Last night I cancelled my Blockbuster Online account and returned to the Netflix fold. It just goes to show that it doesn’t always come down to price when it comes to deciding between competing services and that good design really does make a difference.
h3. Hello, Old Friend
And how did I feel when I fired up my old account again? I can honestly say that returning to the Netflix site was like coming back to an old friend.
Hello clean, pleasing layout. Hey there, easy-to-use design. Hi, ability to add new theater releases to my Saved list. Welcome back, all the things that I liked about the site and so missed during my absence.
h3. Too Many Web Site Problems
It’s safe to say that there were so many things I disliked about the Blockbuster site that the chances of me sticking with them, despite their being a few dollars cheaper a month, were always slim, even from the get-go. I “wrote about my initial impressions”:http://www.smileycat.com/miaow/archives/000144.php when I signed up for a free trial (two months plus a free DVD – nice!), and they didn’t improve even after I got used to the site.
There were just too many things that bugged the hell out of me (horrible visuals, poor UI design, tiny text, links that couldn’t be opened in a new tab, poor search). Plus, the movies did seem to take a little longer to get to me.
Interestingly, this last point didn’t bug me as much as the fact that the site was difficult to use. Perhaps this is because I’m not a power renter, so if there’s a few days between movies I didn’t mind too much.
The real kicker is that when I was with Netflix I actually used to enjoy browsing around the site, looking for movies that I hadn’t heard of. Tinkering with my queue was quite a enjoyable experience and was an enjoyable way to kill a few minutes.
Not so at Blockbuster. The site was so frustrating to use that I would simply search for the movie I wanted (having done my research on Metacritic), add it to my queue and get the hell out.
h3. At Least It’s Easy to Cancel
On the plus side, it was easy to cancel my Blockbuster account, and they store your rental history for six months (so who knows, maybe at some point in the future? Are you kidding me? Stop that line of thinking right there).
h3. A Design Problem Example
On the minus side, and a point which I think exemplifies the design problems with the site, after you cancel they ask you why you cancelled and provide you with a list of about 15 choices.
I wanted to choose about five of them, but because radio buttons were used as the method of interaction, you could only choose one! There’s no reason why these choices should be mutually exclusive of each other (“the only time you should use radio buttons”:http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20040927.html) and so check boxes would have been a better choice. Plus, they would have got richer data from their customer feedback.
The site is littered with these sorts of design problems.
Anyway, it’s great to be back at the big ‘N’, checking out my recommendations, reading other people’s reviews, and generally expanding my movie horizons.