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Hulu’s redesigning its unintuitive interface

Hulu’s redesigning its unintuitive interface


It’ll now have a sidebar like pretty much every other major streaming app. Good.

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Hulu logo in the middle of a striped background.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Late last week, Hulu started rolling out a redesign for its TV apps, which changes how you navigate through the interface. The previous version (which some people still have) had the search, Home, TV, Movies, News, My Stuff, and Hubs buttons across the top of the screen. Now, those navigational buttons will live on the left.

Hulu’s top-bar design has always stood out from the crowd in a bad way. Even my wife, who isn’t that into tech and doesn’t generally comment on UIs, has complained about it. The problem with the old UI is that, in general, using a streaming app these days involves scrolling up and down through a massive list of content, realizing you don’t want to watch any of it, and then jumping to another section.

Photo of Hulu’s old UI, with the top navigation bar


Hulu’s old UI with the top navigation bar. (With apologies for the TV photos instead of screenshots.)

Unfortunately, Hulu’s categories living at the top of the screen made it seem like you had to scroll back through everything you’d just looked through to do that. You didn’t actually have to, at least not in the Apple TV version of the app that I’ve used; pressing the back button would jump you up to the top. But if you didn’t realize that, it could be frustrating to use. The redesign, however, makes it easy to figure out: scroll to the left (or press the back button), and the menu pops up.

Yes, this redesign does make the Hulu app look more like almost every other streaming app; HBO Max, Netflix, YouTube, and even Disney Plus, which is owned by the same company as Hulu, all use a sidebar design. But sometimes it’s good to have conventions; with the redesign, you won’t have to think about how to navigate when you switch from another streaming app to Hulu.

According to a splash screen alerting users to the upcoming change, the new interface will be rolling out over the next few weeks. According to TechCrunch, it’ll be coming to smart TV interfaces like Android TV, LG smart TVs, Samsung smart TVs, and Vizio SmartCast TVs, as well as streaming boxes like Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast.