Saturday, July 25, 2009

Looks Good Works Well

I recently came across a the blog of Bill Scott, the Director of UI Engineering at Netflix ( Bill has some terrific blog posts as well as embedded slideshare presentations that are quite thought provoking about design, functionality and user interaction. Specifically, the presentations by Stephen Anderson is exceptionally done and deliver solid messages. You can view them at: I especially appreciate slide #63 in this presentation. It illustrates how usability is about removing friction while psychology is about increasing movitation. This slide was created by Joshua Porter, another great set of presentations if you are interested. Joshua is the Founder at Bokardo Design, a company that specializes in social web app design. You can also find his slides on Slideshare.

One more interesting quote from Stephen Anderson's site:
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — R. Buckminster Fuller


  1. That blog has some great content - thanks for the link!

    On the technical side, an important aspect of the Netflix experience is their recommendation algorithm. As their three-year Netflix Prize, a competition to improve their algorithm, draws to a close, they are already planning the sequel. Users might not notice a nice web experience, but they'll definitely notice a recommended movie they hated for two hours.

  2. So what does Bill Scott mean about Looks good works well?

    In regards to netflix, I never really cared for the move list, and how you have to go in and rank what you want to see first. Talk about excise! Have they updated this part?

    In the netflix slideshow talks about their culture. Increase rules..decrease talent. In detail the slideshow explains the values of Netflix and one was freedom of responsibility. He states that this means employee behave like owners. This sounds good in theory, but how do they manage 100's of employee with their own set of standards and ways of doing things? How do they manage quality?

  3. Anderson’s slide was good one. Now, interesting part is this. Since we know how human behave and what motive them, we can fool them to thinking the product excellent. Is this what we talked about HCI being puppet master? I guess if we know everything to know about human behavior, we don’t really have this kind of discussion. What makes interesting is that we as human know what those traits are. Marketing company and designing company know too. It’s a sort of fun game to play to see who is smarter. Looks at some good examples of teasing humans to make them want to do in that slides.

    I guess this concept proves that psychology is very important factor in dealing with HCI. I wonder if we need to learn more about marketing or at least know how to creating a buzz.

    About Netflix Recommendation Algorithm, I came across this post from Stefan Klocek in Cooper. It’s about how Netflix’s recommendation tool is not adequate compared to Amazon or Pandora. It’s interesting that Netflix UI Director posted a blog with a slide about seductive design to make users influenced. Then from Klocek’s blog, it shows Netflix is not using good methods to make users input their recommendation so Netflix is not getting enough data to figure out which movies to recommend.


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