Another DVD Menu Fail

Having finally got to the episode selection screen on a DVD at the weekend, I was presented with a rather confusing screen. I wanted to watch the second episode, but what I saw was this:

Episode Title                                          Episode Title

Episode Title                                          Episode Title

Four episodes laid out as two rows of two, with no indication as to which order they should be played in. The first was fairly obvious – I’d picked the top-left episode (and calling it “Pilot” was a pretty good indicator). But which was the second episode? Was it the bottom-left, or the top-right?

In this case it turned out to be the top-right – but I’ve got at least one other series that places the second episode in the bottom-left. Thankfully I haven’t come across one yet, but I’ll bet there’s a hideously malformed menu out there somewhere that uses clockwise or anti-clockwise ordering, making the third episode the one in the bottom-right.

This isn’t rocket science. If you insist on using ambiguous menu layouts then at least precede the episode name with a number. Better still, stop using ambiguous layouts in the first place. What’s wrong with a vertical list that can be navigated using the up and down buttons? Why do I have to use both down and right to get to the fourth episode?

It scares me that people actually get paid for this type of “design”. At the very least they should all be forced to read “The Design of Everyday Things“. If your DVD menu requires me to consult the box, read the booklet or index, look on the internet or “Play All” then skip through the first episode in order to identify which is the second one, you’ve failed.

Comment (1)

  1. I’ve seen this too and it’s confusing. I’ll stare at the screen with my thumb on the remote completely paralysed. Usually because if I fail and pick the wrong one, I won’t know it for a few minutes, I’ll spoil the previous show with the “Previously on” bits, and it’ll take me probably several clicks to get back to the episode-selection screen.

    It’s horrible UI.

    Many film companies hire out to do the DVD menu systems, or if they’re large enough, have their own teams. It’s a whole cottage industry!

    nice blog. 🙂

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