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ReelSurfer: Timeline zoom, integrated video search (reelsurfer.com)
18 points by cyang08 1576 days ago | hide | past | web | 6 comments | favorite



Since someone from the company asked for feedback, I took a (admittedly brief) look at the service and here are my thoughts:

1) Too many little inline "popups" when trying to view a video. I click to view a video on your page and there's a high-contrast little bubble that says "neil thinks this is the best part of a video." Who is this "neil" guy to me? And why do I care? And why do I have to click the close button to get the distracting message off the screen so I can watch what I came to do -- watch videos.

To make this worse, clicking close then immediately fires up another inline popup that says "Cool, huh? Try making a highlight of your own.". So I now have 2 "Close" buttons to click that remind of the old days before popup blockers where you had to speed-close numerous pop windows before seeing the site.

2) No easy way to see the original URL of the video playing. I get that you want to hide it so people stay within your website but a link to the original source you're embedding that I can goto or copy and paste would be nice.

3) Embed a reelsurfer video and there is an overlay (not even transparentt) that stays above the video saying "Created using reelsurfer". Again, there is a little X/Close I have to hit to watch the video without something distracting from/covering up the video.

I understand you're trying to make people stay within your site and maybe even create their own clip but by focusing so hard on 'capturing' users you're annoying people who simply came to watch a video someone sent them.


Thanks for the feedback! You raise some very valid points that we actually went back and forth on a bit during the design process.

1) Regarding the inline popups, the overall goal was to educate first time users on how the site works (that ReelSurfer lets you cut highlights out of any video on the web). I agree that they are a little obtrusive though. Are you more opposed to the contents/frequency of those particular popups, vs popups in general, or both? We considered some other options like a help button or progressive UI disclosure - do you have a preferred means of surfacing this kind of info? Hopefully a small consolation now is that once dismissed, you should no longer see the popups on your next visit.

2) Regarding original URLs, that is a great idea. Currently there is one way to get to the original video - the "See More" button that displays on hover will take you to the original video's page (in this case, YouTube). We'll try to make it a little more prominent, or perhaps even add a link to the metadata below the player.

3) Regarding the branding strip for embeds, totally makes sense and you hit the nail on the head about wanting to capture users. It's definitely a challenging problem for us as we want to balance demonstrating the additional value of ReelSurfer (which is that you can cut and watch highlights + mashups from all videos across the web, not just YouTube) without getting super annoying. In this particular scenario, if the branding strip only appeared on hover (and disappeared during playback), would that be a better/tolerable experience?

Thanks again!


I think the general goal with the inline is a good one as it does try to get the user to be more engaged.

However, I think the issue is they need to be presented in a way that is less obstrusive to a user that came to simply watch a video in peace.

One quick and easy thing that could be done is making the popups blend with the page a bit more. Right now the main site is dark background and light text and then suddenly there is a box with a jarringly white background with a generic blue button that really doesn't mesh with the rest of the site at all glaring at you.

Also, having multiple popups back to back is almost insulting to your users. If they take the effort to dismiss the first popup, the last thing they want immediately after it is another popup. I was almost afraid to hit the close button on the 2nd (create a clip) popup because I thought another one would popup somewhere else on the page. If I clicked on some kind of "Tour" button, it would be acceptable to point out all the social features of the site or where to goto create a clip and such. If I came to a video page to view a video, the video should be the focus.

Another mistake I think is the "neil thinks this is the best part..." popup. I understand there is a sense of community and social features to the site but so do 90% of the sites users go to these days. A better way may be to present related videos or other videos "neil" has created that add value to the user instead of forcing the focus to be "hey this is neil's video guys!".

Another thing you could try doing is moving the 2nd popup that asks you to make a clip appear a bit later. Maybe a minute after the video starts playing or even better, at the end of the playback of the video when the visitor has completed what the visitor initially came to the page for. The nice thing about this is that by the time the 2nd popup appears, the user has had a chance to soak in the site's layout and content and see why 'making small clips from long videos' can be a good thing.

The branding strip is nice but it blocks a part of the video. Making it translucent (60%-75% transparent) would make it a little less annoying as I can still partially see the video as opposed to completely blocking the top part of the video as it does now. And having it as "hover" based action may be good too. That way when the user moves the mouse over to start playback or pause or stop the video, the bar will appear. It should also fade out after the video has been playing for a few seconds.


Whenever I see an interesting blog post like this, I usually end up discovering a new website that I want to check out.

However, finding a clickable link to the main website for the blog is ridiculously hard.

Since the blog is primarily intended to support the main website (instead of standalone blogs), why not have a prominent link at the top for the website? Or even make the header link to the main website?

i.e. instead of linking to blog.<company>.com, please link to www.<company>.com. Having to manually edit the URL to remote the "blog." is tedious and pointless.


Great point, definitely an oversight on our part. We just added a link to the main http://reelsurfer.com site to the top-level horizontal nav. Thanks!


Hi everyone! Christian from ReelSurfer here. Would love to hear your feedback on the latest set of updates, along with any ideas or questions you might have!




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