MoviePal

Andy Morris
May 7, 2018 · 8 min read

In A World… Where Coordinating Movie Nights Can Be Epic

Whether you enjoy going to the movies as an escape from the daily-grind or making a night of it with pre-dinner and post-cocktails, organizing a movie night with friends can see all the drama, tragedy and comedy as any epic tale.

Amid busier schedules, escalating ticket prices, and the ever increasing use of technology to organize and facilitate gatherings, along with my agile teammates, Mary Rizaldo, Diego Mas González, and Ricardo Ortiz, we aimed to uncover a solution to help modern movie-goers better coordinate movie outings together.

We first began this epic with the assumption that people were going to the movies less often than they had 15–20 years ago. We also assumed that with the assortment of new technologies, like internet streaming services and pirating content through torrents, people were more apt to stay at home to watch their favorite films instead of heading to the latest release in theaters.

So, how might we bring the theater experience home and provide that audience with the films currently showing in theaters in a legal and accessible way? Considering the legal constraints of movie-studios and the possibility of killing off an already declining theater industry, we’d eventually come to realize we couldn’t (to be continued…).

And like every good plot, we had a twist.

Though we sent our initial problem statement to our instructors to be green-lit, they returned not once, but twice for us to reimagine the problem space.

Once we finally received a green-light, we conducted a screener survey, a round of user interviews and contextual inquiries, then began mapping out our insights. It wasn’t until several rounds of affinity mapping later that we rediscovered that we were right back where we had started — trying to marry two separate problem spaces with a one solution fix.

It seemed as though no amount of direction from our instructors was going to deter us from our initial assumptions. For us, as junior UX designers, we had to figure this out on our own — and we were thankful enough to trust the process in reaching this outcome by dropping the case for at-home-entertainment viewers and focus solely on the movie-goer.

Once we freed ourselves from the burden of trying to “make ‘Fetch’ happen” (it wasn’t going to happen), we swiftly resolved to move forward by salvaging what initial insights we could and updated our screener survey with our primary focus on movie-goers and their movie-going habits.

In doing so, we realized that even though folks don’t go to the movies as often as they used to, they are still going and they’re spending big bucks on tickets and concessions, and plenty of time coordinating with friends and family to see the occasional epic or a culturally significant film. We also discovered that people saw going to the movies as an event in-and-of itself — that it wasn’t just what movie they were going to see, but that the whole process of going to the movies, from choosing a film to organizing friends to go with, to getting to the theater and going out afterwards, was the event.

Now, with a new, more robust screener survey out and a second round of user interviews, plus the contextual insights gathered from area theaters, our problem space was found:

From here, we realized a solution to solving the woes of our users fast-paced, modern world, by creating a hybrid-mobile platform for groups to successfully plan and culminate a movie night with friends and family.

Through insights, we discovered our persona, Aimie. Aimie has traditionally gone to the movies in family-outings as a kid and now, as an adult, enjoys continuing the tradition by planning movie-outings with her friends.

Currently, Aimie finds herself struggling to reach consensus amongst friends on which movies to see and often finds herself doing all of the planning herself. She gets great joy out of organizing and setting up group events, but is annoyed at the variation of methods used to communicate with her friends, for example, some friends use Facebook Messenger while others use iMessage and others. There is also no current way for Aimie to plan and organize friends for a movie night through any of the movie listing and ticket purchasing apps like, Fandango or MoviePass — Aimie is constantly having to copy, paste and send movie links and trailers to her friends.

Our solution was to create a path for Aimie and her friends to actively participate in creating a movie-night together through our mobile-hybrid.

In addition to cultivating our persona, Aimie, through user interviews and insights, we scoped the current market and the various competitors and comparators that are in the business of social as well as those in the movie-listing and ticketing sector.

Here we would find that messaging services used like, iMessage and Facebook Messenger were direct competitors to our model and that Fandango and MoviePass were highly used utilities within the industry for those searching and purchasing movie tickets. However, with that said, neither comp. was focussed or featured the desire to connect the two.

Here’s where MoviePal makes it’s feature debut.

Now Presenting: MoviePal.

Considering all steps (Trigger, Action, Variable Rewards, Investment) within The Hook Model, MoviePal marries social-connection and communications with content-listings and purchasing in one space, without the need to use multiple messaging platforms and additional ticketing apps to coordinate a successful movie-night with friends.

  • Our trigger encourages users to invite others to their event listing, while invites and RSVPs show up as push notifications to invitees.
  • Users take action by responding to invites and voting on which movie to see.
  • The variable reward is illustrated by voting and participating in the group chat forum.
  • Users commit to investment by accepting the invite and returning to vote and again to discuss in the forum and eventually to making a ticket purchase.

Our first low-to-mid fidelity iterations focused on the user as if they were creating an event to which they would invite friends to join. What made this system different from something like Facebook Events, is that this was to be specific to choosing a movie and not open to any number of events or to the public. The platform also includes a feature where “invitees” are encouraged to vote on a selection of films to see — creating an experience of democratization that encourages user investment based on the Hook Model.

Through user testing, initial reactions to the concept was positive, though users wanted more information regarding the level of democratization each user had, and if there was a minimum or maximum number of movies that could be selected per “event”. Users were also confused regarding basic hierarchy and general questions of navigation that we would solve for in our next iterations.

Additional mid-fidelity testing begged several questions: Users wanted to know how the Invitee would interact with the page; users wanted to know what would happen if there was a tiebreaker in the movie-voting process, and how the payment would work within a group setting — if purchases could be split amongst users and if something like a Venmo partnership would be included.

Addressing these concerns, we developed a high-fidelity prototype, which also considered how a user might sync their contacts and also encouraged users to communicate directly through the app via the chat-messaging feature to better coordinate their movie-night.

Hi-Fi Prototype Link: https://invis.io/NFI2EO6H395

Though payment services like, Venmo were mentioned, our main partnership considers Fandango as a primary partner. 53% of those surveyed and interviewed said they use Fandango to search movie listings, while 71% use mobile (websites and native apps) to search and purchase their movie tickets. Since MoviePal seeks to solve the social coordination problem-space within selecting a movie for a group of people, Fandango’s platform would allow us to merge our mobile-hybrid solution with a service people already use, bringing the planning of movie nights and the purchasing of movie tickets — together.

With a plethora of possible features and partnerships including, integrated ride-share services like Uber to get movie-goers to the theater on-time, if given more time and the opportunity to further develop MoviePal, we would encourage stakeholders to facilitate investment in this concept by encouraging the following additional next steps:

Andy Morris

Written by

DJ and Graphic Designer turned UX/UI Designer/Researcher: www.andymorrisdesign.com