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The A/V receiver in my living room has a "click cycle" functionality. There's a button labeled "Mode." It changes the mode every time you press it. If you accidentally miss the desired option, you have to click it like 10 times to cycle it back to what you want. I think that's bad UX.

I thought of a few ways to fix this, but they all have disadvantages:

  • Split "Mode" into 2 buttons: ◀ MODE and MODE ▶
    Now there're 2 buttons for Mode. All other multiple choice toggle buttons would have to have back buttons too! Takes up too much space!

  • A single ◀ BACK button for the whole device
    It won't be very clear to people that this button works as the back button for all actions. Additionally, there are many buttons on the console. Users will have to move their hand(s) to the back button, which may be quite far away from what they were previously interacting with.

  • A graphical drop-down menu on the TV screen
    The A/V receiver is usually put on a shelf under the TV. The user will have to look up at a steep angle to see the choices, hurting their neck. It also requires 2 buttons: PREVIOUS and NEXT

What's the most elegant implementation of a multiple choice toggler with as little buttons/UI as possible?

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Nice question.

What's the most elegant implementation of a multiple choice toggler with as little buttons/UI as possible?

As always: it depends.

Probably the most friendly option would to show the options on the TV screen (not sure why people would put the TV in a place that would “hurt their neck, looking at an angle”). The genetic UI on most remotes is to cycle through the menu (with up-down buttons). (I personally prefer the original iPod click wheel).

A [mode] button that cycles through the options may actually be quite practical if the user needs to “see” the option. E.g. if each option has different color and lights settings, the user may want to see their movie in the “soft ambient” mode on the TV screen before deciding whether it is the best color setting.

Having a [prev mode] and [next mode] may be better for navigating the modes. But whether it is better depends on

  • The number of options: with 10 options, being able to in 2 directions potentially saves lots of clicks. If there are only 3 options, not so much.

  • How often the users switches modes: 2 buttons takes up more space of the finite real estate on a remote. So for a setting that the user only does once, when the TV is installed, the space on the remote may be put to better use for other functions.

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