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Creating bespoke heuristic guidelines, templates, and evaluations for the Roku family of products




As a product designer, I created heuristics guidelines and an evaluation template in order to audit Roku's vast range of products for consistency and attention to user experience. These guidelines and this template would empower other members of the Roku UX team to compile necessary revisions and considerations for products and features moving forward. These guidelines would also inspire an evaluation method for laypersons as well as one for human factors and industrial design of future products.

Note that the deliverables that resulted from these evaluations are protected by NDA and therefore will not be shared in this report.

The Challenge

Roku’s suite of products was growing beyond its own watch. Interactions differed between versions and products and a consistent UX standard needed to be established.

I conducted usability research and heuristic analyses to inform a solution.

Evaluating Interfaces

Nielsen’s 10 Heuristics of Usability

Jakob Nielsen may be the father of modern interface heuristics, but there are many gaps and unanswered questions when it comes to navigating a smart television.

Roku's Interaction Principles

Roku’s design system was buried in a dated litany of guidelines on brand and voice. These principles failed to address the gaps of an ever expanding product suite.

Usability of Interactive
Digital Televisions (IDTs)

Solano et al. produced a paper attempting to define usability challenges specific to television interfaces.

Synthesis of Heuristics

Evaluating Roku

Roku’s 14 Heuristics for Interface Usability

I added four additional heuristics to Nielsen’s original guidelines to address Roku’s specific needs and modified previous definitions where needed.



IDTs are often navigated via D-Pads. Navigation in an interface should reflect intuitive X-Y axial focus. When voice commands are invoked, keywords should be obvious and flexible.


Environmental Constraints

Televisions take physical space and produce a large amount of light. Interfaces should be discernable from 10 feet away. Viewing comfort in dark environments should be considered when designing screens.



Roku applications should be inclusive for users of all abilities. Visual adjustments and audio compensation should be available for relevant Roku interfaces.


Roku Soul

Screens, features, and interactions should consistently reflect Roku’s soul, voice, and patterns. Interfaces should be playful, alive, and connect with users emotionally. 

Proof of Concept

To validate the modified heuristics as well as to weed out gaps, I conducted heuristic evaluations on six interfaces. I then asked teammates to conduct their own evaluations to gauge clarity and repeatability.

Proof of Concept
Related Projcts

Related Projects

Roku's 13 Heuristics of Physical Interaction

As product types expanded from players, to soundbars, subwoofers and more, Roku also wanted to be able evaluate its products for industrial UX design. Leveraging the interface guidelines and research, I also created 13 heuristics for evaluating these physical properties.

Layperson Heuristic

Expanding from the heuristic guide I created, I also created an evaluation guide that is worded and keyed towards laypeople. This would potentially expand our amount of data, but the validity is yet to be founded.

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