Refection based video streaming

Umeå Institute of Design – 2019, 4 weeks
Team with Selvi Olgac

We explored how we can build awareness and friction into our video consumption as a way to not over-consume or get stuck in the dark patterns of the video service.

Our video consumption accounts for 82% of the entire internet’s carbon emission levels.

Streaming video and audio are the biggest drivers of explosive data growth. Many video streaming services today are designed for an efficient and seamless user experience, to keep users on the platform for as long as possible. Dark patterns implemented in the design of these platforms ensure that there is no room for users to reflect on what, how, and why they’re consuming the given content.

What would happen if we add friction to this model? Can we trigger a different thought process when streaming online?

“I always have youtube on in the background listening to nature sounds when working. Nothing with too much movement so I won’t get distracted.”

– Wenting, design student

What would you prioritise?

By asking, “what is the aim of your video consumption today?” we are making the user take a stance and reflect upon their consumption. The parameters depend on each 

other, and changing one will affect the rest. For example, by changing the carbon emission, the image quality might decrease, or the watch time will become shorter.

Watch time?

Image or sound quality?


From dark patterns to reflection patterns

By looking at the entire journey, we could identify existing dark patterns and moments where we could add friction. This way, seemingly simple prompts could add to the reflective user journey and shift dark patterns into reflection patterns. We decided to pause the video after the set time and ask if the user want to continue watching.

Creating awareness of your digital carbon footprint.

We designed Reflect to challenge the idea that everything needs to become optimised for efficiency and seamlessness. While these parameters are great for the easy user experience, it’s encouraging us to consume rather than reflect. We wanted to give this reflection back to the user to change the thought-model of why, what, and how we’re consuming video content. For the users wellbeing and the planet’s.

Probe and prototype 
driven process

We experimented with different methods to design something that’s not meant to be a smooth user experience but rather to create friction. By mapping out the current journey we found where we could add friction. Probes 

and prototypes where used to trigger reactions from users and to start discussions about what’s important in these types of designs. These discussions acted as stepping stones to each new iteration.

Prototyping friction – playing poker with youtube

Some probes were based on questions such as; on what parameters we prioritise things and how it feels to play poker with youtube or negotiate with yourself. It raised questions about who has and who should have the power, but also concerns about what is an okay behaviour and who decides that.

Goals and contexts decides

An interesting observation was the importance of context. People change their behaviour based on the context. Depending on their goal with the session they choose a video that fit that situation. For instance, while eating breakfast, one participant always picks a video that’s no longer than 15 minutes. That was all the time she had in the morning.

Curious for more details?

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