I hate Netflix’s search field.

I hate Netflix’s search field. I hate that it’s small and doesn’t look anything like a text entry field or a clickable button; it’s not immediately clear what one needs to do to interact with it. So you click the general area where the word Search is (at least there’s a hover state), it expands to reveal the text entry field, which, fortunately, is already where your cursor is, you can type what you’re looking for, and your results display automatically, without actually having to click a “Search” button or the magnifying glass (which, somewhat weirdly, is to the left of where you’re typing). Interestingly, while this whole process seems really overwrought, this is actually fewer clicks/steps than one uses for a traditional search field — since for most sites you have to click in the search field before you can start typing, and then either press enter or click a “Search” button to actually perform your search — but I find the Netflix configuation infinitely more annoying. Why hide or partially hide the search before it’s usable? Why make it look less like a search?

Here’s a screenshot, showing what the search looks like before it’s clicked and after it’s clicked and you start typing.

netflix-search

This is exactly the kind of thing that happens because a designer thinks it’s cool and no one bothers to consider the user at all. Will this search configuration prevent people from finding what they want on Netflix? Probably not. Will it make it easier? Absolutely not. Was it a decision made in the interest of helping the user? Definitely not.

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