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Netflix users fly into a blind rage at new interface; company stands by the change

Anybody else log in to Netflix this week and notice something was amiss? The site unveiled a new interface with a focus on instant streaming, an update which did away with sortable lists and instead showcases larger title images and a new click-less way of viewing movie options. If you’re like me, the biggest change is that your personalized ratings are no longer immediately viewable. (You want me to hover my mouse over this icon for 1.5 seconds before I can see how much I’ll like this movie? Unacceptable.)

If you’re not crazy about the new interface, you’re not alone. When the change occurred on Wednesday, Netflix’s director of product management Michael Spiegelman posted a short explanation on the site’s blog. As of today, over 1,950 Netflixers, mostly angry ones, have responded online. While some say they appreciate the change, many others have called out the update as “God-awfully hideous,” “bulky and awkward,” “totally horrible,” and “jarring,” among other choice adjectives. One user, Eric, commented, “I like the look and feel but the mouse delay to add to your queue is extremely unintuitive.”  Some users have even threatened to cancel their subscription if the old interface is not brought back.

Steve Swasey, vice president of corporate communicates at Netflix, says he’s well familiar with the user backlash. “Most of [the comments] have the same theme, which is ‘what was wrong with before?’ What we’re saying is we’ve tested this extensively, we know the vast, vast majority of people like this. It’s new, it’s easier, it’s cleaner.” When questioned about whether Netflix is planning on keeping the new interface despite the negative response, Swasey said, “Absolutely. We made it and tested it and researched it and tried it out and everywhere we tried it, it had a better reception. Otherwise we wouldn’t have made the change.”

As a frequent user, I understand the site’s attempt to emphasize its movie and television streaming option, but I have to side with my fellow users who object. While I like the floating parade of titles, I really wish they hadn’t downgraded the instantly visible rating system. Why fix something that wasn’t broken? Having said that, anyone who’s suffered through Facebook’s endless updates knows that sometimes all it takes to get used to a new interface is time, Maybe Swasey is right about this being an “improvement” and we all just need some time.

So what say you, PopWatchers? Had you noticed the change? What do you love/hate about it? Is it something you can grow to embrace or is your mouse hovering over the “cancel subscription” button as we speak? (You’re gonna need to hold it there for at least 1.5 seconds.)

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