OTT Platforms – A UX Design Perspective | HCLTech

OTT Platforms – A UX Design Perspective

OTT Platforms – A UX Design Perspective
July 14, 2021

Every OTT platform has a distinct target audience and content that underline its purpose. Each OTT platform requires a distinct design approach and aesthetic. For example, a basic structure, large posters, bright backgrounds, and parental controls are preferable for kid’s channels; movies or series channels can rely on genre or background posters, and the structure can be more complex with categories and subcategories, fully filled description pages, filters, and search. Song lists and album artwork, which are often short on description, are in high demand on music channels. Additionally, music channels without videos feature a playback interface that is substantially different from music channels with videos.

Essential things to think about while building an OTT platform

Understanding the requirement and pain points of consumers, coming up with a solution to solve these demands, and producing a product for users and businesses are all steps in creating any digital product.

Process of developing a platform for OTT:

It is a two-step process:

  • Research
  • Implementation and Execution


OTT companies must offer a smooth experience in the era of content explosion on OTT platforms.

  1. Research

    Competitor Analysis

    With the advent of over-the-top services, it's more important than ever to comprehend the competitive landscape, which will help to identify and characterize current and functioning features and avoid the flaws of rival OTT platforms. Understanding our competitors is essential if we want to provide better alternatives than our competitors and obtain a competitive edge. This trend will be a significant driving factor for consumers to switch OTT service subscriptions.

    For example, ‘Add to Watchlist' and ‘Like' are frequent features on OTT platforms. Attempting to replicate the same concept for our own OTT platform, on the other hand, would be insufficient. To create the differentiator, we need to delve deeper into the idea of "favoriting" and what drives a user to add a piece of information to a list.

    Key questions to consider about OTT platforms already on offer

    • How does the watchlist work?
    • How to engage the user with a quick and simple user journey?
    • How will the user feel smart and comfortable?
    • How to handle limitations and drawbacks?

    User Research

    For every OTT platform, understanding users is critical for building user-centric experiences. One of the most vital stage of user research is empathy maps, which allow designers and engineering teams to draw consumer motivations and pain points. User research can help in determining the expectations in the context of OTT platforms:

    Major components for user research.

    • Creating user persona.
    • Building wireframe or prototype based on the person.
    • Minimal screen or steps for a user to reach the destination

    Both the competitors and the user data analyses are needed to produce a solution. This also helps in functional testing, collect instant information from users, and make changes to our approach as required. Persona and wireframe/prototype validate the platform viability and its uses from an end-user perspective.

  2. Implementation and Execution

    The issue for OTT companies is to offer a smooth experience in the era of a content explosion on OTT platforms. Users are more likely to remain on if they can access desired content quickly and effortlessly.

    The following are essential elements that aid in this process:

    • Proper differentiation of content is vital because the content is fundamental on OTT platforms. Finding and consuming it should be a pleasurable and seamless experience, and hence a clear separation of content categories comes in handy.
    • The treatment of the content is done differently. E.g. VOD usually is streamed as a web show, tv content, and films, etc.
    • The efficiency of the content discovery process is increased by developing defined areas for premium, short content and providing straightforward navigation for browsing content and discovering content.
    • Language and content type categorization are both clearly defined. E.g., user segment, type of content (Live /VOD).

    Design Framework

    As designs evolve, OTT companies will also have to consider establishing intelligent design frameworks. A good design framework will help in the creation of excellent and usable user-centric products. Though colors and fonts are essential, designing the overall user journey is crucial in the overall platform design. The interfaces are separated into smaller components in an atomic design, making the entire interface broken down into fundamental parts and then built upon.

    The atomic design process is divided into five stages, the first three of which are modeled by their chemistry counterparts. Each step builds on the one before it, functioning as a collection of objects from previous stages.

    Atoms are the lowest unit of UI components and cannot be broken down anymore. Consider them to be building blocks. They are the core elements of our user interface, such as colors, typography, animations, etc.

    Molecules are bound clusters of atoms that have distinct new characteristics. They come together to form a unit of elementary UI components. Examples are form labels, search inputs, buttons, etc.

    Organisms are UI components made of groupings of molecules and/or atoms that are relatively complicated. Most creatures are self-contained and do not require the assistance of other features on the page to function. Navigation, sidebars, forms, and popups are some examples.

    Templates are empty pages that communicate the designs’ underlying content structure. In essence, they mix organisms into a functional website design.

    Pages are unique examples of templates that show how the final UI will look and include real-world material.

    Netflix offering

    UX Journey from research to execution

    AI-based personalized User Journey

     In the era of AI (artificial intelligence), users need a personalized recommendation from OTT platforms. The key to establishing a nice user experience is to build a robust recommendation engine.

    The recommendation algorithm of Netflix, backed by artificial intelligence and machine intelligence, is responsible for most of the  TV series watched on the website.

    Netflix uses artificial intelligence and techniques to assist viewers in moving beyond their preconceived notions and discovering shows that may not have been their primary choice but that they would love. Netflix uses two types of data, i.e. Implicit and explicit data to train its algorithms.

    An example of “explicit data” – The user is clicking a like button for any show. Implicit data is behavior data; for instance, If a user binge-watched any series and finished it in a whole night, the engine treats it with the help of the underlying artificial intelligence and machine intelligence. This data is implicit to the user.

    Netflix offering

    Netflix offering a Personalized UX

Enhancing the User Journey through Intuitive Navigation

It is essential to make the first interaction of the user with the application as simple as possible. Developers should collect the most basic personal information, fewer permissions, and focus on the most crucial functionality and UI elements.  Allowing customers to try out the application before prompting them to subscribe or taking them on a product tour is another way to expedite and improve the process.

Every step of the procedure is made more accessible with the seamless user interface. It is essential in OTT platforms to create not just the experience of finding content but also the experience of consuming it.

  • The user is easily able to view content description, usage, genre, etc.
  • The user can start consuming the content where he/she left off.
  • The player must contain play, pause, forward, backward, rewind, fast forward, etc. Ability to watch content while navigating from one screen to other.
  • The user can toggle subtitles.

Push notifications for devices are an essential component for user engagement, and they help keep visitors engaged with the OTT platform. If push notifications are not targeted correctly or designed correctly or push notification featured is disabled, the users can exit the app.

Consideration for push notifications:

  • Relevant and personalized notification.
  • Must be in user active time zone.
  • Notification must attach to a user action to increase engagement.
  • Less notification not too noisy.
  • Well designed with graphics, catchy heading, and short description.


The importance of UI/UX cannot be overstated in the OTT Platform

More entertainment and media organizations will establish their respective OTT application to engage with their audiences as OTT grows in popularity. Although content variety and quality will be significant in enticing new viewers, the user interface and the journey will be crucial in keeping them glued to the screen. In the future, the OTT business will experience tremendous advancements. The success of any OTT platform will be determined by how easy and enjoyable it is to use.

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