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Hulu's Updated Mobile App Sucks, and It's a Good Reminder for Us All The streaming service decided to prioritize flashiness above usability.

By Stephen J. Bronner Edited by Dan Bova


Hulu, the streaming service that recently launched a live TV initiative, updated its mobile app this week. But instead of thinking of all the content I could be watching on it, such as the exclusive The Handmaid's Tale, I'm stuck on one thought: endless scrolling.

You see, the designers at Hulu have apparently decided that they'd rather present users with a flashy, colorful app instead of one that prioritizes usability. In the new app, there's no way to discern what episode is newest or what I've already watched -- everything is just presented in a long list you must now manually scroll through.

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Don't take my word on it. I ironically scrolled through the app's rating on Google Play and found many users rating the newest update one or two stars. Here's a sampling:

"Since the new update the app has been incredibly time consuming to use. I need to click the show, the information then I can finally access episodes," writes Melissa Mok. "I also don't like that the last watched show is no longer on the front page when I need it -- I don't want to watch a suggested show. I'm going to avoid upgrading on iOS for as long as humanly possible so at least I have one useable mobile device with Hulu. What am I paying for at this point if it takes me extra time to find my shows?"

Nm Froggie writes: "So this used to be a great app. I have had Hulu for years and never really had any issue. A few days ago they updated the app and now it just sucks. Where before it was simple, easy and you could see everything easily, now it's just a big mess."

This one, from Chrissy West, captures my own feelings pretty well: "The update is cumbersome, inefficient and so time consuming, that I thought about cancelling Hulu altogether. I have no idea which shows on the watch list have new episodes, some of the show pages run in order from top to bottom and some from bottom to top. I am unable to view any specific info for individual episodes. I am unable to easily add or remove anything to my watch list and I am so disgusted that who ever created the update cared more about the appearance of the app than the actual functionality."

Finally, a nightmare scenario for any business: "I cancelled because the new format is not user friendly. Give me the option to go back or I'm not," writes Sara Lorance.

While I don't know Hulu's motivations for updating the app (the company declined to comment at this time), one thing is clear: people were fine with older versions and now they're unhappy.

Related: 10 Steps to Creating an Engaging Digital Experience

The lesson here is clear: You can have the best content, but if you provide your users with a frustrating experience, they won't care. It's on you and your team to always think of customers first, not play catch up or satisfy some other need.

Maybe I'll just go check what's on Netflix.

Stephen J. Bronner

Entrepreneur Staff

News Director

Stephen J. Bronner writes mostly about packaged foods. His weekly column is The Digest. He is very much on top of his email.

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