Netflix

Please tell us about your interaction design innovation and how it’s improved the successfulness of a product, service, experience, etc.: 

Around the world Netflix members stream a lot of shows and movies onto their televisions, through a Smart TV app or through TV-connected devices such as game consoles, set-top boxes, and Blu-ray players. In fact, the majority of the more than one billion hours our members watch each month is done on a TV.

Our recently updated TV experience is the biggest update in our history, bringing rich features to platforms such as Roku, Smart TV and Blu-ray players as well as PlayStation and Xbox 360. We set out to deliver an update that would make it even easier to discover something great to watch and we think we succeeded.

What makes it a great and ground-breaking UX: After starting Netflix, you’ll immediately notice the cinematic and rich visual experience. As you navigate, three large images for each show and movie provide much more context about a title. We also added a shorter, more descriptive synopsis as well as personalized information to provide more detail about why you should watch a specific title. This personalized information can be based on your social network, viewing history or taste preferences.

As you look at the details of a particular title, you’ll see a broader synopsis and more detail on the cast. For TV shows we have added a refined episode selector that uses images for each episode along with a synopsis. Searching for something specific? Search is now much more visual, designed for use on TV screens and providing results for titles as well as for actors and directors. Our popular section for kids also has the new design. The kids area also uses a subtle blue background and subtle “kids” label so parents see from a distance that kids are using the appropriate part of Netflix. Performance is king. With this update, the Netflix experience is even faster with rich, smooth animations and transitions throughout. A few other notable aspects of this major TV experience update: Support for Netflix Profiles across all devices Support for voice on Xbox 360 Support for pointer-based navigation on Smart TVs A redesign of post-play, the feature that automatically starts the next episode of a TV show or shows recommendations after watching a movie.

Recent news articles detailing the design advancements and consumer benefits: http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/13/5098224/netflix-introduces-one-unifie...
http://gigaom.com/2014/02/24/a-look-behind-the-curtain-how-netflix-redes...

What can others learn from how you identified the need for and created your innovative interaction design?: 

At Netflix, we continually innovate and push boundaries to further serve and delight our subscribers. We never rest on our laurels, and we are always evolving our experiences to stay far ahead of our competition. The new Netflix TV experience came about by exploring the answers to 3 core questions: 1.) We believe our personalization is core to our experiences and business, so how can we express the power of our personalized recommendations more effectively? 2.) How can we present the breadth and depth of our content offerings in a richer, more engaging way? 3.) How can the limitations of TV remote control navigation (left-up-right-down-OK) be maximized and transformed into a fluid experience? By tightly aligning with our business needs and strategy, going through multiple cycles of conceptualizing, prototyping, extensive usability testing and A/B testing, and design and engineering collaborating very closely to build and optimize, we were able to create a highly expressive, cinematic, and well-performing experience that is like no other on TV.

Please describe how the concept for your interaction design came about, what research, information, inspiration, etc. informed it.: 

The idea came from questioning how Netflix can tell a better story about why users should watch any particular movie or TV show, and how we can better express the power of our personalized recommendations. In exploring the basic concept, we landed on a more cinematic direction, utilizing the language and visuals of movies to more powerfully present our content and personalization. We created many prototypes, put them in front of usability participants to get feedback, and built and deployed multiple experiences to test with actual subscribers. From all this, we learned the optimal balance of overall content catalog visibility vs. preview of any single title, the most effective images for highlighting titles, which kinds of synopses and supporting metadata evidence work best, and many other findings; all which allowed us to triangulate on the right balance of all elements to create the best experience. In short, we believe we’ve been successful over the years in surfacing the most relevant titles for any individual - effectively telling you ‘what to watch’. But with our new TV experience we successfully tackled the challenge of telling you ‘why you should watch’ any particular piece of content that we are recommending to you, primarily through more visual storytelling and by creating more emotional connections to the content in our discovery experience.

How does your interaction design address unique user interaction challenges created by the confluence of specific user needs, product requirements, platform capabilities/constraints, etc.?: 

Through years of A/B testing data, we have accrued rich learnings and a deep understanding about our subscribers. Coupled with our desire to create a more consistent experience across multiple TV devices, we encapsulated all our learnings of what’s best for our users into a cohesive UX that scales across a large range of device classes. Design and engineering worked collaboratively to build the new Netflix TV experience. Designers were involved in defining platform requirements, engineers made designs better by creatively solving technical challenges, and all involved were laser-focused on creating the best experience possible for Netflix members. The new Netflix TV experience is unique in how it achieves a balance in strategy, design, engineering, and performance to deliver the best TV UX we have ever created.

How has your interaction design affected user behaviors and the overall successfulness of the product or solution?: 

The new Netflix TV experience has been highly successful and well-received by both the media/reviewers and more importantly by our members. We are able to scale to more TV devices as a result of the thought and engineering put into the design. We have also seen improvements in the metrics that are core to our business. Specifically, we see an increase in the hours of viewing with our new TV experience, and also improvements in overall member retention of our subscription-based business. Through our visually rich presentation and greater expression of our personalization, we’ve also significantly improved the perception of our TV experience and Netflix as a service.

How might your interaction design serve as the inspiration or starting point for future innovations in interaction design?: 

Every so often we find a new paradigm so ripe with possibilities to riff off of and this new Netflix TV experience is one of them. More importantly embracing a rich immersive UX is a change that will instruct our thoughts on every other device as well.

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