Authentic Entertainment reports that over-the-top video is set to revolutionise and dominate the media landscape in Australia over the next two years. 65% of Australians already watch short clips, catch-up TV or long-form video online and this is due to rise to 85%.
With an industry that’s set to be worth $10 billion by 2018 it’s crucial that on-demand video companies engage their target users and keep them from signing up with their competitors.
With this in mind, we’re going to analyse the websites of four key players in the Australian video-on-demand market to see how they encourage users to sign-up to their subscription plans, and what improvements they can make to their user journeys and overall user experience.
Global giant, Netflix launched in Australia less than two months ago, yet it’s already used by nearly 20% of Australians and holds the highest brand awareness over its local market competitors at 58%.
Netflix opts for lifestyle hero images that alternate between four different scenes every seven seconds. They appear to be targeting the family market as the first two images are family orientated, whilst the last two feature teenagers, although it’s unlikely that a user would stay on the home page long enough to see them all.
Since almost 90% of 16-24-year-olds watch video online and prefer to stream content over watching traditional television, we wonder whether Netflix could rearrange the order of their hero images to target this particular market. They could make logical assumptions over a user’s age bracket based on, for example, the geographical information from their IP address in order to display an appropriate image.
Their home page also focuses on the convenience of their service, highlighting all of the different devices that Netflix can be streamed through.
Users are enticed by a free month, with reassuring messaging that promises “No commitments, cancel online at any time”, whilst the neutral colour palette ensures that the primary and secondary call to action buttons stand out.
Clicking on the primary call to action to “Start your free month” takes users to a registration page. There are three subscription packages to choose from and the standard package is selected as the default option.
Netflix reminds users they can “Downgrade or upgrade at any time” but this text is the same size and colour as the other text on the page so this messaging is easily overlooked. Likewise, the reminder that users can “Cancel at any time” is somewhat lost in the list of perks available with each package. These are great to persuade a purchase and we feel they could stand out more to turn browsers into customers.
Clicking continue keeps the user on the page and presents them with a simple 2-field form to start the registration process. However, there’s no indication as to how many more steps will follow or what other information will be required. This is particularly confusing as the call to action reads “Register”, implying the end of the sign-up process, yet there is more information the user has to provide before they can start using Netflix. This could make some users uneasy about giving Netflix their email address immediately or put users off completing the registration because it’s unclear how long it will take.
It’s interesting to note that Netflix doesn’t boast about their unique selling point or push what their company can offer their users that their competitors can’t. Instead it’s a somewhat soft sell, focusing on convenience and lifestyle imagery. Perhaps this is the benefit of having a recognisable global brand.
Quickflix opts for one hero image, which, in this case, is a shot of the popular film Fifty Shades of Grey to entice people to sign-up. Directly below this is a 2-field form to “Join Quickflix“.
If users continue to scroll, however, they’re shown more convincers. Users can click through a carousel of ten films intended to provoke a sign-up to the streaming service. It’s interesting that the majority of these films are not new. Whilst Jurassic Park and The Fast and the Furious may appeal to those wishing to re-watch the franchises before seeing the sequels at the cinema, this selection doesn’t necessarily justify a more expensive subscription plan than Netflix.
Quickflix then promotes their service that delivers DVDs and Blu-rays to the user’s address. This is certainly a unique selling point worth expressing. The diagram illustrating the simplicity of the service, alongside the mention that users can “Choose from over 60,000 movie and TV rentals including the latest releases” is somewhat enticing. The imagery thus far has been focusing solely on DVD artwork or a film’s promotional material, but this section instead concentrates on setting the scene of a cup of coffee and a DVD rental.
At the bottom of the page, Quickflix sells its premium movies service showing a carousel of more recent films, before finally showing users the array of devices their films can be watched on.
Clicking on “Join now” mid-way down the home page takes users to a registration page. There are only two fields for users to enter information, yet the amount of text and lack of breathing room makes the form seem more labourous than it is. Quickflix should reduce the size of the text underneath the primary call to action and give the fields some extra margins at the top and bottom to encourage more sign-ups.
Users are then presented with the subscription plans. This is also the page users are taken to immediately if they submitted the 2-field form in the hero section of the home page. This is the first mention of a free trial, something that can hugely influence whether a user signs-up or not. Netflix lets users know about their free trial instantly in their hero section so why has Quickflix left it potentially three pages deep in a user’s journey to start mentioning this offer?
The text describing each subscription plan would be better suited as bullet points, which would make it easier to scan and compare. There’s also no clarification anywhere on the page as to how easy it is to cancel the service, which could prompt users to leave the page or search the site to find answers.
Like Netflix, Stan also chooses to have rotating hero images. There are six shots of a diverse range of popular films and tv shows and one shot of a couple watching Stan on an Apple TV. The images transition every three seconds so it’s likely users will see at least one which may appeal to them.
Users are also shown a 1-field form and urged to “Start your free trial”. This is great, and really pushes for sign-ups. However, it isn’t until below the fold that users on laptops will see how much the service is after the trial so Stan could include this information into the form’s text.
Below the fold Stan highlights its HD streaming service, a $10 subscription price, a no lock-in contract and the ability to watch on three screens at a time. Again, this is great and helps to encourage sign-ups.
As the user scrolls down the page each section is separated by a full-width image featuring a variety of DVD covers. Like the hero images, there’s enough diversity that users will spot something that appeals to them. That said, nothing stands out as being particularly new, but it isn’t clear if Stan doesn’t offer the latest releases or if the image simply hasn’t been updated for a while.
As the user scrolls down the page the menu at the top remains fixed. Stan’s blue is used throughout the page which makes the “Start your free trial” call to action stand out less. They would be wise to choose a secondary colour to give this more contrast.
Stan’s home page manages to capture the company’s personality rather well. The use of sans-serif fonts throughout, colloquial language such as “awesome”, and the final line “BYO internet, data and supported device” makes the company seem personable and approachable.
Clicking on “Start your free trial” in either the hero section or from the top menu presents the user with a pop-up. They make it very clear that users can cancel anytime and there are no lock-in contracts, whilst also indicating the date in which the free trial will end. However, there is no mention as to the number of devices that can be used at once to stream content.
The user can register all within the pop-up without having to do so in steps through multiple pages. The form is also well designed. Whilst there are a lot of fields for the user to fill in, only the necessary ones are included, they have appropriate breathing room, and they span four lines. The call to action at the bottom reads “Start watching” which further convinces the user that the registration process is easy and simple.
Stan is also the only on-demand service out of the four that has just one subscription package and has rounded it up to the nearest dollar. This ties in with their fuss-free website and can certainly appeal to users who are overwhelmed by the multitude of choices the other companies present.
On the other hand, they may be missing out on revenue by not offering a “premium” service that allows users to benefit in some way for an added fee.
Presto has a static image in their hero space. The entire section is made from a single jpeg image instead of including HTML. Even worse, the image doesn’t have an alt tag. This is poor practice and means users accessing through screen readers won’t know what the image is, and for those who have images disabled or have a slow connection, won’t see the image at all. Furthermore, the image is low quality as it’s been optimised for use on the web, which makes the call to action blurry and without any hover effects.
Speaking of call to actions, there are three on the page urging users to sign-up and yet they are all different. The main one in the hero section is white with purple text reading “get it now”, mid-way down the page is a purple button with white text reading “get it here”, and at the bottom of the page is a purple button with white text reading “get it now” that changes to unreadable purple text upon hover.
As a basic rule, all call to actions should be consistent. The text should also let the user know what they should expect on the next page should they click on it. Presto would be better amending these to read “Register now” or “Start your free 30 day trial” as it portrays a lot more information than simply “get it here” and helps to encourage click-throughs.
Presto’s home page is more text-heavy than their competitors. They alternate between sections displaying carousels of their films and sections detailing how their service works. These sections of content also alternate between a dark grey and light grey background, yet these colours are too similar to easily distinguish between the two. At one point, a section’s background changes prematurely and at another the background doesn’t change at all, which just causes a confused flow. Presto should separate their content by adding more padding and using background colours with a stronger contrast.
Mid-way down the home page Presto has outlined their subscription plans. The layout is in a stark contrast to their competitors who have mainly chosen to present this information in clear and separate boxes or grids. Here though the prices don’t stand out as they are hidden within the text. Users are likely to scroll down the page and scan the content so the prices are easily missed as they don’t stand out in size, colour, or position. It’s also hard to compare the subscription plans to each other. Even worse, there is no immediate call to action prompting a user to sign-up at this point. Instead the content is immediately followed by a carousel of tv shows for kids.
Presto has tried to add some personality to the page by not capitalising the start of their headings. Quickflix, on the other hand, use all-caps throughout their user journey for headings. We feel that both approaches backfire somewhat, as no capitalisation makes the company appear less authoritative, whilst too much capitalisation makes them seem less approachable than their competitors. Presto would be wise to use the correct punctuation and choose a second font for their headings to appeal to users.
Furthermore, we’re not convinced that using a size 18px font size throughout is necessary, particularly for terms and conditions. It makes the home page longer and the content harder to scan.
Clicking through any of the “Get it now” or “Get it here” call to actions takes the user through to a registration page. This is a long page with five sections of forms on it that the user has to fill out before finally being able to create their account. Four of the five sections have a black filter over them indicating that they will be accessible after the section before has been completed. This is incredibly laborious and it’s unlikely users would want to continue with registration at this point.
Additionally, the user is first shown negative feedback as the form shows a red arrow asking them to provide their first name. This is likely to invoke frustration as the colour and appearance of inline validation suggests the user has done something wrong when they have only just landed on the page.
When we’ve seen their competitors manage to provide short and concise forms which only feature the necessary fields, it’s clear that Presto can do a lot more to convince users to complete registration.
Although the section is blurry and hidden behind a filter, we can see Presto’s subscription plans displayed in boxes with the information clearly presented in bullet points and the prices standing out in both size and position. Why couldn’t these be used on the home page?
Netflix is the only company that has chosen to use lifestyle imagery in the hero area, intending to show the user their potential future should they sign-up. In contrast, Quickflix, Stan and Presto have opted for DVD artwork or a film’s promotional imagery to push users into buying a subscription. The DVD imagery is certainly informative but it doesn’t leave a lasting impression or portray a sense of the company’s personality.
All companies offer the user a free trial, which is a great persuasive technique. Quickflix, however, doesn’t push this offer at all until the user is potentially three pages deep in their journey.
Stan has pushed their company’s personality well and has the most user-friendly
sign-up form with a minimal amount of fields and the whole effort taking place within one pop-up. Presto, on the other hand, has a disappointing website design and a registration page that is sure to repel most customers from continuing.
When all four companies offer very similar service and all are competing for their share of the $10 billion industry, convincing customers to sign-up with them over their competitors is essential. The key is a streamlined user journey, presenting key information to the user in an easy to read way, and setting your brand apart from the rest.