As of thursday, January 14, the website for HBOGo has finally undergone a much needed redesign of their website user interface. My wife and i both being designers always commented on the horrible user experience HBOGo provided every time we watched the otherwise excellent programming at HBO. How could such an innovative, forward thinking company have such an outdated design and interface?
After many years of lingering in the doldrums of good design, HBOGo has finally redone their website and user interface . . . but now the question is, is it good? Have they finally lived up to the potential of their incredible programming with shows like Games of Thrones, Silicon Valley or The Sopranos?
Clearly, they are ‘borrowing inspiration’ from the largest streaming service in the world, Netflix. Though the new HBOGo design is very similar to Netflix, it has much less elegance and functionality. For example when you hover over a show in Netflix, you get information about the show that pops up without any further interactivity. It’s so easy, elegant and informational. All the information you need is easily reachable. On HBOGO, you have to click though on the not-so-obvious title to see details of the various episodes but even then its not that informative. There’s no information about the show at all, just a way to choose between seasons and list of the episodes in that season. How about a summary, credits or even comments. At least they’ve ditched unreadably small font and annoying horizontal scrolling.
The Design of the new HBOGO.com still leaves a lot to be desired
Perhaps the most glaring omission is the lack of a history function. There’s no way to see what you’ve already watched or pick up where you left off. Netflix had this feature about 5 years ago. This is such an obvious and expected function for today’s voracious media consumers it can hardly be stressed how pitiful it is that they don’t have this functionality.
Overall, the new web design for HBOGo is a big improvement over the old website. The problem we have with it, besides the obvious ones discussed above, is that it is too safe . . . especially for a company known for taking bold risks. This is the website they should have had years ago which makes the design still out of date. The HBOGo design team should be slightly embarrassed that they were not bold enough to have a website to match our bold programming choices.