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The Best Kodi Skins to Make Your HTPC User-Friendly

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Kodi_skin

Last updated March 15th, 2016

When choosing the best Kodi skin for your media center, what’s the most important thing you should do if you want to make sure your HTPC is easy to use?

Here’s the deal:

Are your spouse and children willing to learn to use your HTPC? Have you really made enough efforts to reduce the complexity for the first time users?

In many households, Kodi is not perceived user-friendly enough for other family members.

After reading this post, you’ll have a better idea of how to minimize user effort while providing quick and smooth access to your media content.

What’s in this Post

Overview: Top 6 Skins in 2016
Theory: What is the Key to Better User Experience
Do It Yourself: How to Customize Your Skin to Make It Super Easy to Use
Summary: Key Takeaways

 

Top 6 Skins in 2016

Kodi has used the Confluence skin as its default for more than seven years, but as of Kodi 17, there will be a new default skin called Estuary.

If you want to get ahead of the game and try Estuary now, then you will need to install early access development build.

In addition to the default skin, there are many great looking Kodi skins.

It is probably impossible to identify the best Kodi skin since it depends on your specific preferences, demands, and wishes.

I conducted extensive tests to identify which skins will make your media center interface look more beautiful and easier to use than ever before.

Here are the finalists:

Titan: Simple Live TV Experience

titan

Are you frequently using live TV and PVR functionalities with Kodi?

Then, you might want to consider using Titan skin, which was originally designed for the MediaPortal software that is known for its live TV capabilities.

Titan includes an unbelievable amount of customization options.

If you are just getting started with Kodi, then Titan may look too complicated at first.

But, with proper instructions, you can customize your user interface exactly how you want.

You can also make your Kodi homescreen look like Netflix with Titan.

Aeon MQ6: Customize Everything

aeon-mq6

Aeon MQ6 is a very stylish skin and it is another great option for those who enjoys tweaking and customizing their user interface.

You can add new menus and submenus, which is a great way to integrate your favorite add-ons to the main menu. It also includes PVR support.

If you prefer to customize everything, then Aeon MQ6 might be the right choice for you.

fTV: Simple and Fast User Interface

ftv

Are you using Amazon Fire TV to run Kodi?

If yes, I would recommend trying out the fTV skin, which allows you to have a unified user interface between Kodi and Amazon Fire TV’s user interface.

For those looking for a skin for simple and fast user interface, then you might prefer to use fTV.

Amber: The Best Adapted Skin for Use with Plex

amber-skin

I recommend this skin particularly if you use Plex Media Server to manage and stream all my TV recordings.

If you are using Plex as a backend media server software, then you will need to install Plexbmc and Plexbmc helper add-ons with Amber skin.

Amber is quite lightweight to use, so it will work fine with Raspberry Pi as well.

Arctic Zephyr: Seamless Experience with Emby

arctic

Integrating Kodi, repositories, Emby, Live TV, Netflix, Hulu into one user-friendly package is a dream for many.

If you are using Emby as a backend media server software, then Arctic Zephyr is a good choice for seamlessly integrating Emby with your media server.

Conq: Lightweight Skin

conq

Conq is a clean and minimal skin, which can also be found from Kodi’s official repository.

If you are using Raspberry Pi or slow Android media player, Conq is a great choice because it requires very little processor power to use.

What is the Key to Better User Experience

I like the way Steve Krug describes the key to a great user experience: “Don’t make me think.”

For example, if your mother-in-law comes to visit your home and grabs your media center remote control, how quickly and smoothly will she have access to content.

Why is this so important?

When you make the Kodi main menu and other sub-menus self-evident, it just makes the whole media experience seem better and more enjoyable.

As Kim Flaherty describes on Nielsen Norman Group article, you should address the following principles in smart-TV usability:

main-menu-customization

  1. Support search and make this feature obvious and easily accessible.
  2. Minimize button clicks on the remote to get quickly to the desired outcome.
  3. Don’t hide content behind complex navigation and provide the right information in the right way at the right time.
  4. Arrange media with appropriate visual hierarchy and navigational cues to prevent the user from feeling lost in the interface.

Now, I would like that you open your Kodi main menu and ask yourself these two questions:

Are you seeing things on your main menu that make you think?

How many clicks are required to watch the next episode of your favorite TV show?

Based on your answers, continue reading if you think there is still room for improvement in your user experience.

How to Customize Your Skin to Make It Super Easy to Use

Now it’s time to actually start modifying your homescreen layout to minimize button clicks to get quickly to the media content.

To make the process easy for you, I made step-by-step Kodi skin customization instructions that outline the exact steps you need to take to customize your skin to make a super user-friendly Netflix-style interface.

Download the exclusive skin customization instructions now:

Download_Skin_Guide

Free Download: To make your next step easy, I would suggest that you download step-by-step Kodi skin customization instructions.
 

Key Takeaways

So, which one is the best? It is entirely up to you because, as always, it really depends on what kind of HTPC you use and how you consume your media files.

After extensive real life usage tests, I can conclude that currently my favorite Kodi skin to create a great user experience is Titan skin.

If you use Raspberry Pi, then skins like Conq and fTV are good choices since they are lightweight enough to run smoothly on RPi.

If you have a custom HTPC and like to customize every detail of your user interface, then Titan or Aeon MQ6 are great choices.

Now that your user interface is simple to use, do you have the right remote control?

The first step is to make the Kodi interface so easy that users don’t need to think how to use it.

Second step is to make your remote control simple enough for non-technical users in the house. I have tried many different remote controls but they just never seem to work (just like a set-top box).

Now, I have found a remote control that my family enjoys using: Continue reading to learn how this remote control made my HTPC experience much more user friendly.


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