for teachers

I was just thinking that the netflix queue is a great design problem for any design class. Queue […]

queue_netflix.gifI was just thinking that the netflix queue is a great design problem for any design class.

Queue management is fairly complex, especially in a two-person household like mine. For example, I went out of town. Suddenly philippe needed to get all “his” movies to the top of the queue. However, once I get back, we want to sprinkle a combination of his, mine and ours. We also go through moods– comedies, classics, french. We also watch old series sometimes, like the avenger, and unlike other movies, it is *not* okay if the second disk comes before the first.

Really, once the queue grows to 200+ proportions, the problems are very different. You don’t actually care if a movie is 57 or 62 in the queue– what matters is “right now” and “someday” for a given film. How could this be handled?

Plus, as you can see here, the page gets very long. How can someone cognitively hold all that data in heir head well enough to manage it’s organization?


Add Yours
  1. 1
    George Girton

    I’m astonished and impressed that you have so many movies in your Netflix queue. Perhaps an ‘on-deck’ shopping-basket-like area of the queue would be an interesting way to handle the overflow of what could possibly arrive any minute now.

  2. 3
    anthony morales

    I think at this point I’d be begging for some sorting tools (priorty, title, rating, category, etc), and a drag-and-drop way to resort my movies. How else would I know what’s in there? Scanning a huge list? No way. I’d probably just go to Netflix Freak. I do that now and I’ve only got 60 movies in my queue. Sometimes you gotta ask yourself “Do I really want to watch The Trial of the Incredible Hulk?” (yes, it’s in my queue – and yes, I’m wondering)

  3. 5

    If y’all watch 2 movies a day four days a week, you’ll have 62 weeks of movies in this queue alone…but getting rid of “Johnny Moronic” would help immensely 🙂

    On another note–does having a movie in your queue mean someone else is blocked from putting it on theirs? If so, wouldn’t your list be a bit…unfair? I dunno…it’s been awhile since I’ve been a Netflix member. Perhaps Netflix could tier the lists: say the first 20 titles are priority blockouts, and the others are floating nice-to-haves. Too, you could have a Schneiderman-like interface that allows you to zoom in & out based on diff. categories: date, genre, director, actor, location, language….

  4. 6

    No, having all those movies does nothing to anyone, except me. The movies are only unavailable once they’ve been shipped. one is encouraged by netflix to keep a long queue so that when a movie is unavailable, the next in the queue can be sent.

    I’m not sure they conceived that such queues can exist, but they aren’t unusual (an informal survey of Friends tells me).

    As for the big picture that squishes everything; it’s rather the point.
    The queue for me is actually acting as a wishlist at this point. one better interface might be to simply allow one ot mark movies as “interesting” and pick from that into the queue (as well as pull movies out from the queue back into “interesting”

    it also would be helpful to have multi-user access to a single queue. That would allow philippe and I to distinguish my interests from his.

  5. 7

    I like the ideas mentioned of having two separate lists- your queue, and a stack, or “interested” list. I think they should limit your queue to 25, or even 10 movies and the rest get dumped into the interested list. Then when you go to view your queue, they show you 3-5 movies from your interested list to remind you they’re on there.

    The question is which ones do they suggest? They could be random, or they could be movies with no wait, or they could be themed. Feeling nostalgic? Move these 3 Classics to the top of your queue. Or how about a Coen brothers weekend? Move Fargo, Raising Arizona and Miller’s Crossing to the top. Or they could be timed to coincide with events, like Spellbound for the week of the national spelling bee. Of course with that option you’d quickly end up with long waits for those movies.

  6. 9
    Mark Fusco

    The one thing that’s always “disturbed” me about the Netflix que is trying to resort the movies and scrolling up and down the list to replace no. 6 with 57 and then scrolling down to 57 and replacing with 6. Once or twice is really not that big a deal, but after several times it becomes a challenge.

    I’d like to see some type of automated “smart form” which consisted of 2 forms side-by-side. The first would contain the current place in the que (6) and the second would indicate the new desired position (57). The form would then automatically switch the numbers, saving me the trouble of scrolling.

    Don’t have a clue if that’s even possible, but it’d be nice.

  7. 10

    Design Case

    Elegant Hack poses an interesting design problem for students (or anyone, I guess): Redesign the relatively clunky Netflix movie queue. Queue management is fairly complex, especially in a two-person household like mine. For example, I went out of town….

Comments are closed.