Netflix mailers over the years Jason 22 Apr 2006

12 comments Latest by kel1

A really interesting look into the 5-year progression of the Netflix mailer. I love the practical design decisions, the trial and error experimentation, the minor details (like a little hole to keep the packages from inflating on airplanes) that make a big difference. Neat stuff. [via DF]

12 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Stephen McKenna 22 Apr 06

I saw this Netflix mailer progression yesterday and I totally knew that you were going to make a post about it. Packaging has some interesting design challenges. It would also be interesting to see how much Netflix’s envelopes have effected the designs of their competitors.

Rob L. 22 Apr 06

I’ve often wondered if there’s something with the inner liner of Netflix’s envelopes that mess with the DVDs. Discs that we rent from a store almost never have skipping problems, but over half the DVDs we get from Netflix skip terribly — even without visible scratches; it’s weird. (Washing with dishsoap or just scrubbing the disc with a smooth, dry dustrag sometimes helps, if you’ve experienced the same problem).

It may well just be the fact that the discs are well-traveled and get knocked around in the mail, of course.

B 22 Apr 06

I don’t fully understand the top loading vs. side loading - is that actually a debate? Is it really more “convenient”?

will 23 Apr 06

mathew, that’s a great idea. I don’t think it needs to be automated but capturing why you do what you do and storing for the next time is a great idea.

I worked many years of food service and retail before I started wrapping words in silly brackets and whining about photoshop’s lack of style support. The good managers always kept a little journal of what went on that day. big crowds, shitty sales, obscure holiday… then they’d look at it next year to make business decisions. No ‘analytics’, just a friggin notebook reminding them of what and why.

I also would love to see more of the ‘annotated design decisions’ around the interwebs. Better than survivor.

Will

RS 23 Apr 06

Im sure there is already a solution out there for this problem - automated screengrabs with some kind of commentary attached, perhaps.

We use Campfire for this. There is a room for each app we’re developing. We take screenshots and upload them to the room whenever we feel inspired to do so. That way all our screenshots are automatically saved on a timeline.

This method has already produced a very interesting history of the Backpack calendar. We look forward to sharing.

Josh 23 Apr 06


I like that netflix never leaves well enough alone and keeps going back to the drawing board. Can you imagine in most companies saying your going back to the drawing board again. Balsy to even ask in some corporate cultures. Kudos

“Im sure there is already a solution out there for this problem - automated screengrabs with some kind of commentary attached, perhaps.”

Check out conceptshare, they nailed this. Saw a demo in TO. They manage all your screens and allow onscreen commenting and drawing on the image over the web. Was the craziest thing ever.

Mathew Patterson 23 Apr 06

We use Campfire for this. There is a room for each app were developing. We take screenshots and upload them to the room whenever we feel inspired to do so. That way all our screenshots are automatically saved on a timeline.

I like it. The easier it is to do, the more likely it is to be done. I’ve started to do it in the past but it became too much hassle to add a new screenshot. Maybe I’ll give it a try again.

Jeff Coleman 24 Apr 06

Has anyone noticed the new Ajax trickery Netfilx does when you add an item to your queue? It pauses, fades the page and adds another layered page on top of it with info about the movie.

Normally I find Netflix extremely usable but this is just annoying—something as major as adding an item to your queue should just load a new page, the old behavior was just fine.

Peter Darling 25 Apr 06

The Idea Fairy just visited. I could not care less about packaging. But how about NetFlix 2.0?

One of Netflix’s huge challenges is the awesome logistics of millions of people sending mailers back and forth to warehouses. I have actually studied and sort of modeled this issue, and logistics is pretty much their central challenge.

Suppose you switched gears, and used a community model for Netflix. In return for a reduced subscription cost, instead of mailing DVDs back to the warehouse, you instead agreed to just mail them directly to the next person in your region who requested the movie? Instead of a hub-and-spoke model, you’d use a real network model.

There are all kinds of issues that this brings up, but none of them seem insurmountable. However, by eliminating the hub-and-spoke thing, Netflix could drastically reduce the number of DVDs they’d need in inventory, which is a big deal. One of the big issues they have is that with a hot new title, they need tens of thousands of copies, and a few months later, when the movie has cooled off, they need 10% of that number. The rest are redundant.

So far, the whole Web 2.0 thing has been about information. Sooner or later, it’s going to graduate to actual objects. Maybe this is where.

kel1 28 Apr 06

I have been using Netflix since 2000, so it was interesting to see some of the old envelopes again. For me, the greatest improvment has been Netflix setting up warehouses closer to their destinations. I live in Chicago and when I first joined the dvds were sent from San Jose, CA. Now I usually receive them the day after they have been sent.

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