ESPN Video: A good use of unconventional scrolling techniques

I must give props to ESPN’s pop-up video application (Click “Launch Video Player” link underneath the embedded video on the ESPN homepage). It has two bits of unique user interaction that usually don’t work on the Information Superhighway.

First, it uses horizontal scrolling to find more content. It’s a great way to maximize the amount of information on the page without distracting the user from the main purpose of this tool – to view video. Horizontal scrolling also seems less distracting to the eye when I’m watching the video than vertical scrolling. I can navigate left-to-right and still comprehend what’s going on in the video. I wonder if that’s a universal thing or something cultural. Perhaps it’s because I’m much more accustomed to watching TV as I walk around a room as opposed to jumping on a trampoline.

Second, it uses mouse-gesture-driven scrolling (we do an implementation of that in Chapter 4 of Flash Application Design Solutions). I will be the first to say you should use this kind of scrolling with caution. Depending on how much scrolling occurs and the kinds of acceleration/deceleration being applied to the algorithm, it can be a usability headache. But, it works really well here. I can focus on the video and move my mouse around to general areas rather than finding a small scrollbar which would take my eyes off the video.

So, kudos to ESPN for some pretty innovative uses of traditionally controversial UI design.

ESPN Fantasy Baseball, however, is an entirely different story….