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Monday, 06 October 2003

Digital TV Usability

As part of a UK government push to switch consumers over to digital television (whether terrestrial, satellite or cable), the DTI in association with The Generics Group produced a report on usability and accessible design. The report found that:

  • current designs make digital TV equipment more difficult to use than existing analogue equipment;
  • poor design and "non-intuitive" systems are the greatest barriers to using digital TV; and
  • 7.1% of the population (around 2 million people) would be unable to use on of today's set top boxes for simple everyday viewing, compared to only 2.7% with analogue TV.

The government's press release highlighted three "straightforward recommendations to address the challenges of accessibility" that could be put into place now:

  • making purchasing easier, including making remote controls visible at point of sale;
  • making instruction books and installation guides easier to understand; and
  • agreeing common design principles so that equipment is more intuitive to use.

The report and associated press releases are available here in PDF format.

48 comments and trackbacks

Thanks for the summary. Do you think they've missed the heart of the matter though? The problem is that digital TV is like a computer (numerous options, on-screen interface/navigation, crashes often, separate box from TV) whereas analogue TV is like a toaster (buttons on the main unit limited to on/off, up/down channel, etc and one unit.

Making manuals easier to use, standardizing the complex interfaces and getting the Dixons guy to say "this is the remote control" are small aids but digital TV will never be easy until it is integrated into every TV and you don't need to use the on-screen guides to watch a programme.

Posted by: Simon on October 7, 2003 01:01 PM

The Vanity Experiment Oct 8, 2003 1:47 PM
Matt Jones found this usability rap-on-knuckles report about digital TV. Not surprisingly disparaging as DTV is a bitch to use and probably always will be until someone re-invents the square-peg-in-a-round-hole remote control unit. Like the first compu...
Read more in Digital TV usability »

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