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?