Case Study: Netflix Affinity

Product Designer

4 Weeks

Social feature for current Netflix platform

Tool Stack

Netflix Affinity logoGif of mobile mockups of app design

Introducing Affinity

The Challenge

“Stories move us. They make us feel more emotion, see new perspectives, and bring us closer to each other.”

Netflix, leader on streaming film & tv, wants to make a move into helping that connection further. It already has some core capabilities, like users having a family profile and group watch. However, there’s much more that can be done.

The Opportunity

I worked to build a prototype to support the hypothesis that stronger communities increase user retention. To create more social connection, I designed a new social feature that embeds within the current Netflix platform. Netflix Affinity allows Netflix subscribers to share their watching habits with friends and family.

Netflix movies posters

Around 75 million US and Canadian adults have a Netflix subscription.

As of 2020, Netflix users watched an average of 3.2 hours of video per day through the service⁠—that’s 6 billion collective hours per month.

Netflix revealed that it had gained an additional 15.77 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2020 alone as billions of people around the world were forced into quarantine and social distancing.


Conducting research to learn about Netflix subscribers and their watching habits

The goal during research was to learn more about people’s social habits around film and television and their experience with social features in entertainment apps.

Research objectives:
•   Discover a user’s motivations behind having a Netflix     subscription
•   Understand what actions users take when they share     their favorite films and TV shows
•   Learn about competitor streaming services that users     experience in a group or social capacity.

“I love Netflix, but there’s too many options.”

“I only watch recommendations I get from my friends on Netflix.”

“I wish I could see what shows my friends are watching in real time.”

Illustration of person watching Netflix

User Interviews & Competitive Analysis

Some key takeaways from the research was that some Gen-Z/Millennial users have experienced decreased satisfaction for the streaming service due to the overwhelming amount of options. They also find Netflix’s personalized recommendations to not be useful, as they rely on their family and friends for content recommendations.

Secondary research also showed that Netflix was still the leading streaming platform in subscribers and social feature capabilities.

Competitive analysis of NetflixCompetitive analysis of HBO MaxCompetitive analysis of HuluCompetitive analysis of Disney+


Defining the user experience for Affinity

After learning about people and their pain points around their Netflix watching habits, I began to synthesize the research and define the user experience through empathy mapping and personas.

Empathy Map & Persona
I created an empathy map and persona to capture knowledge about an Netflix user’s behaviors and attitudes. This exercise showed major frustrations for Netflix users:

1. Users are overwhelmed with the amount of content they have to browse through.
2. Users don't feel that they can rely on Netflix's personalized recommendations.

Empathy map showing what a user says, thinks, does and feelsPersona of Netflix user

Creating Affinity group task flow

One of the main user tasks for this feature is creating an Affinity group. The major consideration for this task is to make sure the flow embeds well with the rest of the tasks users can complete on the Netflix platform.

Task Flow graphic


Ideating for increased social connection

The next step was to begin ideating on different design solutions for Netflix Affinity. The objective for this was to generate ideas that would increase Netflix users' ability to create social connections through film & TV.

Designing within the Netflix brand and current platform

When ideating designs for this social feature, it was important to consider that the designs would need to smoothly embed within the platform.

The solution for this was to ideate within the Netflix system, using established screen patterns and UI elements.

An image show sketches and wireframes of the new Kaus site
Seven wireframes of app design

Prototyping & Testing

Testing efficacy of new social feature

Using the mobile prototype, I conducted usability tests with a few objectives in mind:

• Gain insight on how well the new feature addresses   existing problems.
• Identify the main drivers of value for the new feature.

Usability test findings

Through usability testing I found some key takeaways that informed the priority design revisions made to the prototype. One is that Netflix users are not familiar with how and when new features launch on the mobile application.

I was also able to confirm that Netflix users strongly desire a social feature like Affinity. Users confirmed struggling with the ability to connect their watching behaviors with their community of friends and family and reported that Affinity would address that.

Delivery of Final Product

Final Deliverable

After conducting usability tests, I distilled actionable insights from the feedback and implemented them in the new design. Some updates include updating the UX to include launch features and creating a more community-centered home screen for Affinity.

iPhone mockup of app designiPhone mockup of app designiPhone mockup of app designiPhone mockup of app design

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