Friday, September 7, 2012

Netflix, I love you really, but...Part 1

I’ll start by saying I love Netflix. It’s a great service, and been enjoying it for years. I doubt I would've watched even a fraction of the movies and TV shows if it weren't for Netflix. My problem with Netflix, and I believe I’m not the only one, is their website. Don’t get me wrong, they have a good website to navigate, but it can be much better. So I offer my opinions on how they can improve. Maybe they will see this and implement some of my suggestions. If not, I at least feel like I got it off my chest and in the open, even if no one reads it.

First off, the good, most everyone want to hear the good first. I love the categorization. They do a great job of breaking down the categories. Take action and adventure movies. Action classics, action comedies, action thrillers, adventures, Asian action, comic book and superheroes, crime action & adventure, foreign action & adventure, martial arts, military action & adventure, spy action & adventure, Westerns. Splitting them into so many sub categories, makes it easy to narrow down the search.

Next is the home page. They do a good job of offering many suggestions. Right off the bat, they have the top 10 suggestions based on what I’ve watched. As I scroll down the page, it offers categories that I would like to see. Movies or shows I might like based on what I just watched, even a section for new releases to watch.

Before I continue, I must clarify that my wife and I use Netflix for instant watching. So my suggestions are laid out for instant layout. I assume the DVD side is in a similar layout. So my suggestions may apply to that side as well.

For starters, they have two categories that bug me, recently added and new releases. Recently added I understand; movies that Netflix has received permission to finally release for instant viewing pleasure. Makes sense to me.

New releases on the other hand have me a bit confused. Are they new releases because they recently came out on DVD? Doesn’t seem to be. I have seen some movies that are several years old in the category. Also, if they recently were released on DVD and also instant then shouldn’t they now be considered a new release? In a similar respect, I have seen movies that were taken away from instant and then brought back, and some of them appear in new releases section. This also makes no sense. New episodes available for TV shows do make sense, but at the same time, they are recently added. All together, new releases category should be merged with recently added and then new releases category removed.

Back to those categories I so love. While they have the movies broken down greatly, when you get into a category of your choosing, you have two search methods, gallery view and sortable list.

The gallery view, to me, is the better of the two and what I use when looking. The gallery view shows the movie cover. Making it easier to get a better idea of what the movie is. In my opinion, being able to see what the movie or TV show is with a picture gives me quicker recognition of the movie or TV show, reducing the time spent searching. An issue with a lot of movies is remakes. By viewing the cover, it is easier to discern if I’m looking at the original or a remake. In some cases, I am not a fan of certain actors or actresses, so if I see their face/name on the cover, I skip over it. Or I could see a movie with an actor or actress that I didn’t know they made, and that can catch my eye.

The downside to the gallery view is I have no idea how they have it set up. Why some movies appear before others. It could be based on rating. But I see the star rating system all over the place. I could see a couple 4 star movies, then a two star movie, then a five star, so that isn’t the reason. The only reasonable conclusion I can come to is by most viewed appear near the first couple pages because as you get further into the pages for the category, the movies become movies that no one knew existed. Although occasionally I’ll see well known movies further down the list behind others that wouldn’t seem highly watched. But with gallery view, how they put them is how you see them. No way to sort through them in anyway shape or form. You can’t sort alphabetically, by year made, star rating, or by maturity rating.

This is where the sortable list excels. You can sort the list as you see fit. You can make the movies alphabetical, by year made, star rating, or by maturity rating. I love the ability to do so. But the downside is I cannot see the movie covers like in gallery view. Most the movies in every category I do not recognize by name and if I do recognize it, I stop to highlight it to confirm it’s the movie I thought it was. I find myself stopping at every movie to see what it is. I would say 75% of the movies I would skip in gallery view and with good reason. Finding them in the sortable list makes it tougher to want to see the movie once I mouse over to see the picture of the movie. With as many movies that Netflix has, if I can narrow my search time with gallery view, I will.

Netflix needs to merge these two options together. Get rid of the sortable list altogether. Make only the gallery view available. Along the top of each page you have drop down options to narrow your search or more convenient. Allow the gallery view to become alphabetized. Let me see the top rated movies. Here is how I think the drop down options should look/contain:

Viewer Rating
Movie Rating
TV Rating
Netflix Viewers

5 Star -> 0 Star
Most viewed
5 Star only
Least viewed
4 Star only

3 Star only

2 Star only

1 Star only

0 Star -> 5 Star





These options should be mix and match. So if I want to see 4 star ratings of movies in the 1980’s from A-M, I should get my search narrowed down. It can be a great way to help the search process. I can weed out lower rated movies or shows I might not watch or discover new movies I didn’t know existed.  With all the choices, some search items won’t be able to go together, and there are set ups that once selected makes other choices obsolete.

Obviously this has plenty in it at the moment. This is not all my ideas, as I will follow up with more of my ideas in my next post. I understand my ideas have a lot of work behind them. If Netflix does these, it would mean a complete revamping of their website. But I think it would defiantly be a lot better. I enjoy 

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