There's an excess of buttons ... —92 of them, to be exact, arranged on my nightstand in rubbery rows, seven different colors' worth, with overlapping labels that range in tone from clear and aggressive ("POWER," "FREEZE") to meek and mysterious ("SUR," "NAVI"). Following the model of usability expert Jakob Nielsen, I counted up the buttons I've actually pressed—not the ones I've pressed most often, but the ones I've pressed, period. The number was 34. I had a surplus of nearly five dozen....
So why should my television, a simple device that's not so interactive, spread so much clutter and confusion? Imagine if there were a separate door for each shelf of your refrigerator, and each of those doors had its own combination lock. That's the state of the modern entertainment center, and the hand-held devices we use to manipulate it. The remote control was supposed to make life easier, but instead it's led us into a labyrinth of bad design. How did we get here, and where are we going?
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