It was late at night. 

Pro tip: Use landscape mode!

I was scrolling my way down the YouTube rabbit hole when—

Use your keyboard arrows
to watch the story!

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Yes! Something different would be a lifesaver...

...considering how deep I was into the rabbit hole...



—something unexpected appeared...

—Ohh... what is that!

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And... that's no coincidence.

YouTube detected I'd been scrolling for a while—

Seriously... I'm super stoked now... A new world of epic content awaits! {click}

—well played, YouTube!

And now that I think about it...


...Netflix did something very similar recently!

Real-time Personalization

The foundation of a great user experience is to provide value aligned with users' needs at the right time.

So if you can provide a nudge when a behavior isn't completed... just as if the app is listening in real-time (called behavior profiling)1, you're golden.

1Colin Eagan, UX in the Age of Personalization (2019)
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 Huh... aren't these...
sort of the same videos? 

Paradox of Choice

YouTube & Netflix have billions of hours of content on their platform.

That's great because they can appeal to a lot of people. However, the greater the number of choices, the more chances people won't make any.

How many times have you opened Netflix, only to end up watching trailers after trailers?

1Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice (2005)

...And I'm still lost in a sea of content...

...At that point, I rather get lost in my own recommendations...

Let's go back...

Naive... I was.


Elon Musk, new iPhone, Joe Rogan, health tips...

That's disappointing...

{ }

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Discoverability & Feedback

When navigating from one screen to another, the #1 rule should always be to reassure people that they're at the right place and, if not, that they can easily find a way back.1

1Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things (2002)

...uhh... wait... How do I go back now?!?!

Oh No... Is this my new YouTube life?

If you saw this small tag right away, you're a genius... it took me several minutes... of anxiety.

Quick challenge for you:

How would you go back to your previous recommendations? 


Now... How can we make this "looking for something different" experiment better?

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Decoy Effect

It's a lot easier to make a choice when we compare similar things. Our brain can quickly evaluate the differences1 as opposed to when options are different.

1Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (2008)

Like this!

There are 5 major changes here...

1. Fewer options, making it easier to choose...

5. The videos are similar (architecture), but the one on the right is a bit less attractive...

...Less views, longer & harder topic, making this decision easier


4. If you feel lucky, you can always roll the dice (🧠 variable reward) with this button.



2. I can quickly go back if I'm not happy...

3. It's actually new and still related to what I usually watch (design)...





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Now, this design can help people save a ton of time finding content aligned with their interests (which is the humane thing to do) but unfortunately

—YouTube dramatically increased the number of ads recently.

Ads are now—

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—before the video...

...during (and OVER) the video...

...and after the video!

And just when you think you're finally done with ads—

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—they upsell you with their premium offer...


When we perceive that our freedom of behavior is being threatened, we develop an intense emotional response resulting from a restriction of our ability to make decisions.1

If people figure out what YouTube is planning, there's a real chance reactance could impact their overall conversions negatively.

1Wikipedia, Reactance (psychology) (2020)

Psych Level

Customer Journey

Late night. I'm scrolling my night away, not finding anything interesting...

YouTube recognizes I'm not engaged, so it's asking me if I want something different. I'm stoked!

Unfortunately, I got the same experience... Plus, I can't find my way back without a moment of severe anxiety.

Finally, I get bombarded with ads just to realize they're doing so to push their premium offering...

One last thing... are the key moments of YouTube's current journey...

Experience Score


Quick question for you:

Have you also observed YouTube's ad increase lately?

Do you think it's "ethical"?

PS: don't hesitate to comment!

We reply to everyone


You completed Growth.Design's Case Study #031:
"YouTube: The Paradox of Choice"