Digital TV products need to be more user-centric: ITC study

LONDON: New research put out by UK's Independent Television Commission (ITC) has recommended that a more user-centred design approach is needed for digital TV products in order to ensure that everyone is able to participate in and benefit from the digital television revolution.

This was the central theme of Easy TV 2002, an event organised on 6 November in London by the ITC, the Consumers' Association and the Design Council as part of an ongoing initiative launched last year to promote the need for easier to use digital television equipment.

Chaired by broadcaster Muriel Gray and opened by Dr Kim Howells, minister of state at the department of culture, media and sport, the launch brought together designers and manufacturers of digital TV as well as politicians, broadcasters and consumer groups.

It followed the first Easy TV conference in November last year, aimed at highlighting public attitudes to technology, media consumption and digital TV.

While the functionality of digital TV equipment is dramatically increasing, user abilities are not. The greatest impact of this trend will be on the ageing population which has most to benefit from enhanced entertainment and information services, but who are the group most likely to face the biggest usability barriers, an ITC release states. The findings were based on a survey carried out across the UK of over 1,300 members of the public.

The research highlights the following points:

- User-centred design, based on listening to viewers and designing digital TV products and services for their needs, will help both viewers and industry alike.

- Users across all demographic groups, having used a range of current digital services, recommended that a number of simple measures including: fewer buttons on remote controls, clearer labelling on the remote, quicker feedback following responses to button presses and simpler user manuals, would make digital receiver equipment significantly easier to use.

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