Bad user interface design: CNN faux embedded videos

I used to be a big fan of CNN, and I still read their news via RSS. I was on there today when I came across this item …

CNN faux embedded video

See the big button that invites you to click on it? What do you think it does?
Go ahead … try it.

Yep, it doesn’t instantly start playing. It takes you to another screen, where you have to sit through a commercial to watch your video.
What do you think users are going to do in an era of a million and one embedded video options like … um .. youtube. If they were only kinda-sorta interested in the video … they’ll close out of it immediately and go to something more interesting.

CNN video player section

How should CNN fix this?

  • Offer embeddable video players: I understand CNN wants to keep their content on their servers. However, flash players are easy to build and I am sure there are tons of sites that offer free ones. However if you’re hell bent on building one from scratch, I know an awesome Austin web developer that can build one to match your budget :]
  • Remove the play button from the picture: If the embedded video is not an option go with something that tells the user that they’ll lose their place and be diverted to another page. I understand that the play button invites you to click on the image, but since sites like youtube and dailymotion have changed the significance of a play button over an image, users might be displeased when the video doesn’t immediately start playing. Something like a simple “Watch this video” link under the article might be a better option. In this era of Ajax and fewer pageloads per click a new user to might not be so pleased to sit through a heavy page load, that doesn’t even open in a new tab!

Remember, you want to adhere to the “Don’t make me think” principle whenever possible, and because interface behavior (especially on the web) can change quickly, you have to stay ahead of the curve. Two or three years ago, this would probably have been excellent interface design, because it invited the user to click on the image … not any more.