Unless you know exactly what you want to watch next on Netflix, choosing what to watch next can be a real chore. It’s not that you can’t find something to stream as soon as you start scrolling, and there’s always your queue to get back to. But what if there’s something better? You can’t only scroll vertically and be done with it, every single row also scrolls horizontally.
Thankfully, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings just suggested that the service’s user interface might get a significant redesign, one that would drop the grid UI in favor of a layout that’s more like a magazine. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that choosing what movie or TV show to watch next will get any easier.
Netflix’s CEO did say that the current layout is full of small boxes that remind him of classified ads, MobileSyrup reports, adding that he wants the UI to spur “visual interest.”
Hastings said Netflix isn’t “enough like a magazine, where it’s gloriously laid out.” That might sound exciting to some people, but not everyone at Netflix necessarily agrees. Netflix’s vice president of product and studio design Steve Johnson said during the same press event that he doesn’t think the design will change fundamentally in the near future.
“What we’re finding is the way that the grid is set up is actually working relatively well around the world,” the exec said. “I also believe that from a competitive perspective, people are actually educating people on how to use these products.”
However, Johnson said that he doesn’t think the grid look will work forever, “and I think that we need to go deeper and we are going deeper.”
It’s unclear when the magazine look might be made available for testing. Johnson said there are hundreds of different A/B tests right now, but he only offered a few examples.
For example, Netflix might look to increase the size of movie titles on Friday night, when people want to watch more content. A more noteworthy test involves Netflix trying to guess what you want to watch next based on your regular routine, and the UI could start the show as soon as you load Netflix. Johnson explains:
Routines and behaviors are things like this: If I’m in the middle of watching The Umbrella Academy, okay, I’ve come home every single night, and I’m turning on the next episode of The Umbrella Academy. Some of the things that we should consider is [when] we turn on Netflix tomorrow, should we just start the next episode of The Umbrella Academy?
Cameron Johnson, the company’s director of TV product innovation, said the purpose of these tests is to decide whether or not to roll out a new feature. “It’s not a senior executive at the company who says ‘this is the new feature and the button should be blue.’ We test, and we only roll out [the tests that win],” Johnson said. That seems to be a clear suggestion that before a magazine-style UI comes to Netflix, users will have to approve it.