Using RKS' Unique Methodologies To Make the User Experience About the User Again

With a unique and minimal visual design that focused on content, RKS designed Sharp’s 2014 Smart UI that was an immediate hit. As leading technology magazine, The Verge, wrote upon seeing it for the first time, “Sharp has seemingly learned the same lesson that helped Roku and Apple find success: put content first and then get out of the way. It’s entirely possible to make something ‘smart’ while being mindful of a user’s experience. When sensible design is a priority, it shows.”


Mapping the Consumer Journey

To better understand the influence our design changes would have on the product, we mapped the customer journey from point of purchase through setup to actual usage. We used the steps of this journey to benchmark the competition and set criteria for design.

U.S. customers are overwhelmed by choice of seemingly identical TV offerings. 

U.S. customers are made to feel stupid by the technical nature of TV setup – it feels like too much work.

Managing connected devices is currently
a hack – users have to constantly
switch between multiple remotes and
user interfaces.


Designing For Mobile From the Foundation

After thorough competitor research the design team concluded that no remote control, no matter how well designed, could ever be better than a smart phone or tablet. To ensure consistency between television and mobile device UI we borrowed best practices from website design and built the UI on a flexible, but modular, grid.


Matching Users To Behaviors

By observing users RKS and Sharp were able to determine the user's proficiency with the UI influenced their desired interactions. This allowed the design team to cater aspects of the UI to different user demographics. The design team additionally concluded more advanced users will pair their TV to smart phones and tablets. These insights resulted in more advanced functionality moving to the mobile user interface, thus freeing the interface on the television to focus on more basic interactions.


Creating Two Interfaces for Two Behaviors

Regardless of a user's proficiency interactions with a TV fall into two categories: the kind where the users want to keep watching what is currently playing, and the kind where they don't. It seems like a simple enough insight, but it's amazing how few interfaces for smart TVs embrace it. 

For every top level category we crated two separate views, a "peek mode" triggered when the user brings up the menu, and a full screen mode activated with a flip of the remote.

Peek Mode


Out Of the Box Expirence

Mobile User Interface