In 1997 Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph joined forces to create a movie rental service on the internet, which, at the time, was still taking its first steps into the world. So Netflix was born. Nine years later, the portal had about 81 million subscribers in 190 countries. But just why is the platform so successful? Metro spoke with Brian Holt, senior interface engineer of the company, who has the challenging role of creating an enjoyable digital experience for subscribers.
Why is the interface experience so important for users?
It's very important, because users come to your website for some reason. We need to make a website that really responds to what they came to do. And if you have many steps in between to access this, people leave. I believe in a better user experience and a better interface to take the user to the point of what he wants to do on the website.
Do you make many changes to the Netflix interface?
Yes, we change it every day. We believe that we can do better every day. Recently, we changed [how] the titles of movies look and surprisingly that saw a 20 percent increase in subscribers to the portal, which is crazy because we did not expect it. There are users who claim they waste time looking for something on Netflix due to the amount of options you have on the platform.
Is there a trick to choose what to see faster?
It's something we're always trying to improve; we are not great at it yet. You can come to the platform to see a particular show but end up straying. We are constantly testing new ways to sort the shows we have and we’re constantly testing the search button. It's definitely something we're working on.
At the Tech Summit you mentioned that there are times when you have to be willing to throw all the work you’ve done in the trash and start over. What kind of work have you had to discard on Netflix?
I work in the subscription process area and we recently tried different ways to get from one step to another in the process of filling out your address, the type of shows that you like, etc. We tried various ways to improve the process and place the payment information first. I did a lot of work and at the end of one of the steps, I forget which one, it didn't work. I had to discard everything and start testing it all over again.
How do you define Netflix’s success?
The way in which we define our success is that people give us money for an experience and if they don’t like it, they’ll leave. If we create an irresistible product, offering the content they want, when they want it and how they want it, then they’ll continue to give us money and say “we found your service very valuable.” And when we fail in that, they’ll say “we don’t want your service and would rather go to the theater to watch a movie.” If we continue to provide great value at a decent price, I hope people will continue to use Netflix.
Will there be another increase in the subscription price?
I don’t think that's in the plans for now. What we are trying to do is look for more subscribers rather than take more money from the existing subscribers. The more people who are willing to pay $5 for better content, the more people it will benefit.
Six facts you didn't know about Netflix
- The company first opened in 1997 as an online movie rental service.
- Presence: About 190 countries.
- Investment: $3 billion
- Subscribers: 81 million
- Value: $ 266.8 million net profit.
- Most viewed series: Jessica Jones by Netflix and Marvel with 4.8 million views between 2015 and 2016.
—Viktor Rodríguez Velázquez