A few years ago I was at an industry trade show talking to an electronics engineer who had designed an audio video remote control that, in our opinion, needed improving. This engineer did not see fit include channel up and channel buttons. I tried to explain that channel up and channel down are kind of important (probably the most used) and asked why the remote did not have them. He was puzzled, and told me to “simply” convert the infrared codes and re-map them to show up under the page up and page down buttons, and have customers use page up and page down buttons to change channels. He could not seem to grasp that regular people actually change TV channels frequently, and naming the buttons accordingly made more sense than naming them something else.
We all know it when we see it – whether it is a great looking piece of furniture, a well-designed car or a piece of clothing that looks especially nice – design matters. Take the iPad – even a small child can easily figure out swiping, pinching expanding and more – all without a user manual. Now that is good design, and it is much harder than it looks. Sure Apple has a great aesthetic, but that is not their real strength. They figured out that people do not read owner’s manuals and did away with the need for them. Apple does not apply a veneer of design at the end of the process, rather the process starts with and is driven by design.
When we design smart home systems, home theatre systems, audio video systems, lighting control solutions etc., intuitive ease of use must be one of the main criteria driving decisions. Sometimes we have to tell people (gently we hope) that they should consider NOT doing something. Too many features, too many options and too many buttons will add up to too much complexity, resulting in a poor user experience and dissatisfied clients. Our systems are intuitive to the point where we do not have to supply “how to” documents; there is simply no need for further instructions.
Everyone knows how to use a light switch, yet we see lighting control systems designed with so much complexity that the homeowner has difficulty even turning the lights off. Lighting control systems can be as simple to use and understand as a standard light switch, and we believe anything else is a failure.
Anyone can run a wire and install a light switch, but designing a lighting control system properly requires a completely different skill set, and well above the capabilities of most electricians for instance. It takes training, and lots of it.
We frequently work alongside interior designers; the difference between a good designer and a great one are instantly obvious, AFTER you have experience with both. Same goes with properly designed electronic systems.
CEDIA Certified Electronic Systems Designer
Help! Our system does not work right. Here are the systems we were asked to re-do in just 4 weeks between Jan. 13th 2014 and Feb. 13th 2014. This unfortunately has been going on for years.
We are sometimes told our solutions are too expensive;...