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Always a Work in Progress

January 25th, 2008 by Eugene Wei SVP, Audience

Improving the user experience is a never-ending mission. We wanted to point out a few new Hulu site features that we think will make it easier for you to find, enjoy, and share your favorite programming.

First, we’ve upgraded our show pages to make it easier to sift through the sometimes hundreds of videos available for each show. Our video carousels for episodes and clips now allow you to sort the results to see the most popular, new, or highly rated videos first. We’ve also added pagination to the right and left arrows so you have a sense of how long the carousel runs, and we have a new design for our season filters so you can restrict the videos in a carousel to those from one particular season.

The most apparent addition is the new text list view for episodes and clips. Carousels are great for surfacing a small set of videos, but not efficient for browsing through, say, 400+ Saturday Night Live videos unless you’re a mouse-clicking addict. We’re always happy to see our content volume expand, but it was high time to supplement our carousels with an alternative browsing interface. The new list view can be sorted by clicking on the column headers, and you can reverse sort by clicking on the column header a second time. You can put your cursor over any text listing for a video and see the thumbnail and description for that video in a small mouseover window, and the far right column allows you to quickly add many videos to your playlist.

To make it easier for you to navigate to our new show pages, we’ve added a few wrinkles. The first is that searches for a specific show title surface a link to that show in the upper left of the search results page. That appears for shows available both on and off our site. We’ve also created shortcut URLs to make it easy to navigate directly to a show page. Simply add a show title after http://www.hulu.com/ and you’ll go directly to the page for that program. For example, www.hulu.com/30rock or www.hulu.com/familyguy.

We also now allow you to review not just individual videos but entire shows. Scroll to the bottom of a show page and write a user review to let the world know how you feel about a program. For example, we’d love to hear how you feel about some of the classic TV shows we’ve added just this week: Married With Children, NewsRadio, Partridge Family, and Who’s the Boss.

Finally, we’ve also made it easier to select your own clips to e-mail or embed. Click on the embed or share button while watching a video and you’ll see the new, expanded interface. The longer timeline allows you to set start and end points with up to one second of precision, and you can use right and left arrow keys on your keyboard to scrub forwards and backwards one second a time. No longer do you need the mouse-operating skills of an open heart surgeon to select the exact clip you want. As before, you can click on the preview button to watch your custom clip before sharing or embedding it.

We’ve still got a long list of site features and improvements in the works. As always, we love to hear great ideas from our users, so please do send suggestions and requests for how to improve our service to .

Cheers,

Eugene ()

Last comment: about 11 hours ago 22 Comments
  • Becky says:

    Why is only the current season Dancing with Stars available. I never saw it before I got HULU Plus and I like to see the back seasons?

  • Hi John,

    Thanks for getting in touch with us. I’m sorry for the playback trouble. Can you please try the following troubleshooting steps listed at http://bit.ly/kw1vli ? In addition, please “delete all sites” from your Flash cache at http://phtshp.us/2fZi .

    I hope this helps! If the issue persists, please feel free to email us at http://www.hulu.com/support so we can take a closer look!

    Thanks,
    Shirley
    Hulu Support

  • John says:

    Hey i have been watching hulu for a long time now but recently there has been a green bar on top of the videos and the color has been noticeably off. This keeps happening in both firefox and chrome and i do have the latest flash player. Please help.

  • Tanya says:

    Hi, I was wondering if you guys put the url addresses of each particular show and movie on your site? If so, where would I be able to find them?

    Thanks.

  • Joe says:

    Hey i don’t know if this is the section to do it in but I did notice this on websites I have previously been to. There is a chat option that allows you to chat with other users as you watch a TV show. I just thought it would be a cool addition to the Hulu site, even though it may complicate the site a bit more.

  • Sreya says:

    I really like the carousel idea, but it’s not carrying over into the video screen completely. I only get the first eight, and then it starts over, so I have to go back to the menu. Would love to see this fixed!

  • scambern says:

    I find the navigation system extremely frustrating. It should be intuitive to find a show and then view all episodes (not clips) in chronological order. This does not always work. Is there a reason you do not want it to be easy?

    On another note, why do you crank up the volume on the commercials? I’ll have the level set for the show, and then the ads come on and blow out my speakers. This is a stupid, old-school network trick that doesn’t play well on the Web.

  • Eugene says:

    Eric: We should have the same amount of content as network sites on current shows, and more content in terms of library shows and archived episodes. If there’s ever a case where we don’t, please let us know at feedback@hulu.com. As for content retention in general, our goals are the same as yours: more content available for as long as possible. Our content partners control streaming rights and are working hard with us to free up as much content as possible (in many cases streaming clearance is curtailed by previous legal agreements which differ show to show). It’s our job to get as much content for you as possible, and we know we still have a lot of work ahead of us on that front. You’ll hear more from us on this topic soon as I agree that we need to clarify the issue for all of you while not boring you to death with legal minutiae or talent restrictions, music clearance issues, syndication agreement restrictions, etc.

  • Eugene says:

    Mary: We still do get closed-captioning for some of our Fox shows, but sometimes they come in with timing issues because they aren’t made specifically for the timing in our online streams. We want to support more closed captioning across the board and are investigating solutions for getting there.

  • Eugene says:

    David: can you check to make sure you have the latest version of Flash installed, and can you double-check your download bandwidth speed using a site like, say, speedtest.net. If that doesn’t work, can you write into support@hulu.com with your system configuration? Most of our users are able to stream our videos fine, but we’re happy to work through any streaming issues with you.

  • Eugene says:

    Mike: we’re working on more fully-featured subscriptions management. Stay tuned.

  • Eugene says:

    Roon: thanks for pointing this out. We’re aware of this issue and have checked in a fix. It seems to be isolated to reading our company blog in a newsreader and didn’t affect other blogs or websites.

  • Eugene says:

    Thanks for all the good questions. Feel free to submit e-mails on these topics and questions to feedback@hulu.com and support@hulu.com as well. But I’m happy to field them here as well. Some answers for you, one by one. Brian: we’ll continue to support the old URL structure with the /show/ID/show-title structure for ALL shows, but for many shows we’ll default to the shorter structure for readability. Not all new shows will use the new naming convention right away because of URL collision and because we’re creating them by hand.

  • Hey…when will you allow for downloading to MP3 and MPEG devices???

    I don’t own an ipod but feel that these should be downloadable?

    any chance

  • Eric says:

    The new features are great but the ever-decreasing amount of archived content is driving me away from Hulu and toward the network sites. Is there a reason that content like episodes from past seasons of Family Guy expires off the site? A blog post clarifying your content retention practices would be much appreciated!

  • Mary says:

    Hi there. What happened to the caption/subitle/text option that used to be available with some of the Fox shows?

  • David says:

    How do you get the site to stream more than one sentence at a time without stopping? None of the network websites are as jerky.

  • Mike says:

    Can you add a way to unsubscribe to a show? Also a way to subscribe to just the episodes. I hate having the playlist fill up with content I don’t want.

  • Roon says:

    I subscribe to your blog in Google Reader. When trying to view your custom clips in Google Reader, they both started from the beginning of the show instead of showing just the clip you selected.

    The clips work fine here on your blog.

    About a week ago I first experimented with creating my own custom clip (ironically, the same “30 Rock” sequence). I embedded it on my blog and that played fine in the reader.

  • Brian says:

    Are the new Web addresses the same for all videos? For example, if I look at “Alias Smith and Jones” the URL reads http://www.hulu.com/show/136/alias-smith-and-jones. However, if I look at American Dad http://www.hulu.com/american-dad and many more, it seems that the URLs are in the new naming convention.

    Can we expect that all movies and shows will use the new naming convention?

    Thanks in advance
    Brian

  • Rolando says:

    i realize that the problem about the “green bar” it’s just when i use Fire Fox, i don’t know why, if i use IE everything’s great

  • Rolando says:

    The new interface doesn’t show all the “Browse Titles” when i put the cursor over “Browse Titles” they appear behind the Green Bar (user’s Profile)
    i hope you fix it
    I love Hulu

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