Why I Got Lost in LeWeb3 Videos [en]

[fr] Petit tour des problèmes d'ergonomie qui ont été la source de mon billet précédent concernant vpod.tv.

Right, I’ve somewhat figured out how I managed to get lost in the LeWeb3 videos and not find things like permalinks or slider bars.

When you’re on the fullscreen page, no controls are clearly visible. Where is the pause button? There is “launch your TV” (tried that, but never go the answer to what it does, too slow to load for me) but that’s about it. When you click on individual videos, the URL never varies from http://my.vpod.tv/channel.html. Well, I poked around as I could, and gave up.

One thing I had overlooked was the four little icons near the bottom of the video which is playing (you can click on all the photos I’m showing here to access notes and extra info):


Which one would you click on? Well, after I really started to suspect there must be a way out, I tried them all. The third one was the most interesting to me:


To be fair, when you mouseover the buttons, some text is displayed. For example, text for the four buttons in the first photograph is “Sound”, “Video Greeting”, “Menu”, “ShowHide”. Unfortunately, you do have to mouseover to get to that information, as the icons themselves are not all self-explanatory. I definitely do not expect to find a menu listing of useful stuff I might want to do under the vpod.tv logo.

One shouldn’t expect a site user to drag his mouse over every portion of the screen which might be clickable to see what it is. Scanning available options is a job meant for the eye, not the hand. To make matters worse here, the mouseover text takes roughly twice the time a normal “title” tooltip would take to appear (on my system). A good two seconds. Who knows — I might even have mouseovered those icons and come to the conclusion there were no tooltips, when they didn’t appear after the expected delay.

The problem repeats itself. Look at the vertical bar of icons in the screenshot above. Have a guess. What do you expect them to do? Well, here is what the tooltips say, from top to bottom: “Share”, “Get link”, “RSS feed”, “Info”, “Flag it”, “Help”, and “About us…” — you’ll notice that the same vpod.tv logo is used for the “About us…” link as for the “Menu” one. It makes much more sense for “About us…”

In short, rather poor usability for essential navigation items and functionalities on a page like this.

Now, I’m still hunting for a permalink to the video I’m watching, remember? “Get link” sounds like a good one, though “Info” is tempting too (chances I’d click on that directly if I start mouseovering from the bottom, which would be logical as that is where my cursor was).


Bingo! There’s my permalink. Let’s click on it.


Well, that worked as expected. I get to see the video, I can display useful information about it, and I can even download it. Nice. The only sad part is that the URL in the address bar has changed from http://portal.vpod.tv/leweb3/69391 to http://portal.vpod.tv/#page:player. What a pity!

A slider bar appears when I put my mouse over the video, and there is a pause/play button. I’m still not sure if such features are available in the fullscreen version and I couldn’t find them, or simply not available. The slider works, but unfortunately doesn’t tell me which moment of the video I’m aiming for, so it’s a bit hit-and-miss if, say, you want to jump to minute 8 of my video to hear me try to talk (hint, hint).

So, I started watching my panel. The sound is good, and that’s pretty cool (as I heard that it was almost unintelligable during the conference for people who were listening in on the stream). Unfortunately, somebody must have been a little overenthusiastic about compression and the small amount of key frames, because LeWeb3 speakers seem to all have contracted a really horrible skin disease which makes unsightly blemishes appear on their skin at regular intervals:

20070121-vpod-compression-illness 20070121-vpod-compression-illness-scott

Seems like Scott Rafer and I should both go and see a dermatologist pretty quickly, doesn’t it?

11 thoughts on “Why I Got Lost in LeWeb3 Videos [en]

  1. I experienced myself the same troubles before I managed to find that damn permalink : poor UI, zero ergonomy, but the curved buttons are so web 3.0 🙂 What a bad implementation for such a nice service. Concerning the skin disease, I thought you were burned at first sight. Glad to read, you’re fine.

  2. Hi there!
    I think what you said about the New Media influencing the Old Media – but not replacing them – was pretty brilliant. I am Swiss – from Zurich – and currently researching for my master thesis in political science at Zurich University about blogs and politics. I was a little proud that there was a cool Swiss person in Paris (I found out about you looking at the program). I might contact you sometime to ask you about your opinion on political blogs.
    Comme j’ai la chance de posséder un abonnement géneral des CFF je pourrais facilement venir à Lausanne.
    All the best for your work!

  3. to defend vpod a little, they do everything for free as a partnership.

    to defend LeWeb3 a bit, remember we provide all the videos for free to everybody, this year they were live and also online in about two weeks, which very very very few conferences do.

    having said that, I agree with you on the perfectible interface. What always strikes me though, is your capacity of criticizing everything. Now that you launch your own conference, you will see how difficult it is to have everything right and read the criticism after it happened !

    however, I always welcome all criticism to progress in the future. Happy XMas and good luck with your conference, pay attention to the details or some bloggers may criticize you 🙂

  4. Hey Loïc 🙂

    I hope you noticed this was about last year’s conf, and not this one. I do agree with you that I have an eye for what is “not working”, and as I mentioned a few days ago I’m aware that everybody is going to be “en train de m’attendre au contour” with my event 😉

    You know, actually, I don’t think it’s easy to get everything right. I think it’s difficult. But it doesn’t prevent me from criticizing things (sometimes harshly, I’ll admit) when they don’t go the way they should.

    And yes, I will pay attention to details. I love details. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Hi to all. My name is Rodrigo Sepulveda, co-founder & CEO of vpod.tv.

    Of couse, these comments relate to last year’s (12 months ago) LeWeb3 conference where we launched in pre-alpha our full-screen interface. Indeed not everything was perfect, and we are about to launch a completely rewritten version of it (both in code and usability). You should like it better, and be better to use.

    Nevertheless, the whole point of this interface is to recreate linear TV on the web, and not to mimick again all the features you usually find on video-sharing sites.

    Just a couple of points :
    – indeed, the PAUSE button is not self explanatory, but works like any other video playing system (Quicktime, VLC…) : just click on the video, or press the space bar to pause / play.

    • the skin disease was due not to high compression but to a faulty implementation of the on2 codec (fir high quality Flash 8/9) on the flash plugin for Mac (it works just fine with the same file on a PC). We had reported this bug many times to both Adobe and on2. It seems they’ve worked it out at last.

    Merry Xmas !

  6. Hi Rodrigo, thanks for stopping by! Glad to know what the skin disease was due to (that’s one thing blogs are good for, you get answers to your questions one day, even if it’s a year later!) and that it’s fixed. I hope this post didn’t reflect negatively on your work this year (that’s what we get for having a conference called LeWeb3 two years in a row, I guess) — I honestly haven’t looked at the videos yet, and I’m sure you’ve evolved in a year, anyway.

  7. What a picture! Aside from that no need to smash that much Leweb3.

  8. Joaquin: this was last year’s edition — were you there? And if you note, this is about the videos, not the conference.

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