Can’t find this reported anywhere or talked about on social media so I guess it’s a scoop. Today Disney+ made the first noticeable user interface change since launch on November 12, 2019. Adding credence to my joke that “they’re watching me” they made a change to title pages that I complained about 3 weeks ago – the waste of screen real-estate on title pages. Below you’ll see the old Disney+ title page UI as well as that of Netflix, Paramount+, and HBO Max.
As you can see, Netflix is the ugliest. Disney is the only one where the episodes aren’t visible without scrolling. HBO Max and Paramount+ are rather similar overall. Disney+ is close to those two but uses an oversized logo. Netflix is the only one without the beautiful splash image and it’s also ugly (have I mentioned that?). I don’t want to see the homescreen behind my title page. Finally, Disney Plus is the only one using horrendous tabs to hide suggestions and extras (more on this in a moment).
On Disney+ when you scroll down the splash image darkens which emphasizes the metadata / content. Since they have a huge logo and start 2 inches down the page we had to scroll to get to the episode list. I suggested they remove space from the top of the page so that people can see the relevant info without scrolling. Today, they did just that. They also shrunk the title’s logo and scrunched the metadata under the logo to save more space and help keep it from blending into the description. Another new features is the addition of logos for Closed Caption and Audio Descriptions. There is a bug where the “CC” logo appears twice, but it’s start. They should also consider adding a bit more space between the two rows of metadata under the logo as it looks too crowded.
For comparison, check the two photos below. Left is the old look and right is the new look.
It’s a subtle, but overall positive change. Better use of the screen real-estate while still maintaining the big background image. You can now see more of the episodes than the other services.
It’s disappointing that this new change didn’t come with any other missing features or more necessary improvements, but it’s good to see Disney hasn’t stopped evolving.
2 Changes Still Needed
1) Episode Access
Paramount Plus and HBO Max still do one thing MUCH better with their title pages – the episodes appear in a grid format instead of the awful slider bar used by Disney that you have to keep clicking an arrow on the right side of the screen to advance.
See below for a comparison to how Disney hands episodes (left) and HBO Max (right).
HBO Max / Paramount+ get it. Why would you make it so difficult and time consuming to access episodes of a show that has more than 5 episodes in 1 season? On Adventures in Wonderland (1992 – still erroneously listed as 1996) there are 99 episodes in one long season. That’s a lot of clicking just to get anywhere…
Hopefully this tweak will soon be followed by the implementation of grid access to episodes.
2) Remove Tabs
Prior to launching this site I scooped back in October that Disney had altered their interface on Kids profiles to remove tabs and make it more user friendly. See a comparison below to the same title on a Kids profile (left) and the Adult profile (right).
At the time I theorized the update would roll out across the platform for the 1 year anniversary. Astonishingly, 9 months later the update remains only present on Kids profiles… Now, with the wasted space removed from the top of the page AND the tabbed content converted into sections, the Kids profiles look even better. It’s a pity the adult profiles can’t use the “Kids” interface, but with full library access.
One of the primary reasons this tabbed UI has been detested since launch is because anything under the EXTRAS tab is unknown and unwatched by the general population. When the EXTRAS tab content is a row / section it’s actually accessible.
As for why Disney includes a brief description on each title page and a longer synopsis on the DETAILS tab – I honestly don’t know. I see zero reasons for both to exist. It feels like a bad, redundant design choice and isn’t present on other services. Particularly in the case of the Kids profile image above where tabs are gone. If this is the eventual planned UI everywhere and not a mistake that has gone unfixed for 9 months, why would you describe the title twice so close together? Just stick with the brief description and now you have less to manage…
More Changes Coming?
“Disney Plus Twitter” legend Helison revealed another upcoming tweak a couple weeks ago. Disney had accidentally rolled out an update where basic descriptions of each title along with their duration appeared underneath the thumbnails across the site to improve accessibility. They rolled it back quickly.
Meanwhile many users continue to sit befuddled wondering why these minor aesthetic changes appear higher priority than industry standard features such as “Remove from Continue Watching” (available on every other streaming service), the “Watchlist row on the homescreen” (available on every other streaming service except Hulu), “NEW indicators” over thumbnails of new content (available on most services) and the ability to add titles to a watchlist from the thumbnail (available on most services).
What do you think about these new changes? Do you agree with my list of necessary tweaks to their title pages?
Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.