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Guppy's avatar
New Contributor
4 years ago

Terrible Interface on Contour 2

While the features of Contour 2 system are a great improvement the user interface is terribleIt is like a combination of Windows 8 and Netflix.  That's bad.

When designing "web" sites or apps, looking at the user interface, one measurement of quality is how many or how few clicks it takes for the user to get where they want to go.  Our company does considerable research with real users and invests the time and money required to bring the clicks required to as few as possible.  That is one of the reasons why our app is award winning and being purchased.

On this new Contour system and remote there are almost zero user functions that happen with one click.  And even the most basic ones require several.  For example to record a program that you are watching requires something like 7 or more clicks.  How is that possible?  If you want closed captioning on or off, it requires at least 4 clicks.  That is nuts.

Then there are the myriad of other very poorly thought out interface issues.  To select a channel as a "favorite" requires 4 or 5 clicks once in the "guide" and after selecting how you want to view the guide.  Once you have worked through a couple hundred multi click operations to select your favorites you can finally view the guide listing only your favorites.  However, if you want to surf those same channels there is currently no way to do so that I am aware of.  It seems that the surfing forces you to go through all available channels which takes forever.  I could be wrong about this one, but if it is true then clearly no user feedback was gathered.

Unfortunately, many people don't complain because if you use Netflix you are used to terrible interfaces.  It scrambles your selections, doesn't remind you of items you haven't finished watching, you can't organize your list into "stuff for the kids", "date night", "action", etc.  It is just a mess of titles and they helpfully rearrange it for you each time to leave the site and come back.

Cox can say what they will, but it is obvious that the graphic designers had more to do with the functionality than actual user groups.  It is SO easy to get useful feedback from beta groups and it makes the product 100 times more enjoyable to use.  Spend the money Cox and either create your own interface or force your supplier to create a better one.  Oh, and while I was looking for a better option it seems that this mess comes by way of the cable box manufacturer.  Many of the user interfaces are the same format from different TV providers.  Cox could increase retention by a measurable percentage by simply making the user interface easy to use and keep the click count super low.  One time investment to keep more customers?  That has never been discussed by the higher ups?



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  • Bruce's avatar
    Honored Contributor III

    While you were expertly measuring the quality of the Contour IPG, did you happen to notice Contour doesn't have a cursor?  If Contour did have a cursor, you'd have a point.  However, it doesn't so the logic of your professional assessment is fundamentally flawed with a faulty analogy.  I'm sure 1 of your real users could have explained this to you.

    First, Cox doesn't own Contour.  Cox licenses the platform (Xfinity) from Comcast.  Therefore, Cox can't improve the interface.

    Second, like an audio/video receiver, the user interface on a cable-box is limited to physical buttons.  Meaning, if you want to "bring the clicks required to as few as possible," you could always program more or less buttons onto a website or app.  You can't add buttons onto a remote.

     - Closed-Captioning On or Off.  2 clicks.  Double-click B button.
     - Record a Program.  Unfamiliar.  I've never recorded a program.
     - View Favorites in the Guide.  3 clicks.  Double-click Guide button then arrow to preference.
     - Select Channel as Favorite.  True.  It is 3-5 clicks.
     - Surf only Favorite Channels.  True.  You can't.

    Third, have you ever designed Voice control into your award-winning websites and apps?  Didn't think so.  Can you navigate your award-winning websites and apps from across the room without getting off the couch?  Didn't think so.  Did you also survey your real users on another measurement of quality:  remotely controlling a device?

    People aren't cutting-the-cord due to an interface.  People are cutting-the-cord due to prices.  Beside, why would Cox invest anything for easier already bought it and will probably keep buying it.

    • Guppy's avatar
      New Contributor

      Clicks do not necessarily mean cursor.  There is NO cursor on mobile apps.  The entire point is that the current system requires too many steps/button presses to get where you want to go.  Your bulleted list proves the point.

      Yes we have voice command available in our apps and I am sorry that having an award winning app gets under your skin.  The point of mentioning it is that I am speaking from a position of being part of a team that created a relatively complex app that users appreciate for the easy and quick navigation.  We also allow them to program in shortcuts so they can get where they want to go with a single click.  In the industry it is called "one click navigation" and is highly regarded.

      I don't care who owns Contour.  It has terrible navigation.  Why would Cox spend so much money buying a system with an interface that is truly just as bad as Netflix.  As a very large customer, Cox could insist on better designs and beta user feedback.  It is called Best Practices.  Anyone who creates software, interfaces, navigation, user satisfaction understands implicitly the process and the points being made.  It is clear that best practices were not employed throughout the design of this system nor was any form of Quality Improvement Process.

      And, if offered another system with an intuitive and helpful interface people will eventually choose that system and it will be much harder to pry them away from it even if to save money.  Creating a patchwork of streaming channels, local channels, free channels, sports channels, special interest channels, movie channels, DVR, etc., is not worth the trouble for most people.  And in the end it doesn't save all that much money.

      And you don't have to be sarcastic to have a grown up conversation.

      • Bruce's avatar
        Honored Contributor III

        As far as a system input, touchscreens and cursors are the same thing:  point at something; press something.

        Cursors and remotes are 2 different concepts.  Cursors use fluidity and X-Y coordinates while remotes use fixed physical buttons.  There are advantages to both systems but remotes are better in some situations.  For example, how would I surf channels without launching some GUI obscuring part of the screen?  I'd rather press a fixed button.  Programmable "hot keys" could solve navigational problems but it would bloat the size of a handheld device to a brick.

        You have to realize the root of this problem is we'll never get innovation as long as providers have the lock on cable-boxes.  The FCC needs to allow anyone to build and sell cable-boxes and be compatible with any provider.  Could you image the competition between Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft?  I could easily imagine a handheld device with buttons and perhaps an adequately sized touchpad for a GUI.  Until then, complaining to Cox won't solve anything because you've been buying whatever Cox gave you for 20 years.

        Moreover, as with your Netflix observation, users are immune to crappy apps if the service is good.  SiriusXM has a crappy app but I like its service.  Is this blasphemous to your company?

        Grownups also don't try to impress others with promotional, self-aggrandizing, conceited nonsense.  How good of a company could you be if you need to hire people to count clicks?  "1, 2, 3..."

  • BenS1's avatar
    Former Moderator
    Hi @Guppy

    We will inform our video team of all of your suggestions. We appreciate the feedback.

    Ben S.
    Cox Support Forums Moderator
    • Guppy's avatar
      New Contributor

      I hope the comments actually get to management of the team.  I sincerely want Cox to have a useful and satisfying system.  I have no idea who checks these systems out and gives them a thumbs up.  They are so clunky and not intuitive.  It seems like everyone is going after the same "look" whether it is user friendly or not.

      We have been with Cox Cable for two decades and are cheering for you.  But if someone could take all the newest technology and offerings and put them into a highly useful system where the navigation is almost transparent because it is so intuitive and easy, then we would go with that company in a heartbeat.

      Not sure of the 5 or 10 plan for Cox but you are definitely NOT making the most of this particular moment in time when entertainment is so fractured and in flux.  Cox could be locking in loyal customers by giving them something to talk about, not just more of the same with the same purchased system all the other TV providers are using.  You could be running away from the pack but it seems you are comfortable right in the middle with the rest.

      Thank you

  • bearone2's avatar
    Contributor III

    i find it's easy to use, i have my favorites after clicking "last channel"....see the last 9.

    how big of a tv do you have?