Redesigning the way we socialize — A Netflix Party case study

Background

Netflix Party first came to our attention because of the traction it was gaining from COVID-19. Due to a lot of people having to stay home, Netflix Party gained popularity as users try to find a way to still stay connected.

Who are we?

Roles: UX Research & UI/UX Design

The Challenge

The Chrome extension Netflix Party is a social essential during COVID-19. Despite its growing popularity and user base, it has a rating of fewer than 3 stars, with many users expressing their frustration with the overall experience. Our team wanted to break this down — how can Netflix Party be improved to create a better user experience?

The Solution

Our version of Netflix Party was re-designed to expand on the current features and add additional ones that we thought were fitting, based on the research that we conducted. We have observed that Netflix Party has many reviews from users who struggle with the user experience, so we wanted to implement more features and expand on current ones to create a more interactive and user-centric experience.

Overview of the Current Netflix Party Experience

Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension that allows Netflix users to watch Netflix movies/shows in sync with their friends while chatting.

Netflix Party Extension Reviews on the Google Play Store
Current Netflix Party Experience

Design Sprint Timeline

User Research

Surveys

We created and sent out surveys to better understand our users — questions ranged from their age and current life stage, to who they usually use Netflix Party with, to any additional features they would like to see. Of the 50 responses we received, a large majority consisted of college students. We used the survey responses, as well as the context from our user interviews, to guide our affinity mapping.

Individual Interviews

We conducted a total of 8 user interviews. During these interviews, we asked the users to show the process of using the extension from starting a party in order to replicate the use of Netflix Party and their behaviors and instincts in a realistic setting. Aside from this user testing, we also asked questions that ranged from general questions like why they use Netflix Party, to specific ones that addressed how they felt about certain features. From these interviews, we found that users appreciated reaction emojis and wanted additional features that the current version wasn’t providing.

  1. General questions about their use of Netflix Party, from their motivations to the way Netflix Party fits into their overall experience and user goals.
  2. Observational user testing, where we asked the users to replicate the process of starting a party to the end, allowing us to observe their behaviors and instincts in a realistic setting.
  3. Follow up questions about that process and insights about their experience, as well as address how they feel about certain features.
  • Video Chat + Audio: Users wanted a personal experience to interact with friends amidst social distancing orders.
  • Pause Alert: Users wanted a caution statement before pausing their screens to avoid having all other screens paused, leading to potential confusion and embarrassment.
  • Navigation: Users wanted the ability to be able to view screens in different sizes according to their likings.
  • Profile Change: Users wanted a more personalized profile with their own pictures.
  • Reactions: Users wanted a quick and easy way to express themselves.
  • Starting a Party: Users wanted a clearer way to create a party link and join a party.

Literature Review

During our user interviews and survey responses, we found that a lot of users wanted a reaction feature. Before diving into the creation of this feature, we conducted and explored the research behind existing versions of the reaction feature.

User Persona

After collecting data from our survey and interviews, we chose to make our persona a female college student, around the age of 18–22, who uses Netflix party to socialize. We chose TikTok as one of the brands and influencers because multiple people mentioned that they found out about Netflix Party through social media platforms.

Ideation

Affinity Mapping

After gathering user insights, we brainstormed solutions through affinity mapping on Figma by individually writing down all of our findings into virtual ‘post-its’. We then consolidated our ideas, categorized them, and reorganized any repeated or redundant post-its. After spending time discussing each category we ‘voted’ on key features by adding green stickers.

Points of Improvement

After closer analysis of the pain points in our affinity mapping, we identified six features to redesign or add to improve the experience of the existing product.

  1. Starting a party → Redesign how to start a party for a more user friendly and personalized experience.
  2. Profile Picture → Allow users to have more options including uploading their own images.
  3. Pause Alert → Integrate a warning for users when pausing the video for all parties.
  4. Live Reaction → Allow users to quickly express their feelings during their party.
  5. Minimize Chat → Create a clear way for users to minimize sidebar options to display different features.
  6. Video Calling → Allow users to have a live-time experience through video calling with mute options.

Sketches

During the second week we each made rough sketches based off of the features we highlighted from our affinity map. Here are our sketches (in order) Cheryl, Ying, Maysnow, and Alekhya.

Lo/Mid Fi

After forming a clear idea about the features we wanted to include, we laid out all our ideas and were able to work through the technicalities. The following week we started finalizing edits and refining the features.

Design System

Since the Netflix design system is not publicly available we retrieved colors and recreated icons and components from Netflix and Netflix Party’s existing UI.

Solutions

1. Starting a Party

We simplified the steps and created a more user friendly experience. In the redesign, the link sharing page serves as the landing page. After a user test, we decided to add a preview button that allows users to have a glimpse at what they are watching and how large their party is.

2. Profile Change

Profile icons and nickname changes were redesigned to minimize the two step process into one step for ease and efficiency. Users can also upload their own profile pictures.

3. Pause Alert

When the user pauses, a reminder appears with options to close the box and continue or pause the video. A ‘don’t show again’ option is available once users feel more comfortable with the extension.

4. Live Reaction

To better understand reactions to implement, we did a literature review and explored universal emotions and Facebook’s reactions. We custom designed our own reactions in Adobe Illustrator.

5. Custom Sidebar + 6. Video Calling

We designed quite a few micro interactions as part of customizing the sidebar. The users would now be able to minimize and expand the chat box and video call to fit their needs. Through our research, we also found that users’ greatest pain point was not being able to have a more personal interaction. We conceptualized and implemented a video chat feature so that users can physically see and speak with their friends while simultaneously streaming videos. We utilized the space at the top of the screen for chat notifications and users video preview when the sidebar is minimized. We included personal video and mute buttons for customization. This project is prototyped for a 2 way video but we decided to keep the max video screens to 4 people to maximize functionality.

Takeaways

  • Prototyping & Figma
  • Holistic understanding of design sprint and design process
  • Working collaboratively while remote
  • Having different strengths

Future Steps

  • Include a user on-boarding process for new users to understand the features
  • Expanding to other streaming platforms
  • Mobile app

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Design Interactive

Design Interactive

We’re a student-run design consultancy @ UC Davis!