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What every DVD player should do

Power

How can I help you, Dave?

That’s the power button on my DVD player. Now, my DVD player is pretty intelligent- it’ll automatically turn off when my TV turns off, and it’ll even turn on my TV for me if I insert a disc. It’s only a year old, but it shares a fatal design flaw with every, single DVD player I have ever used.

Good intentions, bad anticipation

Good intentions, bad anticipation

See that? That’s what my DVD player flashes at me if I turn it on and, no DISC is inside. Well okay, that’s good to know. What should we do next? Probably insert a DVD! Let’s look at the user experience

  1. We just pressed the power button on the DVD player, indicating it should turn on its interface so we can use it.
  2. We were just informed there is no DISC in the player, so, we should insert one.
  3. We put a disc in the DVD player and the movie starts playing automatically.

Oh wait, we’re skipping over a step. Let’s correct this experience:

  1. We just pressed the power button on the DVD player, indicating it should turn on its interface so we can use it.
  2. We were just informed there is no DISC in the player, so, we should insert one.
  3. We push the Open/Eject button on the player (we’ll ignore the obvious human factors issue with how insanely small these buttons always are).
  4. We put a disc in the DVD player and the movie starts playing automatically.

See the problem? It’s in Step #3! Removing that step would create a significantly better user experience for 99% of your users. We already know that the user wants to interact with the DVD player, and the only way to make that interaction go any further is to get a disc playing. So why not grease the skids by automatically doing this when I turn on a DVD player with no disc inside?

Aye, Aye Captain!

Aye, Aye Captain!

So I’m begging future DVD makers- help me help you and have the DVD player just open when I turn it on and there’s nothing in there! I’ve never seen a someone turn on a DVD player and say “well, there’s no DVD in there… who’s up for Scrabble?”

Poor Follow-through

Photo by nsaplayer on FlickrThis happens a lot in user experience, people seem to constantly Tog’s First Principle of Interaction: Anticipation. It’s all about looking at not just what your interaction needs to do in the current storyboard panel, but how it can prepare users for the next panel and the one after that until you’ve end up with a good experience.