By Peter Ramsey

29 Apr 20

The growing complexity of Hulu Company Logo
Hulu6 min read

The growing complexity of Hulu

The growing complexity of Hulu Featured Image

If you’re subscribed to Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+, then you already have more content available than you could ever realistically consume.

Which makes the user experience of other streaming services—such as Hulu—even more important. They can’t just be good, they need to be great.

This is a case study about signing up to Hulu, and highlights a few ways that they could improve their UX.

Key takeaways

  • 🍏

    Comparing apples for apples.

  • 🤴

    Why consistency is king.

  • 🍭

    The problem with Pick & mix.

3 UX takeaways

1. Apples for apples

Imagine this: you’re in a supermarket trying to select a new type of coffee bean. As you inspect each option, all you see are stories about their origin, and the farmers who grew the coffea plants.

Whilst this narrative may be compelling and pull on our marketing-heartstrings, it does make comparing each option extremely frustrating.

Now look at Hulu’s ‘package selection’ screen:

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Coffee bean packaging and Hulu have something in common here: people would find it way easier to compare the benefits of each option, if there was a standardised format.

The objective of a comparison screen is not to make the options sound great, but helping the user to understand the differences between them.

Look at those options in the image above, and ask yourself:

1. Which of the 4 packages include kids shows?

2. Which of the 4 packages are ad-free?

It’s awkward, frustrating and could very easily be resolved with a redesign.

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2. Don't modify the canvas

The width of a webpage matters—it’d be weird if I started only using half the screen for this article.

Yet, this is exactly what Hulu do halfway through their sign up journey.

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To be clear, the issue here isn’t that Hulu changed the page width, it’s that they changed it without any obvious rationale or benefit.

Later on in the journey, Hulu do need a full-width layout, but they’ve made the shift too early. And because the user can’t tell what’s coming up next, this change appears totally unnecessary.

Or rather: the lack of reason is disorienting, more than the change itself.

3. Pick & mix shopping

It’s believed that Woolworths were the first company to use the term ‘pick & mix’, in the 1950s.

I’m sure you’ve seen it before: people take an empty bag, fill it with as many sweets as they like, and then pay by the gram—or by volume.

This kind of sales technique is genius. The process is more exciting than buying a packet of sweets off the shelf, and if the total comes to slightly more than you’d expected, almost nobody will go and put some back.

But, this tactic should be reserved for cheap confectionary, and not used during the sign up process of a monthly internet service.

Whilst creating your Hulu package, you’re shown these add-ons.

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Now, you know the base price of your package, and you can see what these individual add-ons cost, but at no point does it show you a total of what your monthly charge will be.

Instead of the relatively minor risk of going 30p over budget on sweets, here you could take a monthly fee of $5.99, all the way to $35.47.

Plus, I can guarantee that some people will have been interested in these add-ons, but couldn’t be bothered to work out how much it all costs, and just skipped them.

Never underestimate the laziness of users.

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All of the UX analysis on Built for Mars is original, and was researched and written by me, Peter Ramsey.

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