If you can watch only one usability redesign this holiday season…

If you aren’t familiar with boxee, their goal is nothing less than putting cable out of business. No small task. Boxee is a media center interface for aggregating both locally stored and streaming movies, TV shows, music, photos and more. Whitney Hess will be leading the redesign of the user experience and it is a fascinating project because boxee is a critical time in their development. They’ve got loyal early adopters but it needs some work before it gets rolled out to the masses (and if they want o beat cable at it’s own game it has to work really, really well. Computer users have much higher standards than TV viewers. It’s weird but true. Two boxes, two different sets of expectations.)

Here’s how Whitney Hess describes the project in front of her, “So I have quite a challenge ahead of me — how do I preserve the existing elements of delight while making the app more scalable, more social, more effective and easier to use by a larger audience?

I’m starting off by doing usability testing with current alpha users, using boxee both on laptops and TV set-ups, and will additionally conduct interviews with prospective boxee users to learn their media consumption behaviors, attitudes, motivations and frustrations. Together these findings will be brought to light in a small set of user personas and scenarios, from which the necessary features for the ideal experience will emerge. Working closely with the boxee team, I’ll develop a set of wireframes to communicate how the features should be woven together in the most useful, usable, pleasurable way, screen by screen. From there the visual designer and developers will bring the product to life, infusing all of the sleekness and fluidity you’ve come to love so much. And all together we’ll test it, and validate it with users, and tweak it and test it again. On and on and on until we’re ready to launch beta.”

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2 responses to “If you can watch only one usability redesign this holiday season…

  1. I downloaded boxee about two months ago, and found the interface so immensely frustrating that I gave up within about 20 minutes.

    After reading this, I am re-downloading to follow along and see where this goes. I’ll call it a learning experience.

  2. Bill, thanks so much for covering this on your blog. I’m really excited to be working with boxee and look forward to hearing your thoughts as the process moves along. Take care.

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