4 killer examples of personalized UX

Two game controls connected to a human brain.
Image by Mo on Unsplash.

A key component to creating excellent User Experiences is personalized content.

You have been — either consciously or unconsciously — a part of hundreds of personalization experiments. Every time you log in to Netflix to watch some series or scroll down TikTok while going to work.

UX design plays a leading role in creating great first impressions with users. However, personalizing content is not least. Now you might be wondering… is personalization really that important?

According to research from Salesforce, 75% of business buyers expect the companies they buy from to provide personalized experiences, anticipate their individual needs and provide relevant suggestions.

Now you might be wondering… How do you emulate personalization recommendation models for any user at scale? As an example is always worth more than a thousand words, this article attempts to decode 4 companies that are already killing it with personalized customer experiences.

Let’s dig in!

TikTok has become one of the most popular social networks in the last years with overwhelming growth ever since it was first launched in 2016. Personalization has played a key role in its big success.

On TikTok every swipe, search, and scroll counts to figure out what you love and generate an endless personalized world of content especially for you.

Gif showing the scrolling down of TikTok.

TikTok’s algorithm is a system that makes content recommendations personalized for each user. It decides which videos a user might like based on their individual interests and displays them on the users For You page.

As a result, the For You page is highly personalized for each user. Someone who watches a lot of plant caring content will naturally see more recommendations for similar videos. Yet those videos will rarely show up for someone who mostly consumes content related to technology and politics.

Now you may be wondering…. how TikTok knows which content to recommend to you?

Gif showing the logo of tiktok becoming a question mark.
Gif by Cristiam Oliveira

The TikTok algorithm considers a combination of factors about how the user behaves on the app to decide which videos this very same user might like — this includes any like, follow, scrolling time or skipping a TikTok.

This information allows the platform to get a better understanding of the unique preferences of each user and how they change over time. It then ranks videos based on how aligned they are to these behavioral signals.

Everything Netflix does is driven by data and powered by smart AI algorithms. The company is always brainstorming and testing ideas to ensure that whatever is disseminated on its platform matches the exact thought process of its users.

Netflix opening animation.
Gif by netflixlat

This is why its personalization mechanism are doing wonders for Netflix. But what are exactly these personalization mechanisms?

Netflix’s data-driven strategy is mainly based on A/B testing. No one understands this technique better than Netflix. Each of these tests presents two different versions of experiences to users to see how they react and respond to the suggested changes. This is one of the reasons why no two people have the same experience on its platform.

Netflix’s cover images are the perfect example to quote here. These thumbnails are images or video teaser visible to a user browsing through Netflix’s category of recommendations.

Now how can these cards make a difference? The concept is pretty simple.

Images and videos have a greater impact on the minds of customers than the content — understood as written words — drafted around them. People are more likely to watch a video if they are shown images or teasers that are attractive and compelling.

A/B testing these landing cards allows the platform to understand the psychology of its customers, further using the gathered data to personalize their experience in the most effective way possible.

Below you can observe an example of all possible landing covers for Stranger Things. Depending on the user’s characterization, Netflix predicts what cover should be displayed to them in order to maximize the probability they end up watching the show.

All possible landing covers for Netflix’s Stranger things series.
Netflix’s Stranger Things different landing covers.

Further, the company also uses customer data to create unique homepages for each of its users. It shows content it believes would best match the interest of its users as well as enhance their overall experience with the platform.

Everyone uses Spotify. Even people who don’t use Spotify…have thought about using Spotify. Since its launch in 2008, the brand has been an unquestionable success. But how did they get here?

Spotify’s music recommendations are designed to keep users engaged with the platform and consuming music. However, the streaming app’s most effective use of the technology of hyper-personalization lies in the extensive user account customization that has been made possible.

Spotify encourages users to create their own playlists, essentially building an entire library of music on their accounts. Over the past years, I have created many playlists with thousands of tracks assigned to my account — most of them I cannot even recall.

Caption of my library in Spotify. One can observe different albumes made by myself.
Self-made caption of my Spotify’s library.

Today I can’t imagine leaving Spotify and recreating those playlists on another platform — or just losing them altogether. Me as a user have invested way too much time into Spotify and, as a result, I’m locked into paying for a premium account — quite happily, too.

Another of Spotify’s big successes? Spotify Wrapped.

Spotify Wrapped started in 2015 as “Your Year in Music”. Ever since, every December, Spotify sends each of its subscribers a report based on data gathered about their music consumption in the past year.

Music lovers are treated to categories like their 5 most listened artists, the amount of time they spent listening, and fun facts like the first time they listened to their top song. This is hyper-personalization at its finest, as each user is served up a story where they are the main character.

Spotify 2021 wrapped launch.
Spotify’s 2021 wrapped edition.

However, the genius does not stop just here. When subscribers receive their “Wrapped” report, it’s packaged and ready to be shared with their friends in a few clicks. And just like that, Spotify creates a trend.

Is it only me that gets all Instagram feed full of Spotify’s wrapped stories?

Amazon’s Comprehensive Product Recommendation System is one of the best in the world. No one can deny that Amazon has become an unstoppable giant thanks to its shopping recommendation and outstanding personalization algorithms. However, today, I want to deep-dive into Alexa’s service.

Gif simulating Alexa’s lightning.
Gif by Chris Gannon

We’re starting to hear interesting chatter about Zero UI or invisible interfaces. For years, designers have primarily focused on how the product looks and makes a user feel. Alexa marks a shift in this.

Voice — or designing interactions for voice experiences — is the next frontier of UX design. What makes things a little tricky is that it’s essentially invisible and includes no visual elements. Furthermore, talking to a device gets a different — and more personal — feeling. This is why people like personal assistants and expect them to be more human than any other electronic device like a laptop or a phone.

Alexa doesn’t need to look pretty or have a ton of brains tucked away behind its speakers — it just needs to hear me clearly and deliver the information I am requiring.

The convenience of these voice assistants gets an upgrade with Amazon Alexa profiles, which can distinguish between speakers sharing an Amazon account. With the technology, different people can ask Alexa for information about their Amazon account or any other personalized information without logging in and out. Alexa can detect who is speaking and ask to send information to that person’s mobile phone.

The result is a convenient, personalized experience with our personal voice assistant.

With over a thousand companies competing in the online marketplace, one thing that makes TikTok, Netflix, Spotify and Amazon the companies to get inspired from is their constant hunger to evolve and the hyper-personalization of their products.

Modern consumers do not only expect their service to be the best — but to be the best for them.

This is why learning from their experience and the way they’ve dived deep into the concept of personalization can help you grow exponentially and carve a niche for yourself in today’s customer-driven market.

Just feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

Categorized as UX Tagged

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