November 14th, 2006
You may have seen one of my recent presentations where I talk about the failure of Blockbuster to win at the home-delivered DVD game. In this presentation, I’ll often take a show of hands, first asking people if they participate in Blockbuster’s program, then asking them if they participate in Netflix’s program. Usually, I get only one or two people, if any, who say they participate in Blockbuster’s program. (In contrast, almost everyone raises hands for Netflix.)
Recently, I was stunned at one presentation when several dozen people said they subscribed to Blockbuster. I was even more surprised because
of where I was at the time: in the main auditorium of Netflix’s corporate headquarters addressing a hundred of their designers and developers.
Josh Porter and I were on a swing through Silicon Valley when we had a chance to visit Netflix in their new headquarters. As soon as you pull in the driveway, you can tell these people really like their movies.
The building has an old So-Cal movie studio motif and the front lobby feels like you’re walking on celluloid. They’ve named every conference room after a film, complete with etched imagery in the glass. (The larger-than-life image of Tim Curry’s Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the window of the Rocky Horror Picture Show room is astonishing.) Even the bathrooms are named for film personalities (the first floor as Fred and Ginger; the second floor has Boris and Natasha).
I think this speaks to Netflix’s success. These folks live and breathe movies. They start many of their staff meetings with a discussion of movies.
However, they don’t just subscribe to their own service, which they get free. Many also subscribe to their competitor’s service.
The folks at Netflix really understand what it takes to make a culture that supports successful experience design. We were quick to notice the quality of the people they’ve assembled on their team and the culture they’ve built to create a great design.
All of that has paid off. Netflix is a darling of the high-tech world, showing how, in less than a decade, you can create a new type of business and beat the established, entrenched players. (Netflix is now twice the market cap of Blockbuster, having regularly shown a profit while Blockbuster regularly shows losses.)
For today’s UIEtips, Josh Porter describes one aspect of Netflix’s culture responsible for their success: Fast iterations. Because they are constantly trying new ideas, they can quickly outmaneuver their competition and stay ahead of the game.
Is your culture accepting of iterating quickly? Do you face obstacles getting designs in front of users rapidly? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment and join the discussion below
[Overcoming the challenges of web-based applications is exactly why we've put together the UIE Web App Summit, in Monterey, CA on January 21-23, 2007. We've assembled an amazing team of speakers, all of whom have overcome some significant challenges in some very creative ways. You don't want to miss out. See the summit website for more details.]Tweet