Smashing Magazine

Vitaly Friedman

Vitaly Friedman is the co-founder and creative lead of Smashing Magazine, a popular online publication for web designers and developers. He is also a UX consultant for the European Parliament. Friedman is an expert in design patterns and UX strategies, and is known for his insights on designing better user experiences around subtitles and closed captioning. In his talks and writings, he often challenges and surprises his audience with new ideas and approaches to these topics.

UX Salon Words

Subtitles UX

When we think about closed captioning, we often think about noisy environments, be it busy restaurants, shopping malls or airport lounges. There, consuming content via audio is difficult, and so captions help communicate information in an alternative, textual way. This is of course useful for video streaming like Netflix or Hulu, but also for games, video courses, social media content and real-time communication on Zoom, Google Meet etc. with automated captioning turned on.

In fact, these days many people turn on closed captioning by default. But too often it’s nothing more than auto-generated plain text that’s difficult to read and almost impossible to follow. With captions, we can embed a lot of details that are somehow lost between the lines when translated from audio to text — be it sarcasm, music information, synthetic voice, background noise or unexpected interruptions. This requires some design work, and some UX work.

In this talk, Vitaly Friedman, the creative lead of Smashing Magazine and a UX consultant for European Parliament, will highlight some design patterns and UX strategies for designing better UX around subtitles and closed captioning. As it turns out, there is quite a bit you can do with something as seemingly simple as subtitles, so get ready to be challenged and surprised.