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Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO are continually competing to attract and retain subscribers. They mainly do this by providing unique, high-quality content, which is one of the key reasons why consumers are attracted to these sites.
But, these platforms also use a number of other tactics to get subscribers to part with their hard-earned dollars. While content is king, a great interface also makes a huge difference in the streaming services’ ability to win over subscribers.
Looking at it from a design perspective, the user experience on these platforms makes them a lot more appealing than other TV, movie, or video viewing options. Netflix, in particular, does this very well and web designers can learn a lot from this and other streaming video services to power their own strategies and processes.
Read the rest of this article to discover 8 invaluable lessons from the designs and features on these streaming platforms.
1. Offer Horizontal and Vertical Scrolling Options
Navigation, layout, and personalization are among the many factors to consider when crafting a great user experience. And, in much the same way the UX of an app plays a pivotal role in its success, your website’s user experience will also determine how well it does.
One of the things that make the Netflix user interface so appealing is the ability to simultaneously scroll horizontally through themed content and vertically through to different categories.
This is a feature web designers can emulate by allowing website visitors to scroll the content of a window to the left or right, while at the same time allowing them to scroll the content up or down as a way to provide more in-depth content options on the page.
2. Use Side Menus to Simplify Website Navigation
If a platform is difficult to use, then subscribers will switch to a different one. Netflix knows this well, which is why the platform has shown a steadfast commitment to innovation in order to align with evolving customer needs.
For this reason, the platform continues to rank at the top of the list with regard to the best streaming services. One of the major reasons why a lot of customers choose to stay with this streaming service is its ease of use.
Netflix uses side menus to make navigating the website easier – left navigation, in particular, which is easier to scan. It facilitates a vertical scanning direction (another reason why lists are so effective) and greatly improves speed since it requires fewer visual fixations to look at multiple navigation links at a glance.
3. Include Ratings and Reviews
Content and user experience are not the only factors that determine how well a video streaming service does. Many other factors come into play, including pricing, social proof, etc. A great way to inspire more trust (and ultimately conversions) on your side is to include ratings and reviews as a key part of UGC strategy.
With regard to streaming services, this is one of the factors that help users decide which product to subscribe to.
For example, Peacock features Rotten Tomatoes ratings on some of the programs on its station, which helps users determine which programs they are likely to find appealing.
For web designers building sites and then working on on-page optimization that rates different products or services, using prominently displayed professional ratings can help visitors quickly get a general idea about the quality of specific products.
4. Simplify Your Onboarding Process
Netflix has a simple and navigation-less website. While not many people can get away with that, there’s still a lesson you can take away from this by emulating the platform’s UX to ensure that you deliver a clear and concise message, above the fold, with the benefits your site offers.
Netflix uses a phrase that perfectly sums up what you’ll get by signing up: “Unlimited movies, TV shows, and more.”
They go on to make the offer even more enticing with, “Watch anywhere”.
At the same time, the platform takes the fear and risk out of signing up with “Cancel anytime”
If you can do the same on your website, you’ll likely see a boost in your conversions.
And while you’re at it, you might consider building a shortcut to your conversion points right in the banner with a call to action for things such as:
- Making a SaaS purchase
- Scheduling an appointment
- Signing up for your newsletter
- Registering for a free trial
… and so on.
Many of your visitors will require time to learn more about your business, product, or service, but this will help shorten the sign-up process for anyone who is ready to take action. Once that happens, your conversion funnel should be streamlined, as well.
Here’s how Netflix does it:
The first thing you’ll notice is that the interface is simple, clean, and distraction-free. Here, Netflix shows the user how many steps are in the process.
At the same time, the platform uses the opportunity to reiterate the benefits:
After choosing the right plan for you from the options offered, the last step involves setting up your payment.
The user interface continues to be extremely easy to use and checkout is streamlined to make the experience as smooth as possible for users.
Again, the platform reiterates the benefits and this helps to nudge users through the checkout experience in case they have doubts during the process.
5. Get to Know Your Customers
Website privacy and security laws are continually being amended, and web designers have to keep implementing new ways to strengthen their practices.
But with all of this, web designers are gaining more and more access to big data – which means they get the benefit of being able to get to know their customers better. A web design proposal can help you learn more about your customers and createa more tailored experience, boosting customer retention, conversions, and brand loyalty.
You can take a leaf out of Netflix’s book and actually get your customers to help you with this.
For example, Netflix allows users to add movies or shows to their personal viewing list and rate them with thumbs up or thumbs down. The platform then uses this information to help refine the user experience.
This way, when users are browsing the platform looking for something to watch, this percentage shows them how likely they are to like the show. The more users rate shows, the easier it becomes for the ranking algorithm to attend to their preferences.
6. Create a More Personal UX
Collecting and managing big data allows you to use different data points to build more personal experiences for your customers, leading to higher levels of satisfaction.
When you are able to deliver an exceptional UX that is personalized to each of your users’ needs, you’ll receive their loyalty in return.
Netflix and other streaming sites do this by offering helpful recommendations for programs to watch. In fact, this is one of the best ways that these services help to ensure their customer’s experience is exceptional.
Each of the major streaming platforms offers personalization in a different way:
- Netflix: This platform makes use of machine intelligence to create rows of content specifically personalized to different users.
- Hulu: Hulu provides you with recommendations for personalized content as you browse the platform.
- Apple TV: This platform gives audiences the opportunity to enjoy compelling stories within a rich and personalized experience across all types of screens.
- Disney Plus: The interface on Disney Plus allows users to scroll through new releases, as well as personalized recommendations that continue to improve with more time spent on the platform.
Web designers can learn from these platforms by using their data to create a more personalized user experience for each of their website visitors.
7. Practice Continual and Never-Ending Improvement
Netflix has undergone a lot of changes since its inception many years ago. Everything from its layout to overall branding continues to improve with each passing year.
However, it’s important to note that the platform doesn’t just roll out new features randomly. Everything is tested to ensure that the implemented changes actually enhance the user experience.
This is something you too can leverage as a web designer. You can use A/B testing to discover which of your new features are likely to take customer experience to the next level.
Once you implement those changes, monitor your key metrics to find out if the changes are having the desired effect. If not, you can simply revert your website back to the way your customers preferred it.
Important Note: When working to make improvements to your UX and other aspects of your website, keep in mind that often, trying the latest fads can prove costly if you don’t have the hard data to show that the new feature is what users want.
Also, after implementing a new feature on your website, give it enough time to prove its effectiveness and allow you to collect enough metrics for reliable insights.
Once you’ve gathered ample user feedback, you’ll have enough information to decide whether or not the feature is worth keeping.
8. Create a Tailor-Made List of Recommendations
You don’t need complex website navigation to make your content stand out, but rather you’re better off opting for a simple UX design that lets users find the content they want in the quickest way possible.
That’s actually the main reason why Netflix and other major streaming services have such a clean and visual layout. It’s simple, easy to use, and does not overwhelm users.
It presents a well-thought-out user experience and allows the platform to effortlessly showcase its best content. In this case, the UX design will determine how good the experience is for users.
And, for the most part, when people are presented with too much content, they typically end up watching the movies and shows they are familiar with. That’s why sites like Netflix use the “Because you watched…” feature and AI-driven recommendations to show you related shows that you might find entertaining.
On the main page, you’re also shown a personalized list of categories depending on your previous preferences.
9. Content Quality
Most of this article has been focused on the different elements of good user experience design, including user-friendliness, great visual design, and usability.
Netflix has a dramatic color palette that its many users have come to know and love. The platform also uses a responsive layout with appealing functions, such as the horizontal and vertical scrolling feature, side menus, ratings, reviews, etc.
However, these aren’t necessarily the only concepts that are important (for Netflix and web designers alike).
In other words, user experience alone is enough to find success with a streaming service.
Content is another important feature that determines the reputation and success of an online streaming platform.
Some platforms use a variety of content to reach particular niches (like Disney+, Wonderium, etc.), while others focus on a wider general audience (like Netflix or HBO Max, etc.)
Netflix is a great example of this concept in action. Many of the platform’s users chose it because it gives them access to original content unavailable anywhere else.
As a web designer, you also need to have unique, high-quality content that will allow you to stand out from all the rest.
10. Diversify from Traditional Content
While streaming services focus on movies, televisions, mini-series, and other audio-visual content, some streamers are beginning to differentiate from their competiors.
HBO Max, for example, hosts podcasts in addition to an extensive library of its visual content. Many of these podcasts are created as compliments to HBO Max original programming.
For example, television series like Raised by Wolves and Peacemaker each have their own complimentary podcast for each episode.
By using podcast hosting platforms to create audio-based content brands can compliment content posted on their website or elsewhere on their website. It allow opens up a number of new channels with which you can develop leads and expand your brand’s reach.
Of course, there are many other ways to diversify from traditional content including offering online courses, intergrating gamification elements onto your site, or using quizes and surveys to gather valuable feedback while giving your fans interactive content to engage with.
As you’ve seen, there are many different factors that come into play when determining the success of a video streaming service in the consumer market.
But, the two main factors are content and user experience.
The formula of user experience and content are the secrets to profitable video streaming services. They are also the key to success as a web designer.
These two factors work hand in hand to create a successful streaming service, and they are the same factors that determine your success as a web designer by helping you define the customer journey, provide an improved experience, and drive customer growth.
Are there other lessons to learn from streaming services that aren’t included here? Share your thoughts below!
Ron Stefanski is a digital entrepreneur and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online business. You can learn more from him by visiting OneHourProfessor.com
You can also connect with him on YouTube or Linkedin.