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Apr 2008

Guidance : Readability and graphic treatment of labels

Self-proclaimed as the new “Youtube Killer”, Hulu, the project of both NBC and News Corp, just came out as a public beta.

The launching was a great success; unfortunately, we can’t access all the great content outside the U.S.

The site is visually appealing and very interesting (even if it’s similar to Apple’s graphic style). The graphic grid is clear, the content is easy to read, everything flows… However, a navigation problem caught my attention in the very first minutes. It looks like an insignificant detail at first, but it quickly gets really frustrating!

The problem is the following: we don’t notice that “TV” and “Movies” at the bottom of the screen are buttons right away.

Each section menu is presented as in the picture below:

Several problems are visible on this navigation menu:

1. On the homepage, the “TV” and “Movies” labels don’t appear to be important. The fact that they are buttons isn’t obvious right away.
2. “Browse TV” and “Browse Movies” lead to the TV and Movies sections without guidance indications.
3. After going on the “Browse TV” and “Browse Movies” sections, the items on the gray menu bar change.

Those little issues create a loss of context during the transitions from one section to an other. They repeatedly take time to understand.. When you are in the TV section it becomes impossible to access the HD videos gallery.

I think the intention there was probably to create three distinct universes: The global Hulu TV website, the “TV” section and the “Movies” section; every one of them having their own content and their own information architecture. Unfortunately, I think that the distinction between those three “universes” is not clear enough.

To avoid too much change in the Information Architecture, I’d like to propose an economic solution that consists of simply reviewing the presentation of the top menu in order to make it a two level menu. You can see what I mean on the picture below.

A simple graphic intervention on the menu would help the user understand where he is. It would avoid the loss of context between sections because he would now be clear that there are three sections on the website.

Other solutions could also be considered. Have you got any ideas to suggest?

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