What Online Businesses Can Learn from the Hulu Plus Upgrade

Hulu, the online streaming video service, has just announced a snazzy new upgrade to go along with Microsoft’s newest operating system, Windows 8. Since I like Hulu, I thought I’d use their new design to point out some trends that online businesses can use to elevate their own branded properties.

It’s all about the grid

These days, website design is all about rows of graphical boxes that fit together like an old fashioned slider puzzle. We see it on Pinterest, the new MySpace, StumbleUpon and Facebook.

The new Windows 8 interface is all about the grid, using colorful boxes and graphics as navigational tools. Want to watch Family Guy on Hulu – click the box. No more tiny icons or long lists of links. This option works best with tablets and other touch screen technology, but the main point is that the grid is in.

Could your website do with a grid make-over? If your product is very visual, this kind of webpage is very enticing to customers.

Scrolling replaces “below the fold”

To go along with the touchscreen concept, many sites are using side scrolling instead of vertical scrolling. This means there’s no longer any information “below the fold” which is a good thing. But has anyone done a study yet on “beyond the edge?” Will people side scroll to see more information? They’ll do it on a tablet, but will they do it on the web?

On a standard website, I wouldn’t even consider putting in a side-scrolling option, but there’s still a lesson to be learned here. Everything a customer needs to know should be evident when they hit your site. If customers have to scroll to find out what you’re all about, you’ve lost them. Front and center does the trick.

Pinning is king

We’ve been pinning important things for several generations. Pin to a bulletin board. Pinned to the fridge. Post-it Notes are basically pins. Virtually, we pin things to our desktops and to sites like Pinterest. Now Hulu is making their shows pinable through the new Windows 8 system.

When you bring up a show you like, you click the pin option and it leaves a bookmark on your computer that you can use to launch the show instantly. When new episodes arrive, the pin will let you know so you can watch right away.

The lesson here is that we’re all lazy. If you put something right in front of us, we’ll click it. I don’t need to see the stats to know that it’s true. Allowing people to pin their favorite shows to their desktop will increase views on that show. Make it easy and customers will follow through. This could mean sending reminder messages when a customer is due to run out of whatever consumable they bought. Or creating packages of items that go together so they can buy it all with one click.

The fewer the steps between the customer and the sale, the better off you’ll be.

Everyone multitasks

The new Hulu Plus comes with a button that throws your video into a side window so you can use your main window to do other things while you watch. Blog, shop, check in on Facebook, without having to resize and stack windows by hand.

Multitasking is a terrible thing but we all do it. Especially now that we have smartphones and tablets. Second screen apps allow TV viewers to watch a show while they play games or socialize with fans. How can you use this idea for your business? I’d like to see tutorial videos that allow me to follow the instructions and manipulate an app at the same time.

Out with the old

If you haven’t updated your website in the past three years, then it’s time for a fresh new look. Mobile computing is changing the way we access and process digital information. Hand motions are slowly taking over for mouse clicks and graphics have supplanted text as the preferred method of engagement.

Yes, I know change is scary but a new, modern approach could give your online business a desirable lift.