How Netflix inclusively designs at scale for their 200M subscriber audience

4 min read
Eli Woolery
  •  Mar 5, 2021
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Netflix serves more than 200 million subscribers. Creating an exceptional viewing experience for that many people is a solid design task in itself. But add in the fact that subscribers not only lie across different geographies, but cultures as well, and the task turns herculean. The key to good design at scale in this case? The right team.

Steve Johnson, vice president of design at Netflix, and Rochelle King, vice president of creative production, joined us on the latest episode of the Design Better Podcast to discuss their team’s approach to inclusive design for a global audience.

When it comes to hiring, Johnson suggests not limiting your search to applicants from design and engineering schools. Looking for passion rather than credentials might help you find your next great hire. Open up the process to consider freelance artists who didn’t go to college. Or you can find passionate, talented individuals on TikTok and Instagram, he says. They’ve already got the heart and the passion, which is hard to teach. From there, you just need to help them translate what they’ve done on social media into an interface.

Take, for example, how this hiring practice affected how global genres are categorized at Netflix. Grouping all Korean dramas into one category might seem to make sense from an outsider’s perspective. But, because the Netflix team has members who are not only familiar with the content but love it deeply, King says, they quickly found this was not the right approach. Instead, they came up with more nuanced sub-genres, like chaebol dramas, creating a more authentic experience for their users.

“You have to build an organization that is as reflective of your target audience as humanly possible,” says Johnson.

Want to hear more about Netflix’s inclusive approach?

From learning about the ROI of inclusive design to how to the team approaches the power dynamics between product and design, check out Rochelle and Steve’s interview on the Design Better Podcast.

Listen to the full episode here

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