Netflix - Analysis
Structure and Navigation
Netflix creates a highly personal experience. With that in mind, they have found a way to create an individual interface for every user, while maintaining an organized foundation. The structure of the app is quite straightforward. When you log in, you’re immediately prompted with a “Continue Watching” section. The top bar has a menu icon (the love-to-hate hamburger menu), the Netflix logo (got to love brand reinforcement), and a search icon. Below “Continue Watching”, Netflix introduces a section for Popular Content and Trending Now. I’ll expand more on these in the functionality analysis. Within the navigation menu, the user is presented with the option to switch profiles, view notifications (such as alerts of recently added episodes of shows that you have “listed”), view downloads, select any variety of genres to search through, or browse specifically through Netflix original content. Beyond that are the expected options of app settings, account information, privacy, help and the ability to sign out. Overall, the structure of the app follows a library model. The user is presented with content, separated by different variables, in hopes of finding a winner to watch.
The functionality of Netflix is quite interesting. It uses algorithms to suggest content a user would like, based on previous viewing history and rating behavior. It can suggest movies similar to ones recently watched, recommend a re-watch of previously seen content, and introduce new tv series that follow patterns of ones the user has enjoyed. Aside from personalized suggestions, the large user base that Netflix has (86.7 million subscribers worldwide) allows for them to gather and suggest content that is especially popular. Similar to Twitter and Facebook, trending content is a factor user’s value to try something they may not have considered if they didn’t realize it was hot at the moment. Additionally, Netflix allows the user to control the playback quality of video in the App Settings menu. This is important functionality for people who want to be conservative about their data usage if they watch Netflix while not on Wi-Fi (or if they're concerned about data limits on personal Wi-Fi networks as well).
They also recently a new feature, the ability to download shows and movies for offline viewing. This comes out of great desire for the functionality. Users had been requesting this ability really since Netflix began offering online content. This caters to a whole new set of users' needs, like for those who are traveling and unable to access data or wifi, or for people who like to be smart about data or wifi usage.
Netflix allows a bit of interactivity within the app. Users can rate shows and movies. Through the details screen, shows and movies can be “shared” using the phone’s native controls. Additionally, content can be added to “My List” to be saved for later. By listing content, the user can follow activity. If you “list” the show Arrow, for example, when new episodes arrive on Netflix, you’ll receive a notification. “My List” is also a category on the Netflix home page, so users can easily access shows they’ve selected.
Unlike the streaming competitors, Netflix has a very dark UI (comparatively to Hulu’s light gray and green color scheme, and Amazon’s light gray and blue). This design, which I’m certain was intentional, allows for the perfect content viewing experience. Typically, when a person is watching a movie in their home or at a theater, the surroundings are dark. It adds to the atmosphere. This adds to watching content on Netflix as an experience, not just something passive. It also allows for easier reading and viewing in lowlight settings, such as at night. The contrast of white text on the black background is easier to see, and their main accent color of red also stands out very crisply on the black background. This makes seeing progress on an episode very easy and unmistakable, no matter the scene of the show (see example photo below). The black also creates a canvas-like backdrop for viewing movies and shows on the main screen. The user isn’t going to be distracted by unnecessary textures and colors. It is a truly content-focused visual experience. Everything about the UI of Netflix is sleek. The touch targets for buttons are spaced out so that a user won't accidentally press the wrong button. Play buttons are clearly visible and allow for quick viewing.