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Netflix User Profiles

on Android, iOS, and gaming consoles

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The Problem

People often tell us during user research that they can't find anything interesting to watch, or they only see kids content. 

Netflix’s algorithm favors recently watched. When a household shares an account, content recommendations are often catered to one person. For instance, parents who frequently play Netflix for their kids only see cartoon recommendations, or couples only see content recommendations for one spouse.

 
 

Our Hypothesis

Having individual profiles for different household members improves personalization, and will result in higher streaming hours from members.

 
 
 

My Role

My team has a product manager, several engineers, and another designer.

 
 
 

Separate or Merged Spaces?

 
Design Framework – Separate Spaces (Left), Merged Spaces (Right)

Design Framework – Separate Spaces (Left), Merged Spaces (Right)

 

I began by conceptualizing the design framework. Should each profile get its own space and log in separately or should there be a general space and we specify which person each content recommendation is for? I drafted some proposals and took them to user research. Here are the findings:

Isolated Spaces:

  • Better for privacy as content recommendations tend to give away what you watch

  • Knowing exactly who's watching helps the algorithm improve future recommendations

  • Parents preferred this so their kids won't have access to content that isn't suitable to them

Merged Spaces:

  • Have to tell us who's watching every time something is played so the algorithm can attribute the viewing to the right person

  • Suitable for couples who watch together or don't mind the overlap

  • Less privacy

Privacy was a huge concern so we went with isolated spaces.

 
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Design & User Research


After some initial designs and reviews, I prototyped the designs and shared with our researcher. We came up with a list of research questions together and took them on the road.

Netflix users reacted positively to having individual profiles. They preferred their own spaces for privacy reasons. Some people were actually surprised that the content on their homepage was personalized. They were frustrated when they went to their friend's house and saw a movie that they didn't know we had.

 
 
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A/B Testing

Netflix is famous for testing their UIs rigorously. For profiles, we tested the sign-up flow. We were interested in knowing how to present our value proposition to get the most sign-ups.

In one design, we tested the ease of sign-up. We made signing up for a profile as simple as putting in a profile name. In another design, we listed out the benefits one by one. In another design, we tested personalization by asking people to choose their icon and name their profile during sign-up. After a few months of testing, we learned that the ease of sign-up got us the highest number of profiles and retention numbers.