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DirecTV Online

Usability Testing: Streaming and On Demand Content

  • Client: DirecTV
  • | Team of 5
  • | 3 months (01/2017 – 04/2017)

This project focused on the needs assessment and usability evaluation across two age demographics for DirecTV’s online streaming service, DirecTV Online. At the end, we communicated 4 takeaways and recommended solutions with graphs, highlight videos, and slide decks.

User Experience Researcher
  • Designed the studies with the team
  • Helped participants recruiting
  • Conducted interviews, comparative analysis, heuristic evaluation and usability testing
  • Handled logistics aspects of user testing
  • Analyzed the results with the team
  • Wrote the usability testing report

Background: Retain existing senior customers while acquiring new millennial customers

User Experience Researcher at DirecTV expressed that millennials, individuals 17-32, were “a big focus point for the company”, and users 60+ were the majority of DirecTV subscribers. She stated that we should focus on basic television watching tasks, such as: finding relevant content, playing content, and recording content to a DVR for viewing at a later time.

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Business Decision Problems

  1. From folks within those age ranges, what are their needs and desires?
  2. For DirecTV Online, what works? What doesn’t work? What and how could be improved?


Understand existing and potential users’ current habits, what they desire from television and online streaming services and the usability issues on current DirecTV website.


How we got the insights

Research Questions

  • What are both population’s general habits and desires in online streaming services? Are the results representative?
  • What are general market landscape and best practices that have been adopted in the industry?
  • What areas can be improved on the current website, especially focus on the major features and differentiators of the DirecTV’s product?


We conducted interviews, comparative analysis and survey to assess users’ needs. We conducted 6 usability tests and heuristic evaluation to evaluate the current websites.


Challenge #1: Decide the proper tasks and deal with the logistical issues
💪 What did we do?

The pilot test helped us a lot to clarify task and questionnaire language, and determine whether the technical setting and data logging were functioning.

Challenge #2: Participants went too far from tasks
💪 What did we do?

Moderators need to decide when to guide participants back to the study.

Surprise: Different mental models on streaming services

User 60+
  • Different streaming services as regular cable channels, such as Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Hulu
  • Watched the most television, but use it as a mindless background activity
  • A good variety of content
Millennial Users
  • Set up for people who used to use TV and trying to get into things online versus who are more familiar stuff online
  • Television usage varied due to a variety of factors such as work or school
  • Not enough content
It [DirecTV Online]’s challenging for people who used to watch online like Youtube, because it needs more steps and thinking.

— Participant from usability testing

Final Deliverables

After each study, we created a report, used slide decks, a summarized video to communicate the key takeaways and recommendation.


What I've Learned

Lessons learned

  • Hard to do follow-up questions in usability testing: the moderator focus on making the process smoothly. This is the biggest difference compared to a pure interview which moderator focus on conversation, so it's really important to prepare in advance.
  • Logistics for usability testing and the value of pilot tests: for example, considering mobile notification setting during testing, avoid disclosing and recording privacy information, avoid "expert" tester.
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