Monthly Archives: May 2007

Getting Joost

So I just started playing around with Joost today. (Thanks Michael for the invite!) and I think the best way to describe the initial experience is simply a wow! As soon as I had installed the software, it basically took over my computer (in a good way), sort of like when you’ve been sitting in a bleakly lit movie theater before the movie starts and then the lights go down, and the screen goes black and for a moment you’re 12 again, and about to watch Star Wars for the first time.

Maybe my favorite thing about Joost is how nicely I was transitioned into this radically different desktop experience. All the buttons and ui elements feel smooth and friendly without feeling like you’re playing a children’s game or whatever. And more importantly, I didn’t really have to do much to start watching TV shows. I think it would have been really easy for the ui designers to default to asking the user to first make a selection in terms of what they wanted to see, but Joost was really smart about this, I think, in that they seemed to realize that, because this is a completely new experience for most users, what they watch at the outset is far less important than that they are watching something. I actually wasn’t even sure what the first show I watched was (Adult Swim? Some Comedy Central show?), but I didn’t care. It was fun just toying around with the app. Unfortunately, after a few minutes of that, my Joost honeymoon was over. I wanted to actually find something specific and that’s when the experience became not quite so sublime (remember, though, Joost is still in invitation-only beta mode, so the issues I’m raising are in no way a critique of the joost ux.)

My biggest complaint with the current beta is that it isn’t clear how to get out of stuff that you get into. For example, here is the default view of when you hover your mouse along the edge of the screen to display the Joost main controls…

Default view of Joost controls

If I click on the My Joost button, all kinds of windows and widgets slide onto the screen….

Joost Options

The first thing I wanted to be able to do when all that happened was to make it all go away. I would have expected that function to be nearby where the My Joost button I clicked on would be, but after hunting around on the screen for a while, I discovered that the close button was some icon that I guess sort of looks like a close button, but the problem is that that this button was already present before I clicked on the My Joost button, and there just is no clear relationship between these two elements, in terms of proximity or otherwise.

Anyway, enough complaints for now. One really cool feature of Joost, which shows that the designers of the tool really care about their work, is the little effect that is played when you exit Joost – the screen collapses into a tiny white dot on the center of the screen, which then slowly fades to black, sort of like the old tube televisions used to do.

Bottom line is that Joost rocks, and my only real concern is how addictive it is, and how I’m going to be able to get any work done when the real thing launches…