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Roku Remote Setup

Lead Interaction Designer


Our goal was to create an affordable voice remote with improved setup instructions. To reduce costs, we removed the pairing button found in the remote's battery compartment. This decision was influenced by competitor remotes and also prevents accidental pairing while troubleshooting.

The Problem

1. Remote Pairing Mode to Reduce Costs

We removed the pairing button on the remote. This button is used to activate the setup state, allowing the Roku TV or Player to establish a connection with the remote.


 2. Identifying the Remote

We faced the challenge of identifying the remote a user is trying to set up. With three types of Roku remotes, we needed a user-friendly method to surface the correct pairing instructions.



I conducted an audit of the existing designs, remotes, and buttons, including an overview of the screens on the device.

  • This image is displayed on the Language selection screen during guided setup if a remote is not detected within a certain time

  • It doesn't include instructions because the user hasn't selected a system language yet.

  • In a prior release, the image was updated to include voice remote pro

    • Even though voice remote pro doesn't have a battery compartment, users were successful in finding the pairing button on the back of the remote

    • the original image showed batteries being inserted into the remote. 

  • Once a user's Roku TV or player is set up, they can set up other remotes and accessories within the Settings menu. 

  • When "Remote" is highlighted, the right panel displays instructions for entering pairing mode.

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  • If remote pairing fails, the user sees instructions on how to troubleshoot their remote.


  • The audit highlighted the followings locations where the instructions would be updated:

    • Guided setup

    • Accessory setup

    • Error dialogs

    • Quick start guide that ships with the new remote

    • Customer support articles.


  • The key difference among Roku remotes is the location of the microphone pinhole. IR remotes don't have a microphone pinhole. These remotes don't require setup like RF remotes. Existing RF remotes have a microphone pinhole below the power button. The new remote has a microphone pinhole to the left of the power button.



Two potential button combinations for pairing mode were identified: Home + Back or Home + Star.

Button Combinations
  • Easy to press buttons with two hands

  • Easy to show visual on-screen - buttons are right next to each other

  • If you have a big thumb, you can press the two buttons with one hand

  • Lots of buttons look like arrows

  • Could be accidentally pressed together if the remote gets stuck in a couch

  • Easy to press with two hands

  • Cannot press with one hand

  • Buttons are not next to each other

  • Could be accidentally pressed together if the remote gets stuck in a couch

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Home & star.png

The instructions in the guided setup correspond to the remote that comes with the TV or player.

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If a user purchases a Roku remote as an accessory, we don't know which remote they have. We have to rely on the user's information about the remote, specifically the location of the microphone pinhole.

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We conducted a usability study to test two pairing combinations and instructional screens based on the initial audit.


  • Can users correctly identify their remote and enter pairing mode?

  • Is the microphone pinhole sufficient for differentiating the remotes?

  • Is one button combination easier to press than the other?

  • Are the button combinations as easy or easier than the existing pairing button experience?

  • Are any button combinations more problematic?

  • Do users succeed in entering pairing mode on their first attempt?


The study findings indicated pressing the home and back buttons together for 3 seconds had the highest success rate to put the remote into pairing mode.


Take a look at the accessory setup designs that shipped in 2022.

Want to learn more?

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