Online media should be artwork

In a world cluttered with advertisements, commercials, posters and new products, good design remains paramount for success.

According to a report published by the Wall Street Journal, YouTube alone now hosts over one billion hours of daily viewing, with 400 hours of new content uploaded every minute.

Internet video platform’s are moving into a new era of prominence, which means that the design needs of digital content have changed. Netflix Product Creative Design Manager Steven Gianakouros led a presentation at South by Southwest titled, “Your Movie Poster Doesn’t Matter,” arguing that traditional poster designs only remain for vanity. According to Gianakouros, movie posters originally had one purpose: “to attract your attention when you walked around outside the theatre.”

Today, the online experience demands intentional refinement to capture the fleeting attention of consumers. The inundation of available content on the internet means that customers must be able connect with the content, and they must do it quickly. What has traditionally worked in the past may not be the most effective method of reaching modern consumers. Resizing a traditional movie poster to fit a smaller thumbnail online will not drive consumers to the content in a way that natively-generated content will.

Even with this knowledge, content creators have not found a new formula for what does successfully reach their audiences. Gianakouros said that consumer research studies at Netflix produced results that drive their current focus on design.

“Artwork was not only the biggest influencer to a member’s decision to watch content, but it also accounted for 80 percent of their focus while browsing Netflix,” Gianakouros said.

He also said that they still have very little idea what types of artwork will translate into the most members actually watching the content. On a scale ranging from simple designs to elaborate constructions made with the latest talent costing over $100,000, Netflix has found that each iteration of a design will consistently perform inconsistently in different global markets.

Under all of this lies the idea that design will always be important. Even if its form must change to accommodate its purpose, being able to communicate well through solid design is a critical skill. As a young creative professional, I have spent many hours in class and out learning the principles of modern design.

These principles shape society so we are able to communicate and connect in the best way possible. While some older ideas of design have faded away, replaced by new trends and preferences, there will never be a time when good design dies. It is therefore our responsibility to keep pushing the limits of creativity, both in movie poster design and in other works of art. By getting behind a camera, picking up a paintbrush or designing with digital tools, we are exploring what works best to connect with the people around us.