How to reduce the endless scrolling we do on netflix/others
A proposal on how design can reduce scrolling on streaming services. Along with enhancing the user’s overall experience. (Images and videos within to help express the insights. After 15 seconds if you wish, you can end the one-minute videos.
We’re now in the age where vessels of our favorite shows and movies which we enjoy, are available anytime and anywhere for an affordable price on Netflix and others. From content reaching far back in time when our elders were young, to the latest fresh from the cinema blockbusters. However, for every great advancement and innovative development, there are always some drawbacks. Most of the time they seem so insignificant they bare no concern. But still, enough to be a problem, an annoyance. Enough to inspire others to try and change things.
So what is the problem
Diving straight to it, being spoiled for choice. This problem was not hard to identify since it is a problem shared by myself and others around the world. After finishing a show or a movie which was enjoyed, the feeling may arise of not knowing what to watch next. Why? when there is so much to choose from.
So my only incentive was to find out the problems that existed and the causes from a psychological point of view. Then form and present an idea on how it can be improved.
Finding the Why
Understanding why there is a problem is not always easy to seek out, and one can get misled by quick-fix solutions just banging hammers on heads. However, the goal is not only to find a quick fix solution, but to find innovative opportunities that a problem may have well hidden by diving deep into research and discoveries.
The realization is well felt that having endless amounts of content to watch brings with it a constant feeling, that there is always something better waiting to be viewed, or there’s nothing that matches our taste. And so the scrolling begins. Scrolling and scrolling like we do on Instagram. On the search for a greater content to watch than the one before. Then the point of scrolling is no longer about what to watch, but what’s available. In the end, one may just stick with what they know, play it safe. Or unable to make a decision at all and do other things.
It’s like a wandering camel, in the desert, equally hungry and equally thirsty. Suddenly and randomly presented with food and water. Food to its left, water on its right same distance apart. Now being that the camel is unable to make the decision of whether to go for the food or water because it’s paralyzed by the choice it should make, it dies of both. The point to this story is, not been able to make a decision can leave us feeling paralyzed by choice. Therefore, not been able to make a decision that is satisfying. Thankfully we don’t die at the end, but the incentive to watch something does a little.
What does help us make our decision easier?
What leads us to the introduction of new content waiting to be absorbed by our eyes and ears? Suggestions. Suggestions can be in the form of marketing, personal data, or word-of-mouth. And why are suggestions and the algorithms that support those suggestions so important for streaming services? Attention. Suggestions in whatever form, overall purpose is to divert and hold our attention long enough for our interest to catch up. Seeking and searching for some kind of commonalities/attachment with what you already like. Let’s say your interest is within sci-fi. A content suggested to you with a dose of sci-fi would most likely hit your curious more than horror, if you have no interest in horror.
And that’s the golden goose, how to gain and retain attention to new content long enough for curiosity to catch up. A mixture between serendipity and peaking a users interest is what helps make a decision easier when on Netflix/others. That’s why most have a preselected show or movie they would like to watch before the device is even touched, because of the great anticipation in the form of trailers, friend’s description, and ads.
Back To The Point
I already illustrated why many of us endlessly scroll. However, there’s another reason. Great artworks.
Imagine for a moment, when entering a genre to watch a film.. You are suddenly presented with these bright shining artworks for these content. And before you have even finished your consideration for one, your attention diverts to the next shiny artwork with a catchy title. Then the next, then the next.
Mobile experience :
No longevity for your attention to peak your curiosity and interest in one film, because your attention is quickly diverted to the next shiny image. Our ambiguous attempt to try and make a choice dilute our overall experience while our food gets cold and our drinks gets warm. It’s the desire to connect the moment, our state of mind and interests, to a perfect show or movie that feels right and sets the atmosphere for us and those around. However, this is not so easy.
The ideation stage of tackling a problem includes a lot of notes, constantly thinking, and collecting materials. Allowing the imagination to be unconstrained by any visual design during the embryonic stage.
What I Propose
Is a new interactive video menu, at least that’s what I call it. Instead of the conventional way of scrolling through endless list of shiny thumbnail for movies, TV shows, and documentaries. This menu will display a clip of characters and actors from different movies and shows in one fixed scene depending on genre creators. In this scene, the crossover of characters will be displaying a sense of personality and characteristics from their particular movie or TV show. Automatically, this activates human’s curiosity to know more.
Characters from shows and movies can briefly express their uniqueness in their role like a sneak peek trailer. The environment itself could be the atmosphere of a genre. (After 10 seconds you can end the video)
- Hovering or clicking on a character will display their content.
- When the timer is up next suggestion room will appear.
- Click one of your friend’s room to see their favorite shows represented by characters in that room.
Research has found that Netflix focuses more on images with individual’s faces that display facial expressions since it gives the audience a sense of wonder to know more. I assume animated non-verbal body language would also grab attention.
The mock-up scene I used here was inspired by the post-credits from The Avengers first movie. No sound to reduce distraction and information overload. However, sound effects or music could be added if done well.
This could also create opportunities to introduce unknown and not so popular shows, which may have unique characters, on the same stage as popular content.
Rating With fewer Stars And Percentages
Similar to Netflix this design could add uniqueness to how content is rated to you. The more spacious a character is, or the exaggeration of their present, the more likely this content is been specifically suggested to you.
Sit Back And See What Pops Up
The interactive menu could also be a show before the show, or a theatre waiting area before viewers enter a movie room. The point is, it’s a new way to decide what you want to watch instead of endless scrolling. You come back from a long day, sit down, and see what pops up on the screen within the 5 minutes.
Within the interactive video menu, there will be rooms full of different categories. Imagine a room filled with content you abandoned or just stopped watching. This room could have all these characters in distress in a depressing environment, almost like a pleased to continue watching. Or a random roomlike below with characters popping in and out.
Or Disney characters
I must express, implicit interactions between the characters would make more sense than the characters directly communicate with one another. Implicit meaning, only sharing the same screen. Just like how hundreds of people can share the same train with minimal or no interaction. So users can actually make a choice.
Can This Be Done Though?
And now the itching question: how can this be done? CGI, video editing, lookalike characters, Photoshop, and Steaming services ownership of specific content could make this all possible. Disney, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime would be well-prepared for this design execution because of all the rights they have to many popular contents.
It will no longer only be about what you watch, but how you watched.
Setting The Themes
The interactive menu can also be an opportunity to set themes, with multiple crossover characters from the same genre. One of my aims was to create an interface which isn’t overwhelming with too much information ( I contradict myself with this first demonstration, there’s a lot going on.) However, the main goal was to express the design out there. Plus I only used Gif within the scene, not actual video. And the idea behind this particular video design is, “the longer you look, the more you see.” Some may see Thor first, others may see Groot or Bob Burger. Allowing your curiosity and attention for these characters from their content to at least have a longer duration to peak your interest than just a static image.
No To Overload
A more interesting approach demonstrated on the second screen would be for content in the form of a character to come in and out of the scene. Presenting a few characters at a time would reduce information overload. (After 15 seconds you can end the video)
Also, this offers spontaneity, unlike any other current feature out there. You never know what you may see. Like described in the video, when 5 minutes is over, 5–10 shows would have been represented by at least one character. These characters appear depending on your previous viewing data and interest.
Maybe you care more about the antagonist than the hero. Or maybe you’re a cat person and care more about Goose, the Cat’s role in Captain Marvel more than others. A character may enter the scene in the last 60 seconds. A character may never leave or only stay for 2 minutes. Some break the fourth wall, and some don’t. Anticipation, surprise, curiosity, and interest are all fighting deep down for your attention.
No further information is shown about the content unless your curiosity demands you to know more by hovering over or clicking on a character which will provide you with more information.
So You’re Still Here.
A Simpler Idea.
If all of this feels like too much, I would also suggest a much simpler idea which still helps eliminate the scrolling problems and also focuses on encouraging viewers to add content to their list for future purposes.
The design is simple, when a viewer is clicking and scrolling through a movie list, the movie just clicked on example (Justice league’s) image will change the further you click away from it. Demonstrate below.
Indirectly this draws you back to reconsider to watch now or save it for later. Changing the image (Justice league) as soon as the viewer clicks to the next movie (Birdman) would make design sense because all the information from Justice league failed to impress the viewer, so this creates a last attempted effort to try and regain the viewer’s interest. This recreates the scenario where the viewer may reconsider simply because of a specific image they saw but in a different and more enticing way.
Statistics on which specific image impacted viewership can be measured in order to know which images work best in what order and for which types of viewers.
Recognisability/Where did it go?
This design would also eliminate the problem of recognisability of content because the image was changed. Wondering where it went and was it removed.
Recognising one of the original artwork at first glance is what many viewers prefer seeing, and do not want to make the mistake of rewatching something again.
Most of the time, people are searching for the right shows and movies to watch, but are continually scrolling and vaguely holding a title they may enjoy in their memory until it’s quickly forgotten. This is why the Add to List feature is important and how it can benefit from this reconsidered design. I do wonder if Steaming services pay attention to users memories when they’re searching for content to watch.
The selection highlighted in yellow would have to be movable to allow this experience to work.
I guess the negative effect is, the current content selected on would have a piece of its attention taken away. However, it would have two more attempts like the rest to gain the user’s interest, and the loop continues. It would be far better than the current state of things. Once the user has scrolled away, the content has no ammunition to regain interest.
Thanks for your time.