Good design means good business: five ways to make your OTT service stand out

Content is king, and its queen is design. Make your OTT service stand out by adopting the right design principles.

Over-the-top services are everywhere, from the smartphones we use day in day out to our TV’s when we finally put the smartphones down… or don’t. And all devices in between.

It comes as no surprise that the global OTT market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 19.1%. The turmoil generated by Covid-19 hasn’t stopped an impressive year-on-year growth of a market that’s predicted to surpass $438.5 billion by 2026.

The competition for eyeballs is getting fiercer and fiercer, with rights owners and rights holders battling on a daily basis to win new audiences over. This is when success becomes a matter of details, and where a solid UI needs to be accompanied by extremely impactful UX. One that’s smartly conceived, and beautifully designed.

There are (at least) five design-led ways your OTT service will stand out from the competition. Have a look here.

#1. To gate or not to gate

Know your audience, or potential audience. Don’t force them to spend their hard earned money without knowing exactly what they are getting in return first; we are talking about gated content. The Netflix and Amazon Prime’s of this world are able to throw a subscription wall up on initial app load because it’s likely that you are heading there as a destination because your friend has told you to watch Clarkson’s Farm or that you need to binge on RuPaul's Drag Race.

At Simplestream we like to encourage a more friendly and open UX, allowing users to explore all your brand has to offer and highlighting free content to let your users dip their toes in the water before they take the plunge. This not only reduces the ums and ahs of the unknown but also garners trust in your brand as you lay bare your content for all to see.

#2. Navigation

You know what it’s like when you’ve been browsing for 10 minutes and the takeaway you’re meant to be eating whilst watching is starting to go cold. Navigation and clear architecture is key to finding what you are interested in. 

Leaving recommendations and other data-led aspects aside for a minute, well-organised sections should be used to allow users to find the right content, whatever avenue they choose to come at it from. Categorising and sub-categorising your content really allows users to drill down into the niche area of content that they, the user is interested in.

#3. Consistency across multiple platforms

When it comes to OTT platforms – and streaming services in general – a consistent experience across all platforms has become the expected norm. Nobody wishes to familiarise with an app on a Smart TV and then feel completely disoriented when accessing their favourite show on the go on a smartphone. 

As our proprietary App Platform has matured we have never been better placed to give users the same great UX across our plethora of platforms including iOS, Android, tvOS, Android TV, Fire TV, Hybrid TV and Roku.

#4. Imagery is (almost) everything 

Netflix as an example has a rich and premium feel, not only due to their blockbuster content, but also due to investment in high quality imagery. It allows users to cut through the noise when looking for their next binge worthy title. For instance, using quality hero imagery with titles baked into the images allows you to turn off app driven metadata in Media Manager, creating clean, horizontal playlists users are all too familiar with scrolling or navigating.

#5. Keep things fresh

Make sure your content doesn’t become stagnant over time, mix it up, this way each time your user opens the app they have the possibility of being presented with brand new content (if only to them rather than the service). This is a sure fire way to tip your users ‘stickiness’ in the right direction.

Keeping your content fresh also means staying topical, this might require you to re-work some artwork or to quickly create a new playlist on the go to maximise the chance of users delving deeper into your content. By using Simplestream’s Media Manager to power your apps, creating new playlists and replacing artwork can happen in just a few clicks as you watch your changes propagate across all your platforms in minutes

Closing thoughts

Content is king. And its queen is design. It’s the key that can open the gate to good business, as T. J. Watson Jr wisely stated now more than half a century ago. As technology keeps paving the way to deeper and more customisable experiences for the end-user, we cannot stress enough the importance of blending content and design as complementary elements of a functional kingdom. 

A flexible infrastructure, supported by seamless design patterns, are key to gaining your audience’s trust and long-term loyalty. Your OTT service will stand out, and your design efforts will turn into great business achievements. Guaranteed.