If you’ve been following my blog, then you know grad school has transformed me into a hot mess (case and point here). While I’m up at all hours of the night working, I typically have my TV on in the background — partly to hide my emotional outbursts and because I grew up thinking that having a TV on at night keeps the ghosts away. But I digress.
During my many late nights of working with the comfort of my TV on, I find myself using Hulu less and less. Although my queue is building up with new episodes of my favorite shows, including Shark Tank (whaddup Mark Cuban?!), I absolutely dread using the app. It is extremely frustrating to use and requires too much time navigating to find shows that I want to watch. As a company that prides itself as being at the forefront of entertainment and technology, Hulu should take a more empathic approach to user experience design. Although I am only 1 of 47 million users in the U.S., here are 4 reasons why Hulu’s UX is so terrible (please take note Hulu).
1. Home Screen
Hulu’s biggest design fail is their home screen and it shows how much they do not understand their users. After I login, I am automatically taken to the Lineup which features an extensive list of shows that I have no interest in. Next to the lineup list, you have Keep Watching, TV, and Movies. But the real issue comes in after that — Kids, Marvel Universe, and The Magic of Disney. Number one, I do not have children — so Kids and The Magic of Disney should go. And number two, if there is one genre of entertainment that I despise, it is superhero. The remaining options are somewhat relevant to my interests, but I still have to sift through a bunch of crap just to get to them. Hulu users deserve a more personalized experience that curates relevant content to help them navigate the complexities of the “paradox of choice.”
2. Vertical Layout
Another issue with Hulu’s UX is the vertical layout of shows. I understand that Hulu wants to be innovative in an increasingly competitive marketplace; however, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. The horizontal grid layout works. A horizontal layout similar to Netflix saves users a considerable amount of time because users can see at least 10 different options at once and make quick decisions based on cover images. With Hulu, users are presented with only one background image and only two (or three if you’re lucky) options to choose from. Hulu should focus more on the functionality of their user experience to respect their customers’ time.
Hulu’s impersonalized user experience and vertical layout make it extremely difficult to navigate. In addition, Hulu’s navigation does not optimize their competitive differentiators. According to their website, Hulu is “the only TV service that brings together live, on-demand, originals, and library content all in one place.” This is a key differentiator — take advantage of it. Being able to browse network TV and new shows on leading broadcast networks is hidden under Browse on the top-level navigation. Hulu needs to better understand how their users navigate and browse their app to create a more seamless user experience.
The new Hulu experience incorporates autoplay functionality which really screws up my Keep Watching list because sometimes it automatically starts playing a different show than what I was watching. I finally figured out how to turn it off while doing research for this blog post, but I should not have had to waste time doing so. Hulu does a poor job at selecting related shows to autoplay. I’m still trying to figure out what I initially watched to have Kitchen Nightmares autoplay. Although, today I was pleasantly surprised when reruns of Modern Family autoplayed after I watched the latest episode. Maybe this is still a work in progress, but either way, turning autoplay on and off should not be a hidden option.
How to Turn Hulu’s Autoplay Off
If you are running into the same issues, this is how you turn of Hulu’s autoplay:
- From the home page, go to the top nav bar and select the person icon
- Select “Settings”
- Turn Autoplay off
Overall, I believe that Hulu is a strong and successful company. However, their user experience is extremely frustrating and is a perfect example of what not to do in user-centered design. If there is one piece of advice for Hulu it is — focus on your users.