Recently I wrote about how making things easier for users can deliver the user behavior you want. You can have more people keeping a city clean if you do it right, and you can lose network effects in a social product if you don’t do it right. (I cringe a bit as a use the word ‘right’ in the context of product design).
At the same time, you can be borderline evil (again, I don’t like that word, ‘evil’) if you make things too easy, and take control from the user – making them feel powerless.
Netflix does this.
When an episode ends, you get some seconds during which you can do nothing, and then the new episode starts. So Netflix makes it harder to not watch the next episode. It pushes you to binge watch.
That’s okay, if most users want to binge watch, but I feel this takes things too far. And I am not alone.
Netflix adds at least 4 steps to make you stop auto-play of videos. A monumental task given our attention spans.
Youtube does something similar with autoplay of recommended videos, but you don’t have to search the help pages to find the option to turn autoplay on/off.
This works beautifully. If I do want to binge watch, or in my case, binge listen, Youtube does a great job of finding the right content for me and keeps playing it – making a lovely experience. I let it run in the background with music while I do other tasks.
At the same time, when I want to take control and focus on, say, learning videos, I turn it off and engage with Youtube more.
I also like that the recommendations are in a specific order – this makes it even easier for the user. In some places we get 3 ‘next’ pieces of content, like with Quora or Medium, but Youtube gives a rather clear order for consumption, with the freedom to skip the order. I suspect this contributes to sustained high growth of Youtube user base.
Giving users both ease and control can be quite the challenge, and Youtube seems to do it well.