Electronics for household use are too complicated. The remote control is an example of consumer electronics gone wrong. Depending on how complicated your entertainment system is you may have up to six remote controls, containing hundreds of buttons. Do you even use half of those buttons? It’s likely that you’ll never use more than a third.

I’ve seen examples of people taping cardboard over their remote controls with holes cut out for the buttons that are absolutely necessary. One was called “Grandma’s remote.” The original idea might have been to help someone who knew little about electronics. But I wouldn’t mind having a remote with only those buttons for myself. Electronics manufacturers should take a cue from “Grandma’s remote” and make simplicity a reality for all of us. Making something simple takes time and thought. Confusing electronics are a result of lazy design and engineering.

We could all take a cue from Apple’s remote control, it’s simple perfection. It has four buttons. Play/pause, menu, enter, and a large circular button for volume control and switching tracks. Granted, watching TV is different than using an Apple remote for your iPod or laptop, but the principles remain. How many buttons do you really think are necessary on a remote?

Here’s a great reference article from Jacob Nielsen that provided inspiration.