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Netflix's New Web Interface Gets Thumbs Down From Users 267

Posted by timothy
from the where's-action-hero-donald-a-norman? dept.
Verdatum writes "Entertainment Weekly is one of many sites reporting the strong negative reaction from users of the new Netflix web interface. The new interface presents larger title images at the cost of visible ratings and the 'Sortable List' view. To see a suggested rating or view details, one must now first hover over each individual title. Netflix announced the new interface on Wednesday, in an official blog post. So far, the post has received thousands of negative comments, but only a few dozen comments by users believing the change is an improvement."
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Netflix's New Web Interface Gets Thumbs Down From Users

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  • No surprise there (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 11, 2011 @06:45PM (#36413928)

    The old interface was fine, the new one is slow and is not sortable.

    • Re:No surprise there (Score:5, Informative)

      by 24-bit Voxel (672674) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @06:54PM (#36414004) Journal

      Agreed. Now I have to wait for the sideways scroll and it's all movies I've already seen. There are less icons on the screen so therefore fewer results and they scroll slower so it's doubly bad.

      • by immaterial (1520413) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:32PM (#36414246)
        The scroll really is atrocious. You used to click the "next" arrow and it would quickly scroll in and entire new row. Now you have to hover the mouse over one end or the other (no visual feedback on that, even) and it will begin to slowly scroll them by, at a rate of less than one movie per second. To scroll through thirty movies used to take maybe five seconds, and now it takes upwards of thirty. For those who say, "Users always hate change!", I am a person who welcomes a new and improved interface, but this is out-and-out, unequivocally less useful and more time consuming to use than the old interface. How anyone thought it was a good idea is beyond me.
        • by reboot246 (623534)
          Huh? I just looked at it and it looked fine to me. The scroll when I browsed was so fast that you could call it nearly instantaneous. If you blinked, you'd miss it.

          I can live with the interface just like it is.
          • I suspect you looking at the "Browser DVDs" section. That still has the old interface, which as I said quickly scrolls through an entire row at a time - we all could live with it just how it is. The new interface, which everyone is complaining about, is in the "Watch Instantly" section (now the default/main section), and it scrolls at the glacial pace of 1 movie per second (not incrementally row-by-row or even movie-by-movie, but continuously inching its way across the screen).
    • by Idbar (1034346)
      Yet they decided top mess with the web page instead of releasing a freaking application for android devices. If they have enough free time for web redesign, why not write the android app and leave the stuff that it's working fine alone?
      • by roche (135922)

        I am not sure what you are talking about because they have a official app for Android.

        https://market.android.com/details?id=com.netflix.mediaclient&hl=en

        • by jhoegl (638955)
          To be fair, it does look like other application interfaces. I was reminded of my XBox interface when I saw the "changes".
    • Thank goodness there's the Pirate Bay then... ;-)

    • by Endo13 (1000782)

      I also miss the "recently watched items" that used to be at the top of the Watch Instantly page. Was very useful for picking up where you left off, especially in TV shows.

      I'm disappointed.

    • I happen to be on it right now (in another window). The only difference seems to be in the "Watch Instantly" tab. The "Browse DVDs" tab is the same, as is the "Your Queue" and "Suggestions for You" tabs. In either the "Browse DVDs" and "Suggestions..." tabs, you can see the movies you can watch instantly. In the 'new' "Watch Instantly" tab, you can mouse over an image to get the rating, title, and summary. Frankly, their selection is far more important that their menu tweaks, which seem very minor.
  • Wasn't that bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I used it today. It wasn't that bad, but I didn't really see the need to change from the previous interface.

    • I used it today. It wasn't that bad, but I didn't really see the need to change from the previous interface.

      Yeah. Haven't decided if I like it better or not (I know enough to play with something for a while until I've figured out what's good and bad about it) but I wasn't unhappy with the old one. The new side-scrolling feature looks nice, but frankly isn't all that usable. I wonder if they actually got much end-user input before they rolled it out.

    • I just took a look, too.

      Watch instantly has the most changes:
      - images are bigger so you don't see as many of them
      - there's no text titles, so you can't browse through as quickly since you have to look for titles on the images.
      - the ratings only show if you mouse over, and the rating+description takes a noticeable time to load, making it harder to browse

      Most of those changes aren't implemented on the browse DVD pages-- I still have the text titles, the images are smaller, and the ratings are there. What loo

  • Netflix API (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @06:55PM (#36414014) Journal

    What Netflix really ought to do is publish an API and let people make their own interfaces.

    • Re:Netflix API (Score:5, Insightful)

      by h4rr4r (612664) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:00PM (#36414056)

      This a million times this.
      And please give a FREE and open method of playing it. I want to make my own view and have it work on any device.

      • by tepples (727027)

        And please give a FREE and open method of playing it.

        Good luck getting Columbia, Disney, Fox, Paramount, Universal, and Warner to agree to that.

    • Re:Netflix API (Score:5, Informative)

      by kwerle (39371) <kurt@CircleW.org> on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:35PM (#36414262) Homepage Journal

      You are being facetious, right [netflix.com]?

      I'm part way through writing my own interface that will let multiple users view their queues and juggle between them (so that people in the same household can manage each other's queues and see/set both people's ratings at the same time).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        Third Party Applications

        [...]
        May not play Netflix movies inline, but may launch our stand-alone player when a member hits the Play button. Not available for Mobile applications.

        So you can make interfaces but they ultimately suck. Also I think most would agree that being able to play on Linux is a priority. I don't think it's paranoid to assume that Microsoft gave away a board seat partly to ensure that would not happen.

        • by kwerle (39371)

          So you can make interfaces but they ultimately suck. Also I think most would agree that being able to play on Linux is a priority. I don't think it's paranoid to assume that Microsoft gave away a board seat partly to ensure that would not happen.

          ... I guess interfaces you make may suck, but I intend for mine to be exactly what I want. And it seems likely I'll do that. I'm a programmer.

          As for shunning linux, netflix runs on any number of linux devices.
          http://www.netflix.com/NetflixReadyDevices?cid=Game+Consoles [netflix.com]

          What do you think those tvs, blu rays, etc run?

    • by moniker (9961)

      I use instantwatcher [instantwatcher.com], which does use the API, so I never even noticed that there was a new interface.

  • by PotatoHead (12771) <doug@opengee k . o rg> on Saturday June 11, 2011 @06:59PM (#36414048) Homepage Journal

    and have some control over exposure.

    Not sortable means you have to see more titles before you select one. For the person looking for a title that's bad. For the people wanting their title to be seen, and to know if there was interest in it, the new UI makes perfect sense.

    How much do you want to bet they just log the mouse overs, seeing what people wanted to get detail on?

    • by tunapez (1161697)

      It's also useful when you want to obscure the title selection's entirety.
      1: there's always someone naive enough to think a dog flick that shows up on pages twice(3x's, 4x's) may be that good
      2) the user base isn't acutely aware of just how limited the library really is.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)

      So basically you're saying that Netflix's actual customers are movie producers? Weird, that gives a vague hint of déjà vu.

      • by Bieeanda (961632) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @09:04PM (#36414840)
        Netflix doesn't just buy a thousand copies of a movie, rip it to a streamable format, and send it to the end-user. They license titles for streaming, and that means keeping a positive relationship with their suppliers, the movie companies. They've consistently said 'no' to a 'buy this movie' button, but that doesn't mean that they really can or should resist every other offer that their suppliers make.

        This article [concurrentmedia.com] indicates that Netflix is happy to play with media companies in order to smooth ruffled feathers. A primary UI redesign that basically turns it into a marquee of movie posters, that probably feeds interaction metrics back, and definitely showcases individual titles more effectively, seems a logical decision from that standpoint. Whether or not the users are going to stand for a radical redesign like that is another question entirely.

        • It should also be mentioned that there are a lot of terrible movies that producers know are bad. If they can obscure the user ratings by forcing a mouse-over first, they may get people who click without waiting for the user ratings to show up. User experience doesn't matter, it just matters that they're force-fed junk while their pockets get drained.
    • by Xtifr (1323)

      Not sortable means you have to see more titles before you select one. For the person looking for a title that's bad.

      The person looking for a specific title will simply use search, which still works fine. The only purpose of the scrolling interface is to browse what's available. Not sortable only means that you have no easy way to skip the stuff you already looked at yesterday. On top of that, the slower scrolling means that people are likely to get tired of browsing after seeing a lot fewer movies, since it takes so much longer to see each one.

      How much do you want to bet they just log the mouse overs, seeing what people wanted to get detail on?

      The old interface used mouseovers to provide details. The only thing you g

  • by woboyle (1044168) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @06:59PM (#36414050)
    A lot of web sites that have tuned their main (and other) pages over time to be usable and accessible, often seem to think that a major change is "improvement". Sometimes it is, but often it isn't simply because they don't spend enough energy on validating functionality and usability with their users. Having a "try new interface" or "use old interface" options would help so that people can try out the new look, yet go back to the old one if the new interface doesn't work for them. Then, requesting active feedback from users will help them to make sure that all is working as they wish before deprecating the old interfaces. Like customers, the users are always right. New eye candy may not be what you need to be successful.
  • by mfearby (1653) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:07PM (#36414102) Homepage

    This disease of making something a designer's wet dream at the expense of actual usability is becoming more and more widespread. It needs to stop! The same can be said of Unity or GNOME 3. Sure, taken as a stand-alone GUI art installation, it might turn some heads and get a few people excited, but if you have to use the darn thing for more than an hour, its inadequacy outshines the shiny!

    The ultimate arbiter of whether a design or a change is a good thing should be whether or not you've increased the number of clicks/hovers/steps that a user has to go through to achieve the same task. If so, then bin it and start again. Sorry, but fancy interfaces won't win anybody over if you're pissed off simply having to use it. Just like a trophy bride, she might look nice, but eventually the nagging turns you right off.

    • Pff, gimme a break. Clicks/hovers? You're talking about a plumber. Designers are artists, their next job depends on what they did last. So what if the great unwashed panned it? Their opinions don't matter. When's the last time someone, anyone, admired an efficient plumbing installation? Designers are not in the same class, they are creatives not workers.
      • Sadly, you are right. Unfortunately, as an end user, I'd prefer a highly effecient plumbing system that doesn't back up and just plain *works*, than a piece of artwork that backs up every day or two, is a pain to clean, and just plain annoys the heck out of everyone who has to use it.

    • by vitaflo (20507) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @09:27PM (#36414938) Homepage

      Having been a web designer for the better part of 15 years I think you should be careful when you lump designers into taking the blame for this. In doing so you give them way to much power.

      Any real designer would consider the new Netflix site an abomination. It sucks for the reasons everyone knows it sucks. But if you've ever actually done design work you would know that these sorts of sites rarely are the brain child of a typical web designer. These horrible UI decisions are usually the result of many layers of bureaucracy inside a company, with middle managers inevitably deciding on their own pet ideas and influencing design ("Ohh bigger images, bigger!", "Hover scrolls! Those would be cool and fun!").

      In fact, the hardest part of being a designer isn't design. That's not particularly difficult. No, it's the fact that design to most people is subjective and thus everyone feels the need to want to add their own bits and pieces into a design, even when they make no sense and are horrible ideas. This is why so much of design education is learning about critique, because inevitably, someone will want to add amazingly bad ideas to an otherwise decent UI and you need to learn how to argue for (or against) your ideas.

      What this design says to me is that Netflix may have just gotten too big for its own good. Marketers and managers seem to be having way too much say on the user experience of the website. This happens to all big companies eventually, it's just unfortunate that Netflix has finally crossed that line.

    • The ultimate arbiter of whether a design or a change is a good thing should be whether or not you've increased the number of clicks/hovers/steps that a user has to go through to achieve the same task.

      Sorry, that rule sucks. You can *always* decrease a required click/hover/step in an interface by making the result constantly visible. Canonical example: replace a buried menu item with a toolbar button. Your suggestion trades click steps for screen real estate. Taken to its logical conclusion you get a

  • chrome extension fix (Score:3, Informative)

    by aztrailerpunk (1971174) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:13PM (#36414138)
    Someone has already posted an extension for chrome that fixes the layout. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ngacmlmclfopgbnmefcffgbcjiafbfpo?hl=en-US# [google.com]
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:24PM (#36414200) Homepage

    Netflix claimed they tested it, but who was in the test group? I never heard they were working on a new interface. There was no "check out the new interface demo". Nothing. It is freaking hideous. Clumsy, bulky, slow. I think they're lying about the testing. If they would have really tested that monstrosity it would have failed miserably.

    I thought about down-grading my subscription for a month in protest.

  • Its unusuable. Thank god my secondary account still has the old school interface.

    Netflix had been doing great, especially with the grouping multiple seasons of DVDs finally, and then they pull a stupid stunt like this. What were they thinking.

    I wish to god whoever decided that making websites should only display well on iPads comes to a swift and painful death.

    W

  • link (Score:3, Informative)

    by the_Bionic_lemming (446569) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:28PM (#36414226)

    This link works ok for now if you want the most of the older interface (hover is broke)

    http://www.netflix.com/WiHome?fcld=true [netflix.com]

  • The scrolling is too slow and there is no button to quickly flip the panels as before. The play button on the picture seems handy but overall, conevient browsing of movie titles are more important, so this redesign is an F. I might have to vote with my money by scaling down my subscription (It has been difficult to find good titles already).
    • Hate to reply to my self but I just found out they only changed the "Watch Instantly" section. This leads me to think they might be intentionally discouraging people to watch too many movies. Maybe their servers are having trouble keeping up with the demand.
  • Not good in Canada (Score:4, Informative)

    by lucm (889690) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:38PM (#36414282)

    The problem with Netflix in Canada is that you can get only the online stuff (not the mailers), but both kinds are displayed, so when you see an interesting movie, you click then it says: sorry it is not available online. It's like Amazon a while ago when it was not possible to filter out the stuff that is out of stock. Very annoying.

  • by Xtifr (1323) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:38PM (#36414284) Homepage

    Just tried it out; the scrolling is awkward and annoying, but aside from that I don't see much to complain about. At least, not compared to the disimprovements they just added to the game console player (at least on the PS3), which is just horrible!

    On the console, they used to have a hierarchy--you could go to a genre (e.g. Horror), then drill down to see various subcategories (New Releases, Zombie movies, B-Horror, Slashers and Serial Killers, etc.). That's all been replaced with a flat grid, where each row represents a single genre. This is particularly annoying with the psuedo-genres, "Independent" and "Foreign", each of which was subdivided into actual genres (Independent Comedy, Foreign Science Fiction), which were sometimes subdivided further (Independent Romantic Comedies, Japanese Science Fiction). Now all the indie and foreign films are in one big shapeless, useless pile. And it's a much smaller pile, which brings me to complaint two:

    With the old, tree-structured interface, each sub-category (or sub-sub-category) could have up to a couple of hundred films to browse. There was a fair amount of overlap between sub-categories, but even so, this meant you could have well over a thousand films available in each category. Now, each main category seems to be limited to 75 movies max!

    One slightly more minor disimprovement: they changed the layout so that slightly less room is available for descriptions. Most of their descriptions are still short enough to fit anyway, and some were too long even with the older layout, but there's definitely more that don't fit now.

    Compared to all that, what they did to the web page is nuttin'!

  • by theurge14 (820596) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:47PM (#36414330)

    Please, the video playback performance on it seems even worse than Flash if that's even possible.

    (3 year old desktop system)

    • could be just your machine. On a gaming machine with big monitors, it plays HD content much better than flash. If their servers can meet the demand, they really should get rid of all the DVDs.
  • by webdog314 (960286) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:51PM (#36414364)

    It seems that web interfaces are simply doing away with the "click". It's as if designers were told "fewer clicks is better", and so they naturally thought that NO clicks must be best. I freaking HATE rollover interfaces. If I want to see the details, then I can avail myself to lightly depress my mouse button a millimeter or two. Otherwise, keep it the hell out of my face.

    This new Netflix interface sucks.

    • by Twinbee (767046)

      Now that you mention it, Visual Studio uses rollovers to show say the form properties or find/replace window, and every time it gets in my face (the main scroll bar is perilously close to it). Yes, I hate it too. Well said.

  • by flimflammer (956759) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @07:56PM (#36414396)

    This reminds me of the Digg 4 redesign. Why change something that isn't broken in the first place and turn it into complete crap in the process? I sincerely hope Netflix actually accepts the negative criticism and tries to fix it instead of thinking it knows better than its users.

  • Seems to be effecting everything lately.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Developers heard that tablets were popular, and decided that every interface in the world should be designed solely with tablets in mind. Just wait for the next version of Office to do away with the keyboard, and force users to input everything with mouse gestures and Swype.

  • As any frequent and long-time user of YouTube knows, it is notorious for dumping stupid interface changes on the user community. Due to the massive negative outpouring that some of these generate, it's hard for me to believe that they perform any usability trials before release. There are still some remnants of this junk - most notably the gray bar at the bottom of the screen. This is probably the one least-used, most annoying "feature" that refuses to die. I hope Netflix isn't using the same methodology, b

  • by Niris (1443675)
    Didn't they do this with the playstation recently?
  • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @09:40PM (#36414974)

    I didn't notice a change at first, since anyone with a PS3 who has seen the UI it's been using for the last few months should immediately recognize the new design. It actually works pretty well on the PS3, since you can use your controller to navigate it decently quickly. With a mouse, however, the rollovers are comically slow, and the lack of visible ratings (Netflix's strong suit) is a massive oversight. But, the fact that this UI has been in use on the PS3 for months may be why Netflix says they've been testing the UI for an extended period of time without major complaint.

    The other reason I didn't notice any change was because I keep my bookmark on my computer set to the Instant Queue. Really, whenever I'm on my computer, I only ever see my queues, the detail pages for movies I'm watching, and the search results page after I look up something, none of which were redesigned. I'm not even sure why people use the rest of the site, though I'd guess I'm not the typical user.

    Had it not been for this posting here, I'd likely have not seen the changes for months, and when I did see them, I likely wouldn't have even realized a change had occurred, since the UI would look familiar to me already.

  • Holy crap, this is an actual desired and planned for change to the UI? I was thinking it was a bug that prevented the entire page from being loaded. What Netflix has done to the web UI is so bad that I now have to go to my Wii or Roku to manage my account. The changes to the web version result in a slower and barely tolerable experience. I now have to find an nonexistent scroll bar to look through box art (no titles) and there's no indication how long the list is. I can't sort anything. This isn't qui
  • Wow, I just logged in and ... sure enough, it's awful!

    Good thing I get all my recommendations from Berlineale [berlinale.de] instead of Netflix.

  • by whereiswaldo (459052) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @01:10AM (#36415752) Journal

    I hope they spend some time improving their gaming console interface.
    Specifically:

    - I don't even want to see genres I'm not interested in.
    - I want a "not interested" option, like on the web interface
    - I should be able to see a full list of things I've watched, so I can go back and continue to watch a series I started watching awhile ago.
    - Should be able to apply a "not interested" rating to an entire series, across all seasons.

    Also, why bother showing search results for titles I am not able to watch? Hoping a click on an unwatchable title at least triggers a hit so they can see demand for it.

  • by supercrisp (936036) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:54AM (#36416654)
    I'm an academic, and two of the websites I use a lot just did more or less the same thing. First, our university library decided they needed a new web presence. So the catalog system got a new page with search box. 98% of the page is irrelevant, and there's this little search box in the top left. Fine, at least it's there. Then your results come up on a page with 5 tabs. Only one tab actually does anything. The links are dead on all the rest of them. So, pick the right tab, click the link that's on it, then click one more link, again picking the right one out of a couple of dead ones, and you get..... The same old page you would get on the old system, except as the first result of your search. A similar thing happened to an online journal I frequent. It became prettier, or at least it came to conform to the present style. But finding old articles is more difficult. And all articles are now shoe-horned into 1/3 of the pages. The other 2/3s are reserved for distracting sidebars with links and pictures. They're NOT ads, but they fill exactly the same position in the layout as ads; I guess they're like self-promo ads. ANYWAY: what's driving all this? It's not like the sites being replaced are those early 90s things with web-ring GIFs at the bottom of the page. They were fairly clean, readable, USEFUL sites to navigate. Now they are not. Why the heck is this happening?
  • See also: s/Netflix/Slashdot/g

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