DVD Menu Design - The worst yet?
I can't remember when was the last time that I played the DVD without fumbling through the menu to find the "Play Movie" link or to select a chapter and not sure where the chapters list is going to be or should I hover over or select the chapter list? Recently I was trying to play Monsters Inc. for my children (age 4 and 2 respectively) and I had to hit enter three times before I got to play the movie. I can't just put a movie in and think that it will just play by itself. This article has a lot of valid points about how painful the DVD menu design getting to be.
DVD menu is an example of complex design of something that would otherwise be so simple? Why can't I just pop in a DVD and it'd just play a movie for me? If I want all the extra stuff or the previews, I'd do it myself. I notice more and more newer movies will not allow me to get to the menu selection after the previews so I have to fast forward through the previews. Can someone say VHS?
It's amazing to see that with a lousy front end, DVD is still the defacto in movie home viewing. We are willing to overlook the inconveniences to watch a DVD. Imagine if I'd do that to one of my products, customers would have my head. That goes to say that Hollywood has a very strong influence on us. I don't know if there is any other industries that can do what they please and people still buy their products.
Imagine that someone go out and buy a car with a steering wheel may be in the left, or in the right, or in the middle, or whatever the car design decide to put the steering wheel (the ever-changing main menu selection). Oh yeah, the car doesn't go very fast (Star Wars Episode I chapter selection takes several minutes to get to the right chapter since I had to put up with the entire pod racing scene to go from one group of chapters to the next group). By the way, the car may start but you have to turn the ignition on may be one time, may be two times, or several times (I can't just start watching the movie right away anymore. Gotta push that "enter" button several times)? Do you think you would buy that car? And yes, we put up with the horrible of DVD watching. Now try to watch a movie with young children and you soon realize that you don't have the precious time to waste.
DVD could be so elegant since it's software controlled. It could be designed to automatically detect the signal from the TV and play movie with appropriate ratio aspect without users' intervention. A little usability testing and standardization could help eliminating end users' confusion. Furthermore, if someone from the movie industries cares to listen to users (as with any product managers would have to do), may be it could help improve the watching experience. Then again, I am just wishing...