Netflix vs. Hulu: And How Does That Make You Feel?

Netflix and Hulu are two of the world’s most popular television and movie streaming services. Each provide near identical services with the only real differences coming from price, original content and overall selection. But that seems to only scratch the surface of the two streaming services. Let’s take a closer look on the UX/UI design side of things and really see how these two services measure up against each other.

Before we begin let me clarify that each website should be making me feel a certain way based on my needs. For example, Netflix makes me feel calm based on my need for choice. Netflix satisfies my need for choice by presenting me with pre-selected content they think I would like based on my previous viewing habits.

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To begin let’s look at Netflix’s user experience. On the site I feel engrossed, valued and stimulated because my need for creativity, understanding and competence are being met. Netflix has a recommended for me feature based on previous shows I’ve watched and enjoyed that is designed to point me towards other content I will theoretically, equally enjoy. That beings said I can also search for genres I am in the mood for viewing and Netflix will provide me movies that meet that genre and they think I will like.

Looking at Netflix’s visuals I feel calm, grateful and appreciative because my need for consciousness, beauty and ease are being met. Netflix has a beautiful black background and easy to navigate site with plenty of options. The only negative in Netflix’s user interface is that often times loud ads will play when you scroll through the site.

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Switching over to Hulu let’s take a look at their user experience. Hulu’s website interface makes me feel calm, spacious and satisfied because my need for flow, spaciousness and rest are being met. Hulu presents you with… well… not much. I don’t mind this, I find that other streaming services can be cramped at times with options. The problem comes with just about every scare thing presented at you is an ad for a Hulu original. I do enjoy being able to make my own choices, free of an ai that takes note of everything I watch, but I am critical when most of the things presented at me come from one place.

Hulu’s user interface makes me feel lethargic, annoyed and frustrated because my need for clarity, choice and beauty are not being met. Hulu’s background is stark white, which causes a lot of eye strain when I’m not already struggling to process the overly bright thumbnails of every show or movie. Everything you want to watch is difficult to find. Scrolling down the site will show you various movies and shows thrown in interchangeably so you’re never sure what you’re clicking on to watch. One could scroll for hours before finding something they’d like. The site has blocks of emptiness and it is certainly felt.

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This is a really interesting experiment to take with you on each website you visit. Take note of what works and what doesn’t, how you feel and if your needs are being met. This practice can greatly improve your own website creation.

Check out my PDF presentation on this for more info: Libby Cardone ICM 512 Principles of User Experience Design (1)

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