Netflix and the story behind the double thumb

Surely we should start with the most basic, and that is you may be wondering what Netflix double thumb is. It is normal that you do not know, because we are talking about a new function of the streaming service interface, with which you can let the service know, and therefore its algorithm, that this content is above liking it, that you love it ( in fact its name is I love it!), with all the consequences that this may have in the future. This feature has been rolled out to all users today.

Thus, if you access Netflix, select any content and are about to do a traditional “Like”, suddenly you will see several options displayed, a thumb pointing down, a thumb pointing up, and two thumbs also pointing up. The first two elements do not need any further explanation, since they have been present on Netflix for many years and, in addition, they are comparable to those that we can find in many other services and social networks.

And how did you get to the double thumb? A first impulse could lead us to think that one day a meeting was called at the Netflix offices, the possibility of having something like a super like, and a couple of hours later the developers were already working on implementing it. Big mistake, and a very interesting Protocol article allows us to know, step by step, the entire maturation process from initial concept to feature deployment.

The first thing that surprises is knowing that the idea originated about a year and a half ago. Yes, you read that right, 18 months for the implementation of a function that, seen from the outside, seems quite basic. Of course, it seems that way, but this is the right time to remind us again that Netflix is, today, one of the technology companies that most prioritizes the time the user spends on the service and that, consequently, all changes are studied very, very thoroughly.

The starting point occurs when user feedback tells Netflix that part of them consider that the vote «Like», puts on equal terms a content that we like and one that excites ussomething that deprives the platform of better tuning in the personalized selection of content.

Netflix and the story behind the double thumb

Once it is decided to answer this point, the design phase begins. And one of the first options is, as many would think, keep thumb down, thumb up and add a heart for those especially highly rated content by the user. In this phase, however, other designs were also tested, such as the representation of a clap, a shooting star and similar elements, which were quickly identifiable.

Among them, although it did not seem the most obvious choice, was the double thumb, and the way in which Netflix ended up opting for it is found in the multiple tests and interviews carried out by the company with its users. And this is, without a doubt, the most interesting point, since it tells us that what seems to be the most obvious option at first glance may not actually be so when subjected to in-depth analysis.

And it is that, if we stop to think about itwhat tells us that a heart is better than a thumb pointing up or vice versa? It is true that if we stop to read it, we could know it, but the key in these decisions is that the elements are read and “deciphered” immediately, to provide a quick interaction. The double thumb is clearly recognizable within the Netflix signage codeand no one would doubt that two “OK” is something better than one.

It is not, and this will be remembered by the most veteran Netflix users, the first change in the content rating system. Until 2017, heThe platform allowed each content to be rated between zero and five starsa truly universal evaluation method, but which, on the other hand, forced users to carry out a more complex evaluation, which in some cases ended the immediacy of the operation, and in other cases dissuaded users from making said evaluation.

As in that case, and in the tests of many other functions, Netflix does not take it lightly. Quite the contrary, these processes can take a long time. We have a perfect example in this case, with about a year and a half of A/B testing, interviews and, even, of being exposed to the fact that some of the people who participate in a test make it public, ending the effect of surprise.

It is, without a doubt, very interesting to know how these types of processes are carried out, and the enormous amount of intelligence and analysis that there is even after a change as apparently simple as this one. And it is that if Netflix has dedicated about a year and a half to add the double thumb, it is surprising to imagine the time that may be necessary to undertake larger plansas a complete redesign of its interface.

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