Netflix UX Violations

Posted on March 31, 2014

Netflix is a wildly successful content provider. Good thing too, because if it actually relied on the usability of its mobile application, it would have sunk a long time ago.

As a mobile developer, I realize my shortcomings as a UI designer. My “designs” are functional – but that’s about the extent of it. However, I do work with some pretty fantastic designers and there are some fundamental ‘donts’ that I’ve absorbed by osmosis.

Application Responsiveness

I’ve seen more responsive roadkill. They could have done worse only by failing to stream video well (an arguable point in itself). I should not be able to get coffee between the time an application starts up and the time it is usable. Another benchmark – nothing should start more slowly than Microsoft Word.

Multiple Account Management

I have a few devices; tablets, Roku, etc. I also have a dual account set up – one for my wife and one for me. Why does the application insist on asking me who’s watching everytime it starts? There should at least be an option to “not ask me this question again” – especially on a tablet.

Also, what’s the point in having the ‘kids’ section if there’s no way to set it as the default?

Auto-Advance Opt-Out Needed

It’s a bit strange, I know, but I like to listen to the credits. A movie doesn’t feel complete if the songs are cut off halfway through. Most people don’t feel that way though, I understand. However, after thousands of times cancelling the auto-advance feature, I would expect that the application could at least determine that I actually like to watch the credits. At least it could provide a “don’t do this anymore” option.

Where’s My List?

Netflix lets you keep a list of shows to watch. But if you’re in the mobile app or on a Roku, this shows up at the very bottom of the lists. Technically, it’s at the top, but since the flow is broken by either a big banner (tablet) or a set of options (Roku) it is far from intuitive that there is something above that.

Buttons too small

Many of the control buttons on the tablet are too small for the average finger. This is actually a pretty ridiculous mistake on Android tablets, since most measurements are best done with real dimensions.

Controls Slide and Fade

One simple rule – wherever something comes from is where it should go. Not so for the controls on the playback screen. They Slide in, but then fade out; it’s a small detail, but really puts the cap on how little attention was paid to the implementation of the interface.