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Streaming Service UX: Best Practices for Improving Viewer Engagement

Nikki Perugini

Design Director - APAC

April 25, 2023


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It is a long established fact that UX can make or break a streaming service. What is less commonly understood, is how to create a platform that truly connects with viewers. There is an ever-increasing number of video services all vying for attention, and providers need to go beyond the basics of simply presenting a content catalog and minimizing navigation issues. A standout UX is a key differentiator, and it is vital if you want your audience to keep coming back for more.


Designing a video streaming service with users at the center

Before you can create a winning UX for your video service, you need to be really clear about what will make the user happy. Identifying what a good OTT user experience means for your particular target audience is critical in ensuring that the design is streamlined and relevant. You first need to understand precisely what the user is looking for, and then work to have the service fulfill their needs in a functional and highly efficient manner. You’ll also need to explore things like interactivity, making the UX as immersive and engaging as possible. That’s all very well but how do you actually do it? 

At Accedo, we understand that user behavior and platform interaction is unique, so to identify the specific needs of any given audience, we implement tried and tested research methodologies including, user interviews, surveys, user testing, and customer insights. When exploring the requirements and preferences of your consumer base, assumption is often the enemy. Therefore, it is also crucial to analyze industry and market factors that contribute to user engagement. The results may well surprise you.

Let’s not forget that consumers have come to expect a consistent, seamless experience across all their devices. They want to watch content at home and on the go, regardless of the device they are using, and they expect to easily catch up where they left off. When designing a seamless OTT user experience, what you are able to achieve will be impacted by technological limitations on the lowest performing device. It is therefore important to factor in how these limitations will impact the overall performance of your service. Your new feature may well be the coolest in the history of streaming, but if it doesn’t perform correctly then it is of no actual value. Poor performance will result in user frustration and may even drive viewers to ditch your app in favor of another.


Creating a smooth onboarding process

While it is crucial to make sure that UX is great for existing service users, it is just as important to not overlook the design and platform experience when onboarding new customers. The goal of onboarding is to help users understand how the service works by providing a guided introduction in the form of a single interaction or series of interactions. User onboarding explains to the user what they can get from the service. It also helps to make the user feel as comfortable as possible in the shortest conceivable time. The process should be easy to understand and quick to complete; after all, a user wants to join the service as painlessly as possible. Potential viewers need all the core information about the service upfront, including the cost, features, subscription period and the content they’ll be able to access. It’s important to only provide the necessary information, and to limit the number of fields and screens that the new user has to navigate through. Too many annoying warnings about a mandatory field not being completed, could be enough to trigger someone to give up. Smooth onboarding design is an important part of user retention. 


Personalizing video recommendations and user experience 

Personalization is another essential part of making sure your service gives the user the most comfortable and familiar experience possible. OTT video services with personalized video recommendations and experiences are proven to perform better over time because they result in greater customer satisfaction. Individual user profiles are vital because they allow you to personalize each element of the service, starting with the home page. Customizing everything from video recommendations and trailers, to what’s currently being watched and the user’s history, will help to make the whole experience feel relevant. There is even an option to personalize the thumbnails and previews for content recommendations, to appeal to a specific user. 

Reducing the mental effort that the user must exert while engaging with the service is another important part of creating a good UX. This will be a natural consequence of getting personalization right. Users don’t want to spend time and energy finding something to watch and making decisions about whether they’ll like it. Features that help users rewatch shows, pick up where they left off, or accept recommendations, ensure ongoing engagement.  As with onboarding and subscribing, the home page and other key screens should be simplified as much as possible, and only display key information. This helps prevent a cluttered interface, making it easier for users to find what they are looking for. By reducing the need to continually search through options, a viewer’s cognitive load will be reduced. 


Make sure UX and data analytics go hand in hand 

For effective personalization, you need reliable data and great analytics. With a new service or redesign of an existing one, integrating research and analytics into each step of a project, from discovery through to post-launch review, is key in ensuring that the impact is measured effectively. Although getting the UX right at launch is obviously essential, so too is its continuous improvement and optimization. This information allows you to analyze viewer habits, so you can make data driven decisions and adapt the UX to keep your subscribers happy. Viewer habits change over time, so a good service continually adapts to the changing needs of its audience. By experimenting with different designs, through A/B testing with different UX iterations, we can find out what works and what doesn’t. Essentially, by monitoring and reviewing UX and data analytics, we can find out what keeps the viewer satisfied, and take appropriate action.


Crafting a compelling UX for OTT platforms

At Accedo, we know what it takes to design a video streaming service with multi-platform UX that delights users, while meeting overarching business requirements. We have a creative team of specialists focused on human centered design, who know how to craft innovative and original multi-screen solutions, that answers both user and business needs. 

Whether you are launching a new OTT service or have an existing one that is underperforming, Accedo has the knowledge and expertise to help you achieve your aim. To find out more about how our team of UX and creative design specialists can help you, please get in touch

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