Timeline: 4 months
Role: Digital Product Designer
Problem: Frustrations over movie deliberation time.
Solution: A new feature that allows for personalized suggestions and joint viewing through shared lists.
Netflix’s social media strategy is highly engaging, creative, and consumer-centric. Their content allures audiences across different social media platforms. From Instagram reels to TikTok edits, and an array of content from Twitter. But why hasn’t Netflix taken the leap to make the app itself more social?
In 2016 Netflix introduced Flixtapes — a website that you could use to curate a list of movies or tv shows that you could share with friends. But the feature was quickly taken down and many don’t even remember its existence, probably because nobody used it due to its inaccessibility.
During the pandemic, it became increasingly difficult to socialize due to pandemic fatigue and the sudden change in our daily routines. My friends and I could no longer talk about our daily activities because there weren’t any. Everyday was the same. A way for us to stay connected was through Netflix. We would watch shows together through Netflix Party or just keep each other updated on shows we were currently watching.
These movie nights suddenly became a new way to socialize over the internet and it allowed us to stay connected during the height of the pandemic.
However, there are thousands of shows on Netflix, making it difficult to decide what to watch. I always spent too much time browsing through suggestions that I felt like I was wasting time. I wanted to see if other people felt the same way, so I conducted a few interviews and surveys with people aged 18–50 and these are my findings:
- Users allocate an amount of time they spend on Netflix.
“I think that it takes too long for me to pick something to watch. So sometimes I get tired of picking and decide not to watch at all.”
2. Users are overwhelmed by the number of suggestions but underwhelmed by the suggestions.
“There are so many suggestions, they aren’t bad but they could be better because I occasionally see the same shows suggested multiple times.”
3. Users want to watch something interesting and relevant.
I like watching friends’ recommendations, and sometimes I add them to my watchlist. But sometimes I rely on the fact that I can easily find it again in the suggested shows that Netflix shows me.
And from these findings I devised a people problem:
When I open Netflix, I want to quickly find something relevant and interesting to watch, so I can relax, de-stress and bond over movies/shows with my friends, but I can’t do that well because:
- It takes too long for me to decide on a movie, so sometimes I end up not watching anything.
- I want to watch everything, so I keep adding things to my watchlist which makes it even more difficult to decide.
- Netflix keeps suggesting the same things or the same genre and it can get boring.
A new feature that allows for personalized suggestions and joint viewing through shared lists.
How did I get there?
I addressed my people problem through a brainstorming session with my friends Huong and Jenny.
And after a vote, we were left with 5 solutions:
- Display “My List” at the top of the homepage
- Minimize scroll and use a change page button to make it more difficult for users to scroll aimlessly
- Improve suggestions by bringing back the 1–5 rating scale
- Incorporate a “mood view” by asking users to take a quiz upon entering Netflix. Could also include statistics framed towards quiz results (“50% of viewers watched this when they were feeling ____”).
- Make Netflix more social by incorporating shared lists and joint viewing
I then analyzed the feasibility and impact of the five solutions.
Then I conducted a SWOT analysis for the top three features
Making Netflix more social had the highest impact and the most opportunities, so I decided to continue working on this feature because it best tackles the people problem by:
- Reducing movie deliberation time through personal suggestions
- Organizing lists to make it easier to decide
- Joint viewing allows you to see your friends’ progress. This will ensure that you’re watching a series at the same pace and it can reduce the risk of spoilers because you know how far your friend has watched. Access to your friend’s progress also adds a sense of urgency to your viewing habits. If a friend is ahead, users will try to catch up and consequently, spend less time browsing through Netflix suggestions.
Medium Fidelity Explorations
High Fidelity Flows
After user testing, I learned:
- Users assumed the plus button was to create a new list.
- Users do not use the coming soon or fast laughs feature and they thought that this was a new feature.
- Users were put off by the way a list was presented on the search page. They did not recognize the difference between a list and a film.
Iterations from feedback
Although I’m no longer stuck at home watching Netflix all day, I still use Netflix as a way to connect with my long-distance friends. This new feature will hopefully make it easier to find something to watch on Netflix while gaining the benefit of staying connected.
This was my first UX case study created with guidance from the Introduction to Digital Product Design course staff. Throughout this process, I learned about the importance of designing for users and how “good design should be unnoticeable.”
I am in no way affiliated with Netflix. This was a case study for Cornell University’s Intro to Digital Product Design class. Any feedback or comments would be gladly appreciated!