm shattering design of our new remote.

remote controls

Usually we don’t even try to learn what most of the buttons mean, we just stick to what we know.  Designers should understand this.  New features are what drive technology forward, but if users are not capable of understanding them, then the innovation is lost.

Remote controls are the link between the person and the gadget.  The better the design of the remote control, the better experience we will have with the TV, stereo system, or whatever.

I don’t see any easy solution to the problem of remote control design.  Ultimately, the design of remote controls is decentralized in the hands of individual electronics companies.  This is why remotes are so vastly different in their look and functionality.  Having their own remote design gives companies more control of their products, but I think this control is at the expense of the consumer.