Friday, November 25, 2005

Day 206

<rant subject="DVD">

Today's rant is about DVDs, aimed at the people who put them together. We watched one last night, and another one tonight, and once again I'm struck by how appalling the "user experience" (for want of a better word is).

  • It's my DVD. I should be able to put it in the player and watch it immediately. I shouldn't be forced to watch warnings about copyright, or animated corporate logos; I should be able to go straight to the content that I paid to own a copy of. Having a little "forbidden" icon show up on screen when I press Menu or Fast Forward is not on.
  • Fire all of the menu designers. Just because DVDs allow you to have arbitrary animations and selectable areas on screen doesn't mean you should use them. The menus should be immediately accessible (no 10 second animations before loading menus) and obvious (no hunting for what part of the screen represents 'select scene')—and while we're at it, don't use a 2x2 grid for selecting between four episodes of a show (which one is number 2, top right or bottom left?)
  • For a DVD collecting multiple episodes of a TV show, put an index mark just after the end of the opening credits. No matter how good the credits are, they get awfully annoying by the end of a 22 episode series.
  • For a widescreen film, don't (only) have the subtitles available below the film. The customer has bought a widescreen version of the film, chances are they've got a widescreen TV; if the subtitles are below the picture, they can't watch it in widescreen and still see the subtitles. (And yes, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was one of the DVDs I watched recently)
  • The filthy Internet exists, as does transatlantic shipping and foreign holidays. Get over it. Don't ever try that region coding shit again.
I think it all boils down to one simple principle: remember that people are buying the DVD to watch the show and nothing else.

It's also related to an earlier rant: actually test the product in the same way that the customers are going to use it in the real world.


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