SOLVING NETFLIX'S DISCOVERABILITY PROBLEM


Four of the main streaming platforms.

As new streaming services such as Apple and Disney are entering into battle with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu users are starting to become more discerning as they decided which services to subscribe to. As the war intensifies, what are the frustrations users are facing with existing services and how can we help alleviate them?


My Role

I worked as a solo UX Researcher and Designer during a two-week sprint. I applied a human-centric approach throughout the process.

Sorting through user interview data.


Research & Interviews

Based on desk research and online commentary in forums I formed the following hypothesis:

“Users will need an easy and quick way to find ‘the right’ content on trusted streaming services to avoid wasting time searching for, and not finding, relevant videos.”


I interviewed 9 participants covering aspects such as general behaviours, decision making, content discovery and interface preferences to help understand where users encountered frustrations. After collating and analysing the data 4 findings clearly stood out. They were:

  • Finding the right content quickly was the single biggest problem. Predicting customers as hoc behaviour is still not polished enough and recommendations are often repetitive and disappointing.
  • As I had suspected, word of mouth was the number one way in which users discover new content. Methods included; friends and colleagues giving recommendations or reading about it on social media. To a lesser extent, participants were also influenced by news articles and blogs.
  • Trust in the services, were low down on people’s lists. Things such as targeted marketing, platform recommendations, content images determined based on perceived preferences were appreciated in the journey of discovering new content.
  • Ability to personalise the interface to better serve content they’d be like to watch. Most users were frustrated by platforms pushing ‘their own’ content with recommendations which didn’t apply to them.

Based on these new learnings, it was clear that I needed to revise my hypothesis.

“In order to easily find content which is ‘right’ for them, users will need a way to connect with friends and be able to personalise their experience.”


Personas

To empathise with my users throughout the process, I constructed personas which represented 3 different users, ranging from casual to devoted viewer. I took these into account as I brainstormed ways to implement functionality to remove friction and enhance the overall user experience.

Personas

Feature Prioritisation

Next, I created a list of the features which were mentioned during the interviews. Analysing this data, I concluded that I'd be able to resolve multiple frustrations by focusing on two specific features; getting appropriate recommendations and personalisation of the home page.

Compiled and analysed data.

Wireframing & Testing

Through in-person testing using my low-fidelity wireframes and a prototype I created in InVision it became clear that I needed to ensure that each feature was non-intrusive. Users liked the ‘Hangout’ feature and the ability to personalise the interface as long as it was simple and straightforward to use.

I also discovered that I needed to rethink how to personalise the recommendations already at the time of registration to make the users feel catered to. They also voiced concerns about leaving Netflix to link with external social media accounts.

Lo-fi wireframe

To provide a personalised experience already at first log in the user is encouraged to take a quiz to gather data during sign up. This should allow for the home page to present better targeted content and categories at first exposure to the product.

Quiz during sign up to help determine dashboard content.

A new feature called ‘Hangout’ has been added to the top menu where users can access content which has been compiled based on friend's viewing habits and recommendations. In the ‘Hangout’ area users will also be able to access their friend’s ‘Hangout’ profiles.

Hangout Feature

Users have the ability to send direct recommendations to other users on the Friends list in the ‘Hangout’. This should allow viewers to take immediate action when discovering new content by forwarding it with a message to a friend and, ultimately, decrease time users are searching for content.

Hangout Feature

Using personal codes, users can add each other to the ‘Hangout’. Here users can also manage who’s in their top friends list and remove friends if desired.

Users are able to organise their 'Hangout'.

To accomodate for the highly requested feature, to be able to personalise the home page, I created a facility which would allow for users to rearrange or hide what is visible on the home page.

Through an A/B test with 50 participants, I settled on a simple layout which included drag and drop functionality where users also have the ability to turn on or off visibility of categories that may not interest them.

A/B Testing and final result.

For our persona, Anne Marie, a personalised version of the home page could look as below for her. She has decided what she wants to see on her homepage including specific categories and playlists from her friends.

Result of a personalised dashboard.

Conclusion

With a shrinking catalogue and stiff competition from emerging streaming services the focus need to be on offering a better user experience. The lack of suitable recommendations is the main gripe with users. I believe this is where Netflix and its competitors will need to put their focus. By, as I am suggesting, improving recommendations, integrating social features and allowing the user to personalise their experience, I believe audience retention and contentment with the services will improve vastly.
It is worth noting that this work doesn't take business objectives such as content priorities and promotions or the scale of creating the proposed social 'Hangout' feature into account.

Main Tools

  • Adobe XD
  • Sketch
  • Excel
  • Usabilityhub
  • Overflow