Designing a social feature to Netflix Apps & Website.

In a context of high pressure from competitors, Netflix, number one subscription-based streaming service, is looking to improve its customer engagement and increase users retention while growing mobile app adoption. In order to fulfil this goal I have been asked to work on the design of a new social feature to Netflix apps and website.

Please note that this is a fictional project created to practice UX design as part of Design Lab.

My mission

Design a social feature for Netflix in order to improve user retention and engagement.

ROLES

timeline

what i did ?

Design tool

UX Researcher
UX/UI Designer

4 weeks (80h)

Apps feature
Website feature

Adobe XD

Design Process

Research
Define
Ideate
Design
Test

Research

01/05

In order to understand how this feature should be integrated to existing design, to fit both users expectation and business goals, I have made multiples research.

I started by interviewing current Netflix users to understand how they are interacting with the service and with friends and family about Netflix content. The aim is to understand how a social feature could help them in this process but also to spot the limit of such feature to avoid any backfire.
It's clear that current browsing and sharing about Netflix content are frustrating. If users shows interest for a social features, I could also identify clear needs, such as Privacy (decide with who and what to share), Consistency (Netflix main use shouldn't be disturbed), Integration (This feature should be well integrated to existing UI).

I decided then to look for how competitors are currently handling such social integration within their services. And it was interesting to see that none of them already integrated such feature. Disney + is working on Social Watching and Apple integrated (system wide) Share Play. Both features are focused on watching the same content with other users but none really worked on content sharing.

In 2004, Netflix members could get movies ideas from friends using the new "Friends" social feature. However this feature has been shutdown few years later due to the lack of users engagement. The main reason was that users didn't want to share all their watching data with everyone.

Spotify has recently scaled up their social integration by launching multiple social features that succeed reaching targets. The main differences are that these features are slowly integrated and users always have the choice to go for it or to continue using the service without being disturbed by any social inconveniences.

These highlights allow me to understand more about what users are expecting from such features and especially what mistake to avoid in order to prevent the same result as 2004.

Define

02/05

From this research I have built 3 personas in order to have a clear idea of who Netflix users are and how they would behave with the features.

Who am I designing for ?

Louis, Competitive watcher.

25 - Web Developer - Paris, France.

👍 Loves to share with his best friend about his Netflix favs and like to compare his progress with him.

👎 Hates to get spoiled and would like to have more options to send enrcihed content.

❤️ Best Netflix content: The Bling Ring and Narcos.

Nola, Netflix Adventurer.

31 - Marketing Manager- Chicago, IL, USA.

👍 Likes to discover new content and share about it with selected friends.

👎 Often struggle to find previously shared content from her friends, and hate to be spoiled when her friends share any content.

❤️ Best Netflix content: Uncut Gems and Better Call Saul.

Seong-Sung, Family watcher.

74 - Retired Doctor- Busan, South-Korea.

👍 Loves to get recommendations from his children about what to watch with his wife.

👎 Often frustrated to loose trace of his handwritten notes full of Netflix series and movies titles.

❤️ Best Netflix content: Roma and Mr. Sunshine.

What do they have in mind ?

Let's dive into their surroundings to understand what they have in mind and focus on their needs as much as possible.

What is the solution ?

In order to fulfill this mission while answering users needs and fears, I have decided to design a  social feature allowing users to interact with friends about Netflix's content as follow

Create and manage collaborative watchlists (Shared List) to share Netflix's content with friends and family.

Share series and movies' progress with Shared Lists' members.

What are the limits ?

Any social feature should have some limits, to keep the service consistency and to reassure users.

An important point to discuss now is devices.
How this feature will be used depending on devices, and what to design on each devices ?
If all users are using their mobile to share content (any form), they mostly watch Netflix only using their TV or Desktop.

Smart TV

Desktop (web)

Mobile (app)

Shared Lists

View

Create / Manage / View

Create / Manage / View

My Progress

View

View / Settings

View / Settings

Ideate

03/05

Users Flows & Sitemap

Now that I have a clear vision of what this product should offer to users, it was time to dig more in detail on how to translate these data into workable design patterns.

I first decided to outline multiple flows predicting users paths when using the feature, in order to complete multiple tasks.

See User Flows

Low & Mid Fidelity Wireframes & Testing

Before proceeding to Sketches, I have studying current Netflix UI and design patterns, in order to design a feature with an accurate integration to existing UI. No doubt that for an in-house project, access to existing UI Kit, would be very helpful.

Design

04/05

UI Design

Available on multiples devices with interaction fitting users' expectations.

Create a new Shared List

An easy process to create a new Shared List, choose a name, add content from the previously watched and invite friends to join. This interaction highlight 2 important points of this feature design:
- Users will not have to create a new account neither to choose a nickname, adding friends to Shared List, will works using an invitation process. It's also help to prevent any confusing from the fact that multiple profiles can be used under one and same account.
- Users doesn't want to have an additional chat system. To share the invitation, they will be prompt to use their existing message app or services.

Manage Shared List

Any users will be able to manage the Shared List they are part of but only the users who created the Shared List will be able to remove members and invite new users to join.

Show Progress with friends

Users can choose to share their progress with Shared List's members. To respect users' privacy and because research showed that public sharing of content such as series or movies are users most terrifying nightmare, only Shared Lists members will be able to see progress for the content listed.

Add any title to any Shared List

From any devices, users can add any series or movies in an existing or new Shared List, other members will be notified with Netflix in app/website push notification.

Teach Users

In order to teach users about this new social feature, an informative banner inviting users to create their first Shared List would be displayed on the home page and in the notification section of the app. This banner would disappear once user create his first Shared List or after a certain period of time.

Seen on TV !

As most of users watch Netflix content on a Smart TV, they would be able to access Shared List, but also to add content to any existing Shared List. In order to create a new Shared List, they would have to use their Phone, tablet or Computer. This limitation is due to device limit (no message app on Smart TV), but also to increase app adoption.

Test

05/05

In order to confirm that this solution correctly answer the problem, testing is an important step. It will allow me to identify wins and pains points and improve the next iteration of this design.
This test have been proceed only with Netflix current users.
After a brief description of the feature, they have been asked to complete multiple task out loud.

 

Findings

All users were able to complete all tasks without major issues. They also all agreed that this feature integration within existing Netflix's UI was accurate and easy to understand. They all showed interest for this feature and understood how their choice and privacy would be respected. However, they all encounter some minor issues:

Priority Revisions

Improve Shared List creation process to avoid confusion and frustration.

Improve content adding to Shared List process. Give more information to users on Shared List' members to reduce the error risk.

Improve Shared List settings labels. Icon will now show current status. But I also think  this subject should require more testing to find the best solution.

Improve My Progress section visibility.
In order to bring more information to users without modifying content hierarchy, I have decided, after multiple versions and A/B testing, to keep the simple text line while allowing users to access additional information with a "more" button. The challenge here was to listen users who had interest in this new feature without denaturing and disturbing others users. Keeping the vanilla experience was an important point of this project.

I added a hide button to allow users to hide this banner on desktop.

What Next ?

As usability test results were not cleaving enough, additional test would help to evaluate iteration usability success. In multiple cases AB testing would have helped to compare between design solutions such as icons and settings labels.

The way Shared List have been designed could allow to test additional social features, such as group watching for Netflix's content. As we could see and in order to secure users adoption, these new features should be well integrated in current UI without disturbing the vanilla user experience.

Reflections

While working on this project I had a whole set of assumptions and bias on how users would want to use this feature and how it would be a great add-on to Netflix. However, if I was surprised by my research and interview results, that helped me lot to design this feature. There is one criteria I didn't expect to play a major role: users' education in term of devices habits and OS. I have been quite surprised that, during the usability testing phase, some flows failed because of how users are used to interpret icons. If for macOS users, looking for additional settings clicking on a "i" icon make sense, it is totally different for a Windows user's point of view. The power of companies like Netflix are in their ability to offer different versions of their app, region based of course, but also taking additional criteria into consideration (such as devices used to connect to netflix.com) in order to customise user experience.

The major frustration for me in that project was not to be able to do more testing. As explained above, because all users are different, I would have loved to push testing further to see what version could get the best usability score. I know that designers can't satisfy all users but I think that all products should constantly evolve and try new options/visions to get closer to the perfect user experience.

Want to know more about this project ?