Video UX Mistakes Most TV Operators Make
Insights | By Derek Ellis
Gone are the days when content was considered king – today, it’s the user experience that sits atop the throne. Television operators around the world are looking more closely than ever at how their viewers interact and behave with their video service, all with the ultimate aim of delivering a better, more personalized UX. After all, this can often be the deciding factor between more time spent watching video and abandonment.
This isn’t a trend just contained to media. UX has always been one of the primary drivers of success in business, whether you’re delivering content, building smartphones or selling cars. One of my favorite quotes comes from Dr. Ralf Speth, the CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, who says:
If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.
The numbers back it up too. Forrester Research came out with a study last year, ‘The Six Steps for Justifying Better UX’, which revealed that well-designed user experiences could increase conversion rates by over 400%. Let that sink in for a moment.
With such fierce competition in the online video marketplace, businesses have to avoid UX mistakes at all costs. Slow loading times, dysfunctional functionally, poor visual design and hierarchy – all and more can result in a consumer deserting one service for an alternative. So, what should you be looking out for? Here’s a run-down on some of the biggest UX mistakes we often come across and some tips on how to avoid them.
#1. Not Thinking of Every User
Personalization. Yes, you’ve heard it before – there are countless statistics and reports out there which prove that tailoring the user experience to the end viewer can help drive sales, build brand loyalty and help users discover content more easily.
That’s why it’s so crazy that some TV operators still have not taken the plunge and invested in technology that helps facilitate custom video experiences – one size does not fit all.
Indeed, I recall a conversation with a public service broadcaster last year who told us that as their content right windows were only 30-days long, the library was never full enough to warrant investment into personalization.
Nope. For us, this doesn’t cut it.
Done well, personalization is the foundation of a great UX. Just look at Netflix – estimates reveal that 80% of the TV shows people watch on Netflix are discovered through the platform’s recommendation system. However, making the P-word a reality can be a lot more complicated than it first may seem. It’s an evolving space, with complex technological requirements that many of the world’s media giants have spent millions trying to crack.
Before starting your journey of crafting genuinely tailored experiences, we suggest thinking of the following:
- Defining Personalization – Everyone knows that it’s something they want to do, but you need to define what it means in relation to your business objectives. Are you trying to deliver targeted experiences to each and every end user (individualized personalization)? Alternatively, are you taking a more segmented approach, grouping users based on specific characteristics, such as their likelihood to churn or their content appetite? Nailing this early on in the design process helps to align all stakeholders on what they want the personalization to be and how it might work.
- Is Personalization the Right Strategy for Me? – You need a clear reason as to why you’re investing in the technology. Doing it only because ‘everyone else is doing it’ is a sure-fire way to spend a lot of money implementing a complex system that may not fit your specific needs. Consider whether you have the fundamental user data in place to power personalization, the resources and workforce to manage it effectively, and, most importantly, robust processes to validate your ideas through rigorous testing and review.
- Bring in Tech Teams at the Start – Your engineers and technical teams will be able to advise you early on your current architecture and its capability to support personalization. Most media companies today have complex, legacy systems that will require a new system to be retrofitted. This can prove to be costly over the long-term, so to ensure you’re balancing your priorities, we advise keeping these teams close to all decision making around personalization.
There’s more we could say on this topic, but the most fundamental thing to remember is that personalization, to whatever degree and in any capacity, plays a huge role in delivering great UX. And that’s the goal, right?
#2. Overcomplicating the User Interface
You’ve heard the cliché “less is more,” but you really couldn’t be more on the money when it comes to visual design. Cluttered screens, endless descriptions, unnecessary features and overtly promotional assets, are some of the most frustrating things a viewer has to deal with.
We’re designers – we get it. You’ve spent a lot of time and effort perfecting your product. It’s challenging to cut features or graphics that you’ve spent months (sometimes year’s) slaving over. However, it’s something that needs to happen if you want to stand a chance of keeping your customer’s eyeballs on the screen. Success lies in simplicity, and simplicity requires ruthlessness.
You only have to look at some of the interfaces offered on the set-top boxes from MVPDs to understand the irritation experienced by viewers who are forced to work with archaic UIs. Yes, in fairness, these companies struggle to adapt thanks to hardware restrictions and a slow-moving business model, but one could argue that this lack in flexibility has opened the doors to the likes of Netflix and Amazon to swoop in and quickly capture huge market share.
If you need help figuring out what to cut, you can’t go wrong asking your viewers. Reliable market research underpins any good UX. Figure out what your users want to watch, how they want to discover it, the amount of help they need if they get lost, if and when they want to engage with their social circle (plus many more) and begin prioritizing the features that help them achieve these objectives.
Visual simplicity also makes a service much easier and more engaging to use. Build the concept of whitespace into your design to help your movie and television posters pop. Prioritise legibility and readability, without overloading on the text. Build a UX for the platform your viewer is watching on, whether it’s web, mobile or connected TV, but maintain a design consistency that stays true to your brand’s identity. All of these principles and more should come under consideration when designing a video UX.
#3. Not Setting Themselves Up for Success
When it comes to running an OTT service, success usually comes down to the following:
- Grow audience share.
- Retain audience share.
- Reduce operational costs.
All of this leads to the ultimate goal of maximizing revenue over the long-term while simultaneously minimizing the amount of time and money spent to acquire that income (i.e., profit). And while our industry is now close to two decades old, we are still often approached by TV operators who struggle to achieve these goals.
Of course, consumer trends, legacy architecture, fierce competition and restricted budgets all play a big part in the overall success of an OTT service. It’s a tough market, dominated by a handful of significant players who have set the standard for what constitutes compelling user experiences and continue to capture vast swathes of the global video market.
However, that’s why finding technology partners who can help set you up for success from the beginning is more fundamental than ever.
We built Massive AXIS as a tool that would give our customers full control over their user experience, across devices, without writing any additional lines of code post-integration. Users of services powered by AXIS can enjoy rich, compelling and consistent user interfaces that not only reflect the brand’s identity, but that can also be adapted to cultural temples, the acquisition of new content rights and personal viewer preferences, all in real time.
For instance, say you were a video provider that had internally built two lists of premium content – one titled ‘Kid Favourites and the other ‘Cult Horror Movies.’ With AXIS, an operator can easily create and schedule two distinct user experiences, both tailored for the respective audience segments, and schedule these within the platform to appear simultaneously. Not only does this help streamline internal daily workflows (say goodbye to pressing the ‘launch’ button at midnight!), but it also is a strong way to attract and retain users. Telecine, the film division of Brazil’s pay television programmer, Globosat, used this functionality to grow its OTT traffic by 75% in under 12 months – here’s the case study.
Great UX can be boiled down to a few key components – building for the user, staying true to your brand’s identity, not skimping on quality testing, doing your research – but ultimately, it’s achieved through simplicity. Avoid complicated, unnecessary functionality and features that serve no purpose more significant than a vanity metric. Take the time to plan your roadmap, not based on what your competitors are doing, but instead on the qualitative feedback and quantitative viewing data collected from your audience. And, above all else, choose the right partner who understands your objectives and knows how to help get you there.
You’ll be hitting that 400% increase in conversion in no time.