Reimagining MUBI for iPhone and iPad
MUBI’s iOS app has been, until now, deliberately focused on providing a simple video consumption experience to its subscribers on-the-go.
It offered none of the auxiliary pieces of content offered on mubi.com (no specials, no cast, only friends’ ratings, no reviews, no Notebook articles), nor did it allow access to any of the 150.000+ films in MUBI’s database beyond the currently now showing selection.
Offline playback, the app’s second most popular feature, lacked a central, consolidated view, making download cueing and later retrieval cumbersome, especially when having travelled to another country with a different set of 30 films.
It was in front of this backdrop that we decided in August 2016 to double-down on iOS and reimagine the mobile experience with two objectives:
- Engage: Expand the feature scope of the app to be useful for more users more often, including non-subscribers. Success would be measured by number of daily active recurring user sessions.
- Delight: Redesign the UI to leverage the rich visual possibilities of iOS and its APIs. Success would be measured by whether and how extensively Apple features MUBI in the App Store internationally.
- Make downloads a first-class feature with instant access from anywhere inside the app and with easy cue and storage management.
- Add a watch list as a first-class feature, allowing users to log any film they want to watch, powered by MUBI’s enormous film database.
- Give MUBI’s curated specials prominent treatment and link to other films that are part of the same special.
- Display auxiliary content like awards list, cast & crew portraits, related articles from the MUBI Notebook and the most interesting community reviews.
- Display expired films that the user previously interacted with, so she can still rate & review and recommend them to friends.
- Add support for content discovery outside the app via Universal Search and Apple’s “TV” app.
- Add support for 3D Touch and picture-in-picture (PiP) playback.
Design and UX excellence has always been a part of MUBI’s DNA and traditionally MUBI’s process heavily involved the input and required the sign-off of our creative director and our CEO.
Where this approach falls short is in exploiting the breadth of expertise of our developers, consulting them late in the game. And it slows down the pace at which our visual designers can address new questions that arise as we weed through the implementation details during development.
For this project we came together as a small, cross-functional team of three, sharing one office room and one Slack channel. Every suggestion and every solution would be critically discussed and swiftly decided upon internally.
Any team this small should be operating at high efficiency. But you also get higher quality results and a more motivated team when each member has enough confidence in their own abilities and enough trust in their peers to allow for free critical thinking and creative problem solving.
The product manager was in charge of protecting this circle of trust and its momentum while updating stakeholders on the progress and reintroducing their critical feedback into our thinking. Feedback rounds were done one-on-one in order to get a broad set of ideas and minimise consensus bias.
On our targeted deadline, November 30th 2016, we submitted an initial version of MUBI’s new app for iOS to Apple. It does not contain all the features outlined above but, in true agile fashion, we made sure to include the most important features first and deliver them with the degree of polish our users expect from MUBI. It will also take a few further minor version updates until we can fully deliver on our objective to delight.
In the meantime, the fresh round of user feedback we look forward to collecting will help us take those steps all the better informed.