Product Strategy #2: Adding a feature to Popular Successful Netflix, Think as you read through!
Add a feature that will allow you to watch something at the same time with your friends and comment and talk with each other as you watch.
A feature that lets you sync your Netflix with a friend, and lets you chat while the movie is going either on desktop or mobile
In the interview, I tried to understand why she feels like this feature is missing and what her main motivations and pain points are. Ines told me about her idea, which I summarized into points below
- She wants to sync and watch movies with one or more people
- She wants to be able to comment on the movie as it plays
- She wants to have a chat on the same interface as the movie
- This chat should be possible to hide
- And finally, she wants to integrate emojis and GIFS
Jobs to be done
Let’s focus on what the customer wants when they use a product and what their goal is. I used Ines as my main user to create this feature and understand her perspective
- When: Watching Netflix
- I want to: Watch with a friend and be able to interact with them
- So that: I can feel like I am with them even though I’m away.
With a clear idea of what Ines wanted I started interviewing people in my house. These were the insight:
This was totally the complete opposite of what I wanted to hear. I could’ve never imagined people would have such a different opinion on the usefulness of this feature.
But maybe, is there a chance they will warm up to it? So I went back and asked the users again how they thought these ideas could be improved.
Which surprisingly resulted in a cool design opportunity. They suggested having the option to have the chat separate from the movie so you could watch on your desktop and chat on your phone.
First things first, let’s look into Netflix. Because who would know more about their customer than them. Did you know they have a whole website dedicated to explaining their research called Netflix research? Neither did I, until 10 seconds ago.
What is Netflix Research?
The idea behind Netflix Research is to apply scientific research to all parts of what they do at Netflix. They use experimentation, A&B testing, recommendations, statistics and machine learning to collect data and use it to push their employees to be rigorous in their thinking, to be curious and always think of what could be the best solution to a problem. What sets them apart as a research company is that any employee can access any type of information at all times without having to request access from someone higher up.
Would you like to hear what I just explained again, BUT in a longer version with music and smiling Americans? Look no further. Just press play.
Who are their users?
- Over 167 million members (December 2019)
- 61 million members in the US
- From 190 different countries (December 2019)
These massive numbers explain why there is no mention of any type of generalization of users on their Netflix research site. Netflix uses a recommendation algorithm to personalize the experience for their users. 80% of what people play on Netflix comes from the recommendation algorithm. Recommendation algorithm takes your personal taste into account, as well as your country and culture.
Because of the time limit of this project, I couldn’t justify spending more than 3 hours on researching Netflix and their users, even though I’m sure I just graced the surface of it looking at the mountain of data Netflix have! Somewhere in that research process they almost convinced me into taking them seriously, but then I remembered that they keep recommending me ‘My little pony 1, 2, and 3’ and I went back to not taking them seriously anymore.
it’s like the power puff girls on acid
Lean UX Canvas
The Lean UX Canvas is used to frame the work as a business problem to solve and then dissect that business problem into its core assumptions. Write down your assumptions and use them to form a hypothesis. Out of all the tools I used I can’t say this generated some useful results, at least not for this project.
Its nearest direct rival is Amazon Prime Video, with an estimated 75 million subscribers, which is less than 50% of the Netflix figure.
Netflix is comfortably in the lead at the moment, with over 50% more subscribers than nearest rival, Qiyi ( which not a direct rival since Netflix is not available in China).
Although Amazon and Hulu have much fewer subscribers, they are actually growing at a faster rate than Netflix.
Its nearest direct rival is Amazon Prime Video, with an estimated 75 million subscribers, which is less than 50% of the Netflix figure. I think it’s safe to say Netflix rules the throne at the moment. A possible future rival might be Disney’s new streaming platform, but that remains to see.
Netflix Party Plugin
Through the Guerilla phase, one of the participants mentioned there was a plugin/chrome extension called Netflix party that had a very similar feature to what I wanted to achieve. Netflix Party synchronizes video playback and adds a group chat to your favourite Netflix shows, which is actually exactly what I’m aiming to do
If it wasn’t for the fact that this feature is rated 2.5 by 3,396 votes on the chrome web store, I probably would’ve thrown in the towel. So let’s dive in and see what they do well and what they can improve on. This is how they themselves explain their product:
Looking at the comments I was hoping to get lots of tips on how to take the same idea but make the concept stronger, but apparently the main problem seems to be that it just doesn’t function.
+ a couple more thousand comments on how it simply doesn’t work
From looking deeper into the Netflix party plugin, I understood that I can differentiate from them by having the option to have the chat on the phone.
How might we help the user watch movies on Netflix with their friends and chatting in a non-obtrusive way using both desktop and mobile?
User journey & Site Map
It’s time to start thinking about how the feature can fit into their product. User journeys and site maps are excellent tools to get a better overview of the business. I looked at these infographics below and thought: “Where can I implement my feature on these journeys?”
Brainstorming and MoSCoW
With the How Might We question in mind I put on the Rocky theme song and allowed myself to go crazy with ideas. In the past projects, I’ve come up with 30 ideas no problem in the brainstorming phase but not having people to bounce ideas off was a luxury I didn’t have. I looked over the ideas I got and categorized them into the MoSCoW chart. It seems like I’ve got a clear idea now of what I want to do. But, will the users like it?
Low and mid-fidelity prototypes
I started designing the low and mid-fidelity prototypes with my main features in mind
- Chatting (both on desktop and mobile)
- Emojis & GIFS
To ensure that the prototyping phase would go smoothly I took some time to gather a type of style guide for myself with fonts, colours, buttons etc. that Netflix was already using.
I was glad to see that all the users thought it made sense that the feature was placed on the play bar. They gave me some great insights on how I could make this feature more intuitive and explain it better. Here are some examples of changes:
- The users didn’t like the chat over the movie screen. They suggested the movie screen should move to the side and the chat should be placed on the left. They also wanted the chat to really utilise the side space, so I made it bigger.
2. I basically put all the information on how the feature worked into that tiny box on the left. Mental. I know. All the users complained they didn’t understand what my feature was or what to do, so I created a page entirely dedicated to explaining the new feature as concisely as possible.
3. Really badly designed overlay pop up. A user pointed out to me: “Susi are you trying to install a virus on my computer?”Well, I don’t know Pedro but maybe that’s worth a try after your mean comment on my precious baby. Anyway, my baby was like the swan princess and with time grew to be the most beautiful and acquired all the handsomest suitors of the land.
High fidelity prototype
Below you can find my high fidelity prototype with the happy path of sending a GIF in the chat.
And here is the mobile prototype with the same happy path.
- How to make animations on Adobe!
I thought I knew the point of the components, but turns out I didn’t. Now that I do it’s going to make the process so much faster in the next project. I also learnt the painful lesson of prioritizing. For my presentation, I made 100 slides and frantically tried to speak at the speed of light to make it all fit into 5 minutes. So I learnt to really think long and hard about which tools impacted the decision making the most and then simplifying the presentation.
And as always, my classmates are an endless source of inspiration. It’s incredible to me to see how they all manage to implement their personalities into the presentation. The methods are so varied and differ from person to person, but the results are always so good! So a big congratulations to the Ironhack UX/UI April squad!!!
Want to learn more?
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