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What Problems Are You Causing?

Television remote control 525705 1920

My dad’s Vizio TV comes with a simple remote.

Simple. Or so it seems.

Nice layout. Easy access to the commonly used features, such as volume, mute, and closed-captioning.

And it’s nice to have “quick” buttons for the most popular smart TV apps: Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Crackle. But my dad doesn’t have most of these.

And you can’t disable or repurpose them.

As a product manager, you must constantly be asking, “What problem are we solving?”

But you must also ask, “What problems are we causing?”

As the technical one in the family, I’m trying to create a TV setup for my parents that works for them.

For them, as for most of us, simple is better.

They have TiVo (still the best DVR but no longer the market leader) and Acorn TV (because British TV is great). They also have Netflix, Amazon Prime (mostly for “The Americans”), and PBS (I don’t know why).

To make this “senior proof” I want to either disable the app buttons they don’t use or, better yet, reprogram them for the apps they do use. And wouldn’t it be nice if the remote came with some little stickers so I could label the app buttons correctly?

As it is, I need to write extensive documentation on how to get to the various shows. And let me tell you, pressing the INPUT button again and again to choose the appropriate HMDI input is a terrible implementation.

For each suggestion on how to improve your product, consider your target personas and their problems. Will this improve the experience? Can it diminish the experience?

It’s not the product manager’s responsibility to design a great user experience. That’s why you have brilliant U/X designers (or should). It’s the product manager’s responsibility to evaluate the pros and cons of the implementation to ensure it’s helping and not hurting.

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