Design of the Sirius Radio Interface: An Interview with Stephen Wilcox

Keywords HFES Bulletin Design of the Sirius Radio Interface
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Responding to a request from HFES for human factors/ergonomics success stories that the Society can use to promote the field, HFES Member Stephen Wilcox wrote to tell us that his firm, Design Science, had assisted in the redesign of the Sirius satellite radio user interface. Considering that Sirius now has four million subscribers and is not the only such service available, a usable interface is a critical element in the company’s success. A quick search on the Internet
attests to the ease of use of the Sirius user interface (UI).

User reviews include comments such as “the remote works great,” “a breeze to install,” “awesome little receiver,” and “easy to set up.” We asked Steve to describe his firm’s experiences with this interface redesign project, including any challenges and lessons learned he could share with HFES members.

Q: From its inception, a Sirius product development goal was to design an easy-to-use interface. Can you briefly walk us through the Sirius UI design process?
A: We developed the interfaces for two Sirius products that have been finalized so far – both on the Xact Communication Web site ( ReGo, a combination MP3 player and satellite radio with a flash memory; and Visor, a small, portable satellite radio with a one-line display. Our client was US Electronics, the company that designs and distributes the Sirius devices.

The design process involved the following steps:
• Examination and review of existing product interfaces.
• Creation of the navigational structure in Visio.
• Creation of alternative screens.
• Creation of a working prototype in Macromedia Director.
• Usability testing of the prototype.
• Refinement of the prototype based on the testing results and
creation of usability recommendations for hardware.
• Delivery of the final prototype and documentation to the software

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Volume 49
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Defines standard
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Stephen Wilcox, an HFES member since 1984, is the founder and
principal at Design Science, a product design research consulting firm that focuses on optimizing the human interface of products. He has a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Pennsylvania State University and has been working in product design for more than 20 years. Steve chairs the Human Factors Professional Interest Section of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and is the only social scientist ever to be inducted into the IDSA Academy of Fellows.

Pamela Savage-Knepshield, Bulletin Features Editor
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