Thursday, December 23, 2010

I don't love you anymore, Netflix

I loved Netflix since it was first available on the PS3. I could watch movie after movie after documentary after movie - no wonder I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. 

Sadly, things have changed. Apparently Netflix tests user interfaces (UI) all the time, so at any given moment a subscriber might be faced with a new UI. Yesterday we were switched from this regular UI:
Netflix's old UI. See the nice menus on the left? You didn't
have to use them, but they sure are handy for people like me
who like to browse through titles.

to using this test UI:
The test Netflix UI we've been given. There are no menus
and navigation is very difficult. It's harder to use than
Rogers On Demand.

In the old UI, I navigated through a menu system to find the genre of movie I wanted to see and then I'd browse through those titles. The titles in a genre were arranged in rows of five and I'd scroll up and down through the rows. If the cursor paused on one of the titles, the description would show up below. This UI was easy to use and fairly intuitive.

There's no menu system in the test UI. I scroll down through the rows to find the genre I want and then I scroll sideways to find a title. Pausing on a title brings up the description in the right -hand third of the screen. Some of the genres have 250 titles in them and I just don't have the patience to scroll through them. Plus at least one other genre is shown above or below the one that I'm looking at, cluttering up the screen.

I know that some people would like this new UI but I don't: I find it harder to navigate through the titles and I have a very hard time browsing to find something to watch. The end result is that I'm not watching anything on netflix and that leaves me feeling unhappy. I like watching movies and I used to like watching them on netflix.

Of course I called them today to tell them that I was very unhappy about this because I'm vocal about things I don't like. I told them that if the menu system doesn't change back we'll cancel the service. I can't justify paying every month for a service that is almost impossible for me to use. Since this is a test they should be able to switch the UI back to the old one or one of the two others being tested.

I love the idea of netflix and the fact that I can watch so much stuff. But if I can't find stuff to watch because they're messing with the UI, it's not the great product I thought it was. If you're ok with being a guinea pig for netflix, you don't care about a product's ease-of-use, and you like watching movies streamed through your PS3, netflix on the PS3 might be the product for you. 

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