While working on the base experience for enabling the ability for our customers to download TV shows and movies and watch them offline, we started to learn a lot about what it was like for our customers to actually use this feature on a regular basis — especially in regions where viewing offline was pretty much the only way to enjoy streaming video entertainment.
Throughout our research, we learned that customers exhibited a pattern of behavior where they would download a few episodes of a series at one time, watch them and delete them, and then download a few more. This pattern would repeat for various series. We also learned that one of the more frustrating aspects of having to download shows to watch offline was remembering to actually download new shows in the first place (often the night before or the morning of heading off on a long commute to work).
What if, we thought, we could ensure that customers would always have the latest episodes of their favorite series ready to go and we could make sure that their device had the space necessary to download those new shows?
Our hypothesis was that deleting completed episodes and auto-downloading subsequent episodes would reduce the friction of watching downloaded content and lead to an increase in streaming hours.
We designed and researched many different ways to surface this feature and help customers understand how it worked but, ultimately, we discovered that it was incredibly difficult to explain the concept of what we were calling “Smart Downloads” and that this was a case where the best interface was actually no interface at all.
The prototypes we developed served the purpose of trying to expose the feature to our members and determine their understanding of the feature and, secondarily ,it allowed us to see any interactions with the feature once discovered. As I said above, however, over time we found that it was incredibly difficult to explain how the feature worked and that the best way to understand it was to just experience it.
This feature resulted in an increase in some of our streaming metrics as well as how often people visited and engaged with the app and downloaded content.