Design Critique: Samsung Smart TV Web Browser

Samsung Logo


The Samsung Smart TV is a television set that is intended to go beyond the conventional TV. It allows for video and music streaming, app based games, and also web browsing. This Critique will focus on the function of the Samsung Smart TV’s web browser app that allows users to connect to and browse the internet.

Picture of BrowserFig. 1 The Browser Interface

Suggestion 1: Create a More Intuitive Mapping

When browsing the web, users tend to have a more satisfying experience when they are able to navigate quickly and reflexively. This is why it is very important for the layout and mapping of a browsing interface to be intuitive to the user. One such improvement that can be made to the smart TV’s web browser is both the “refresh” button and the “backwards” and “forwards” buttons. Currently, each of these buttons are on the far left end of the browser, opposite of the address bar and without prior knowledge to this it might even go unnoticed, as for a moment I thought there wasn’t a refresh button at all.

Address barFig. 2 Backwards, Forwards, and Refresh Buttons

To make this more intuitive, it would be a good idea to map these buttons closer to the address bar, because it is the addresses that they are controlling. Naturally, if the user wants to control what address, or website, they want to go to, whether it be typing in a new address or going back to a previous or forward to a next one, their eyes will naturally be drawn to the address bar. Putting the backwards and forwards buttons to the direct left of the address bar and the refresh button to the direct right (or vice versa) will keep the buttons all in close proximity to the very thing they are controlling.

Another way to improve the mapping would be to change how scrolling is mapped to the TV’s remote. In order to scroll up and down on the browser, you have to hit the rewind button to scroll up and the fast forward button to scroll down.

ScrollFig. 3 Labels indicating how to Scroll

Rewind and fast forward are buttons that are located near the bottom of the remote, left and right, respectively. Rewind being to the left and fast forward being to the right are universal concepts engraved into our culture for a long time. Having a function that controls up and down mapped onto buttons that are for left and right is highly counter intuitive and without the label on the screen a user would not have thought that would work. A more proper way to map scrolling up and down to the remote would be to use the “channel” buttons which are currently assigned to nothing when in the web browser, and the up and down arrow buttons are assigned to the cursor or selecting parts of the screen. This will make the mapping feel a lot more natural as it connects with the action of moving up and down.

Picture of TV RemoteFig. 4 Samsung Smart TV Remote

Suggestion 2: Removing Unnecessary Feedback

The TV’s remote has obvious feedback when pressing buttons by the very tactile nature of it by mere sense of touch when it is compressed. But in addition to this the TV itself has a red light that will rapidly blink when a button is pressed, indicating to the user that their actions worked. While this is great feedback, the light will go off even if the action has no outcome to the TV. For instance, there are a set amount of buttons needed on the remote to interact with the web browser, but even when pressing, for example, the channel button you will still see the red light blinking but nothing will happen. In this case, the feedback is unnecessary and removing it will indicate to the user that the button pressed has no action for the current interface.