Netflix users fly into a blind rage at new interface; company stands by the change

Anybody else log in to Netflix this week and notice something was amiss? The site unveiled a new interface with a focus on instant streaming, an update which did away with sortable lists and instead showcases larger title images and a new click-less way of viewing movie options. If you’re like me, the biggest change is that your personalized ratings are no longer immediately viewable. (You want me to hover my mouse over this icon for 1.5 seconds before I can see how much I’ll like this movie? Unacceptable.)

If you’re not crazy about the new interface, you’re not alone. When the change occurred on Wednesday, Netflix’s director of product management Michael Spiegelman posted a short explanation on the site’s blog. As of today, over 1,950 Netflixers, mostly angry ones, have responded online. While some say they appreciate the change, many others have called out the update as “God-awfully hideous,” “bulky and awkward,” “totally horrible,” and “jarring,” among other choice adjectives. One user, Eric, commented, “I like the look and feel but the mouse delay to add to your queue is extremely unintuitive.” ┬áSome users have even threatened to cancel their subscription if the old interface is not brought back.

Steve Swasey, vice president of corporate communicates at Netflix, says he’s well familiar with the user backlash. “Most of [the comments] have the same theme, which is ‘what was wrong with before?’ What we’re saying is we’ve tested this extensively, we know the vast, vast majority of people like this. It’s new, it’s easier, it’s cleaner.” When questioned about whether Netflix is planning on keeping the new interface despite the negative response, Swasey said, “Absolutely. We made it and tested it and researched it and tried it out and everywhere we tried it, it had a better reception. Otherwise we wouldn’t have made the change.”

As a frequent user, I understand the site’s attempt to emphasize its movie and television streaming option, but I have to side with my fellow users who object. While I like the floating parade of titles, I really wish they hadn’t downgraded the instantly visible rating system. Why fix something that wasn’t broken? Having said that, anyone who’s suffered through Facebook’s endless updates knows that sometimes all it takes to get used to a new interface is time, Maybe Swasey is right about this being an “improvement” and we all just need some time.

So what say you, PopWatchers? Had you noticed the change? What do you love/hate about it? Is it something you can grow to embrace or is your mouse hovering over the “cancel subscription” button as we speak? (You’re gonna need to hold it there for at least 1.5 seconds.)

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Comments (263 total) Add your comment
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  • KC

    Now if they would only add even more streamable content, I wouldn’t be bothered by the interface.

    • Ashley

      I’m couldn’t agree more KC.

      • steve

        agree

      • VaginaLately

        What I want to know is where’s the PORN?!?!

      • Tom

        I would like it if Netflix stopped using silverlight crap.. and just used straight up adobe flash plugin.. I’m sick of this DRM crap. I’m not going to use it until they make that upgrade.

      • Rob

        The new interface is very bad, but as long as the interface of the Roku menus stays the same, then I do not care.

    • Anne

      THIS.

      • gazmo

        bite THIS

      • AcaseofGeo

        Man you guys whine whine whine. No matter what you get in life you whine. Its not bad enough that all you streamers have put hard-working store employees out of jobs, but now you’re actually WHINING that YOU CAN’T SEE your MOVIE RATING??? Here’s a N E W S F L A S H: I don’t NEED to see what my rating is; I KNOW if I like a movie or not. Whiners.

    • Amber9802

      Took the words right out of my mouth, the look is fine..just more instant movies please!!!

      • Optimus

        Problem is look at what they offer as streaming; White Chicks? Scary Movie 2? Using the Sortable Lists feature enabled us to sort by year, see actual NEW movies and quickly find what’s truly new. Netflix keeps shoving old crappy movies into my so called suggestions, meanwhile they’re offering Toy Story 3 free streaming but you wouldn’t know that unless you searched the film. Finding stuff on Netflix is a chore, more and more they are shoving the crap no one wants at you and making it hard to find the good stuff.

    • Astronomy Domine

      I actually switched to Blockbuster online a couple months back after finally giving up on Netflix ever having anything worth watching that was available to stream.
      I love it. Doubt I’ll ever go back to Netflix. I don’t own any of the devices that Blockbuster streams to, so I can’t speak to their streaming service. But I get DVDs a month before Netflix has them available, and that is a HUGE bonus in my book.

      • Sarah

        We loved the Blockbuster option because you can swap out movies at the store or in the mail but we bought the Roku streaming device and had to switch to Netflix. It has been a disappointment because Netflix hardly has any good movies or TV shows to stream! I miss BB.

      • Jed Lowrie

        Anyone singing the praises of Blockbuster is either a tasteless idiot or a lying schill.

      • Astronomy Domine

        I assure you, Mr. Lowrie, that I am neither of those things.
        I thank you for your well-thought-out comments, however. They added so much to this conversation.

      • Who names their kid ‘Jed’?

        Jed makes a really significant point. I mean, sure Blockbuster gets new titles 4 weeks before everyone else. And sure, you have multiple options for returning videos and getting new rentals faster than Netflix (same day in-store). And, well, yes Blockbuster has a comparable, if not improved, selection of streaming content and their online recommendations/rating process and interface is clean, but is that what you’re really looking for in an entertainment provider? Jed’s right on the money. I don’t know of a reasonable consumer who wants greater selection, service time, options and a more user-friendly online process. That’s just “tasteless”.

        I jest, of course – mostly at Jed’s line of thinking, but also in the use of the word “tasteless”. I would encourage you, Jed, to become more familiar with the word as it does not apply here…at all. The concept of taste falls into the subjective realm of opinion – art, music, theater, food, clothing, etc. If you don’t like a form of art that I consider to be high quality, I might accuse you of being tasteless. This issue is objective – evaluating which company offers a better service for the money. Clearly, Blockbuster does. You calling someone “tasteless” for choosing Blockbuster over Netflix is the same as calling someone tasteless for getting gas at Exxon instead of Shell, even though Exxon has shorter lines, cheaper prices and actual gas.

        But, to the point, Jed’s entirely wrong. Having used both, Blockbuster is so much better it’s ridiculous that anyone chooses Netflix at all.

      • Carrie

        I could never entertain switching to Blockbuster after the abysmal service we had with them a few years ago. They have a 1000 movie limit on their queue (Netflix has 500), but I believe Netflix gives you a warning when you reach 500. Blockbuster did not do this and when their system allowed me to exceed 1000 movies and once that happened I could no longer log in. I called five or six times and emailed customer support and they could not delete the movies from my queue so I had no control over my queue anymore and was just getting movies and sending them back without watching them. At the time I got locked out I had TV show seasons out of order so I couldn’t even watch them. Additionally, it was great having coupons for store rentals but the stores never had anything decent in and I always had to wait for Blockbuster movies. It won’t be long before Blockbuster goes out of business anyway so they won’t even be an option eventually.

      • sam

        so….. you work for blockbuster, right?

        sorry, I’m with jed. netflix is superior. blockbuster streaming is a very poor alternative to netflix – I’d prefer hulu plus – and it’s no wonder their stores are all going out of business when i can have the same DVDs shipped to me in 24hrs (or I’ve gotten mine in less) without leaving my house. derp.

        oh well, in any case, the free market has spoken – netflix subscriptions are through the roof, and blockbuster is about 1 day from going out of business.

      • internet justice

        hey, jed never sed anything about netflix, just said blockbuster was crap, while the last one here went out of biz ages ago, yes they are lacking in taste for cultured film. very few indie and other films are carried, it’s like mcmovie, as opposed to small, thriving specialty video stores that have all the film festival, indie developed, and artistic films

      • LifeAfterLost

        i love when people argue with big words

      • AcaseofGeo

        @ Carrie….A THOUSAND MOVIES QUEUD???? Seriously? You went OVER a 1000 movies queud…AND YOUR WHINING WHY????????

      • internet justice

        a case of geo, you astroturf much?
        its crap like you that cause sites to ask for info before posting. as far as bbuster employees losing their job, that was a favor to them, since no money can make up for even second lost in that place.

        and you can shut up abut people whining. your the one doing it. people are expressing their opinion in a free country. why is a person complaining that a 1000 movie que broke? learn to read budda… because the POS system broke. the WHOLE POINT of this backlash is a stupid comapany either hired an incompetent family member where they really should not have, or focused way more on monetizing the very users that put bread on the table. tghat is a huge case of biting the hand that feeds you, and in ANY case it calls for the FIRING of the idiots responsible. additionally, they, and astroturfers like yourself need to go on an INTERNATIONAL DATABASE, name, photo, ip, everything, along with a michael lombardi flowchart tracking your money, and people you know. and life, who is using “big words”? u cant mean me, or anyone else in this thread. perhaps you are educated beyond your intelligence, but most posts here are very simply worded, to get thru to even borderline functionals like yourself.

        besides read the article, it’s OBVIOUS that shady VP is lying, defending a system that only the want–whats their motive? sure the people the HIRED won’t say it’s CRAP but everywhere they went was one place short of the REAL WORLD, where people pay them, and EXPECT accountability. This privilidged, pampered, cheap perfumed executive needs a reality check, such an attitude of indifference is unacceptable towards the people that fund his bonus. The only acceptable place for parasitic, golden parachute types who cant care less about their PAYING customers is the long, smelly, unemployment line.
        those big ENUF WERDS for you loser? if you cant read them, at least you can count the letters in them
        and geo, people can cus as much as they want, or do whatever they want, they are PAYING for it, what you think is totally IRRELEVANT. once this gets going, and someone makes a STANDALONE PLUG in that is FOSS, nflix wil be put in it’s proper place–licking its’ customers’ asses and calling it ice cream…
        this just shows who is in bed with hollywood, and who is really, really scared of internet, word of mouth, and indie films. and if those are big words for you, dont watch movies, bwork on your reading comprehension skills instead, suck it up buttercup, and become a contributing member of society–yes that starts with literacy(hint:you dont belong here with scery WERDS, and zomg! sentences.

      • Cameron Graham

        The comparisons between Netflix streaming and Blockbuster really aren’t fair or accurate. Netflix offers the streaming as an essential free add-on to their dvd plans, allowing you to watch as much streaming content as you wish each month. And the selection isn’t full of new releases, true, but it has tons of quality programs.

        Blockbuster on the other hand offers their DVD plans (with the additional in-store returns, if you can find a still operating Blockbuster location), and then the online streaming as an a-la-carte add on. It’s not included in the price of the plan, so to say the selection is better is somewhat misleading. Yes, they have newer movies for instant watch, in the same way that Amazon On Demand, iTunes, or my Comcast box has newer movies. But each one costs 3.99 or more to rent ON TOP OF my existing plan.

        Saying Blockbuster is a better service for the money seems rather ridiculous, unless you only compare the mail-only option. Add in streaming and Blockbuster is exponentially more expensive.

      • Al

        Except Blockbuster shows censored/edited (more family friendly–even cutting out sex of course) movies without telling you that they did it.

    • Marie

      +1

      • Gracelin

        Thanks for writing such an easy-to-undertsand article on this topic.

    • tvgirl48

      Totally agree too. I kept hearing the world rave about how great and convenient Netflix is, so I signed up for the free trial, prepared to fall in love. What I found was an abysmal selection of streaming movies. If I’m going to wait for DVDs to be physically sent to me, I’ll just go get them from a rental place on my own schedule rather than wait for one to reach me. I guess Netflix can be cheaper, but our last remaining local rental place has plenty of deals and specials that you can utilize to keep the cost of renting pretty low.

      • amj

        Well in my neck of the woods, Blockbuster stores are going out of business. With only 1 months notice no less. I love Netflix but I will agree their instant movie selection is limited but I love their instant TV selection. I do wish I could get Hulu on my streaming DVD though!

        Give me back the chance to check “not interested” Please!!!

      • tvgirl48

        Oh yeah Blockbusters around here are completely gone as are Hollywood videos. I remember going to lots of them in the area as a kid to get my early education in movies, but all gone now. We’ve got one Family Video in a good location still hanging on, thankfully.

      • Julie

        We no longer have Blockbusters in my town so there’s no point in switching from Netflix.

      • Seriously?

        How long is too long to wait for a DVD? We have Netflix (love it btw) and we get a movie, we watch it when we want, send it back and in a few days have another. In the meantime, we life our life. What’s the problem again? Oh yeah, the interface. God, get over it.

    • Rush

      Using the web with Netflix is so last decade. Console and handheld mobile users won’t notice a difference.

    • Mike

      With this new interface, you wouldn’t know if they added more content.

  • Skye Hill

    I couldnt care less. I watch Netflix on my 360.

    • somet

      idiot

      • banana

        Why does that make them an idiot? I watch it primarily on my ps3. Does that make me stupid?

      • Skye Hill

        You’re the idiot that watches Netflix on a PC instead of on a TV. DERP DERP DERP

      • tarc

        Actually, you use the gaming console to watch the streaming vidio on any digital viewing option you own – computer monitor or large screen HD TV. Idiot.

      • Tommy

        Wow guys, waita keep the conversation civilized. That being said I wish they would change the interface of the ps3 streaming, they’ve switched between the current one and another one for a long time now but the other was better, MUCH BETTER.

      • Dusty

        I agree with Tommy, I’m not a fan of teh current ps3 streaming interface. I preferred it when I could click on a title and then get a hain of similar titles. It was much easier to look over their movie selection that way.

  • Clarissa

    I love the kneejerk reactions to website redesigns… the scores of people who proclaim “Well if it stays like this them I’m done!” and the 90% of those who are still there to do it again during the next redesign…

    • kermit

      You are wrong, both me and my inlaws as well as a family down the street just cancelled our Netflix because of this design, it is now Redbox for us only.

    • Former User

      I canceled my membership too. The new UI (with no sort feature) made navigation a chore.

      • Former User 2

        Same here.

  • UGH

    I’m annoyed at the interface of EW half the time because of having to look at Twilight garbage nearly every day.

    • lefty

      I absolutely ABHOR the design of EW’s Summer Movie Guide. I can never just find the reviews (it takes more clicks than I like anyways…).

      • Mike

        THIS. Finding a review hardly seems with the effort it takes.

      • Lazarus Spazarus

        Totally agree. The Summer Movie Guide layout is terrible.

      • Tracey

        I agree. I spend almost as much time searching for the review as I do reading it.

      • Sarah

        THIS

      • Anya

        I totally agree with this. If I click on the movie review on the first page, why is it so hard for this site to just send me to the movie review? And when they send me to their movie page rather then the review I’m looking for, I usually have to search the movie page for whatever it was I was trying to click on. Just saying.

      • AK

        Thank you! I’ve been thinking this for weeks. But they’ve got to get those extra page views and make that ad money.

    • tvfan

      I so agree, worst design ever. Are they trying to discourage us?

    • Kaiulani

      Glad I’m not the only one who can’t stand the Summer Movie Guide.

      • Mother Nature

        I find the Summer Movie Guide often goes in link loops. Click to get to page B, get to page C. Click on page C, go back to page A. I feel like a monkey.

    • Andrea

      So glad you said something about the insanely frustrating UI for the summer movie guide. I couldn’t find the Super 8 review for quite some time. It’s so frustrating! I’d love it if the design team at EW.com could check out these comments and keep them in mind come fall tv season guide/holiday movie guide, etc.

    • Rokham

      Wii Homebrew is dieinftely an unlock software for Psp 3000. It allows you to have access to many other features and never have to tear your mechanism separate.

  • Krystal

    I don’t like the fact that its so hard for me to find what I just previously watched so i can watch the next episode.

    • Lilly

      Plus, it takes multiple steps to get back to a list of episodes with descriptions for a series. I wanted to pick the episodes I wanted to watch rather than have Netflix automatically play the first one and then the next in sequential order. Every time an episode ended, I had to stop the player and go back to search the series name and then go through an extra two steps to get a list of episodes. Choosing “More Episodes” gets a list of episodes but not the description. “Back to Browsing” takes you back but if you click on the series you just watched, again, it automatically plays the next episode. When you don’t want to watch all or in order, it is very frustrating. I also find the search is much lousier. When you click on TV Comedies, sitcoms, for example, you only get twelve in each category – some in multiple categories – rather than all that is available. “See All” doesn’t really show you all of them. It’s hard to browse.

    • Anya

      I do appreciate them putting entire series on one page, where you can just click to pick your season, but what they did with “recently watched” is what really makes me mad. Also it just plain doesn’t look as good as it did before.

  • alex

    I still think it’s absolutely BS they got rid of the friends features. Seeing what my friends watched and rated was one of the best features and ways Netflix stood otu from other sites. I’m still a member, but that change was incredibly stupid. See above, “not broke, why fix,” etc.

    • banana

      They had that at one time? My friends and I discuss how they should do something like that all the time. I had no idea it was a feature they once had.

      • Daisy

        Yes they did banana and they got rid of it in favor some kind of link to FB where your ratings will come up on your status/wall or something like that. I loved the friends feature on Netflix because it allowed me to sort of keep in touch with my friends and family who live far away from me–it helped me feel close to them–to know what they were watching and recommending. None of them have FB accounts and it’s really not the same just having your ratings appear in a FB update. I don’t know. I’m bummed on a number of levels with my Netflix membership.

      • Dave

        Too true….the Friends feature was great not only for linking up to your friends to see what they were watching and rating, but you could also add Favorites of people you didn’t necessarily know for those people who had similar tastes. You could find them by either reviews, or lists they created, or even by that rating similarity percentages that Netflix would provide for you on the main page.

      • amj

        I too loved being able to see what my sister 10 states away from me was watching! And, I hate Facebook and was depressed by the move to FB! I don’t have a FB account and do not want one. I had hundreds of “friends” on netflix and was depressed to see them gone!

    • Lilly

      me too

    • amj

      I agree Alex, I too am still wildly upset about this! I spent just as much time on their website as I did on my tv and loved it! Those features were great and I miss them terribly!

      • Mizzus

        DAMN! You’re right, AHaU, I froogt about Critic’s Choice. I probably didn’t think of them because it’s a dump, or it maybe because the owner was busted for selling cocaine there!Following your point, I’m sure the State is glad to have all that additional parking!

      • Alexiy

        My ftavrioe town out of all Ia??ve been to, without a doubt is Lugano Swiss. Switzerland just has this nice connotation about it. Something I inherently obsess about, it is pleasant and comforting.

  • Matt

    At the very least, why can’t Netflix add an option to switch back to “Classic view”?

    Keep your updated ugly site all day long for all I care, as long as I can switch back to the original format.

    • banana

      I think that’s a great idea.

    • Laura

      Seriously, that is all I want. Completely agree. How hard would it be for them to do that? Honestly I don’t even care if it is hard, I freaking hate this new layout.

    • amj

      Great idea Matt!

  • RyRyNYC

    I logged onto Netflix and saw the new design, got frustrated trying to do something and promptly logged off. I’m not gonna cancel my subscription though… not yet at least… I’ll just use netflix on other devices like my iphone and wii.

    • Bstic

      I like this altrcie very much. I’ll definitely be back again. Hope that I can examine a lot more helpful posts then. Will probably be sharing your wisdom with all of my associates!

  • Aaron

    The obvious solution is to allow users to customize the interface to their liking. It’s not exactly rocket science. Choose the thumbnail size and what information you want displayed with it.

    That said, I like the streamlined approach, but hiding basic information from the user is something out of 1995. If I wanted to go to a video store and turn over every single box to read about the movie, then I would. I guess their test groups still have VHS players.

  • red

    I’m not enraged, but I am annoyed. It takes forever to scroll through a line of titles. It’s not particularly useable or efficient. It’s like they’re taking away my agency to find titles to watch.

    • Lauren

      Agreed. Unfortunately, it’s more like the interface on Wii and PS3, which has always irritated me. And what is it with Netflix’s aversion to alphabetical order or at least grouping TV series and movie sequels together? It would make browsing so much easier.

  • anikes

    I love the new interface. It’s nicer.

  • Peter

    Whatever. How about enhanced queue management. I want my twisted horror movies separate from Phineas & Ferb and Hello Kitty Furry Tale Theater.

    • JIMBO

      TOTALLY AGREE WITH PETER THEY NEED TO LET YOU FILE YOUR INSTANTS TO KEEP THINGS MORE ORGANIZED AND SEPERATE FROM THE KID’S CONTENT IN YOUR QUEUE.

    • Christa

      Yes!

    • mikey

      This is exactly where they should put their UI effort instead of screwing up a pretty decent interface. I’d really like some separation between my movies, my wife’s movies and the kids’ movies when I view my queue. I’d also like parental control options so I can make sure the kids only see age appropriate content.

      • banana

        Aaaaaaamen!

      • Mother Nature

        My kids were rating their movies last summer and suddenly I was getting offered the most offensive trip in my suggestions list. “Based on your 5-star rating of Star Wars Clone Wars and Sponge Bob Square Pants, may we suggest…”

    • orville

      Yes! They should allow up to 4 different queues per account. That would be fantastic.

      • Liz

        They do.

      • Kemir

        Thanks for the wrietup. I definitely agree with what you are saying. I have been talking about this subject a lot lately with my father so hopefully this will get him to see my point of view. Fingers crossed!

    • amj

      Totally agree!!!!!!

  • Aaron

    Don’t judge a movie by its cover! Oh wait, that’s exactly what they are going for!

  • brandinb

    I don’t mind the changes, except I really like the personal rating scale visible. I may one of the few, but I still don’t just use Netfilx for instant viewing. Their selection isn’t large enough for that so I’m not a huge fan of the trend to push instant viewing.

    • Jay

      Agreed. I use the instant viewing from time to time, but getting Blu-Ray discs to my home is my main reason for paying my netflix monthly fee.
      Improved streaming services is just gravy, as far as I’m concerned

      • Lilly

        Me too Jay. The Blu-Ray discs in the mail is still my number one reason for Netflix. Having tried to watch a few episodes of a tv show the other day, which used to be very user friendly when streaming on my PC, I got so frustrated with the new interface I decided it wasn’t worth the effort. I don’t even bother streaming to Wii anymore – it has to reload at least every 15 minutes. The gravy stinks.

    • Katie

      I agree. It wouldn’t be bad if they would just add back the rating indicator.

  • California

    The screen has been like this for me since I joined in February. I don’t really like it. …Well, there has been one change, I used to be able to hover on movies and get told the synopsis and my suggested rating but that stopped. Now my only option is to click play. It’s not very helpful when the image displayed doesn’t even have the movie or show’s name on it.

    • Laura

      Yes that is so annoying. You can click “more info” or something but I liked being able to get a snapshot of the synopsis and cast without having to go to a new page.

      • Laura

        Okay I’m dumb, you just hover over the poster for info… Reading comprehension fail.

      • Anita

        Superb read, I just pssead this onto a colleague who was doing a little study on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I located it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

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