Image credit — TMDb

For your next side project build something you f**king love!

This is my first time writing on Medium. I’ve always wanted to write something but never really felt like I had an interesting enough story to share. This felt like a nice time to start as I’m building my next side project and am going to share the process on here.

Why am I starting another side project

So I had this lightning moment the other night, and actually decided to act on it!

My last side project, Newday, was a lot of fun but ultimately left me unsatisfied. My brother Tom and I worked on it pretty casually for about 6 months with our friend Lorenzo (developer) and launched it to minimal fanfare. The feedback was that it was genuinely a really cool little app, but the problem was it was only available on Android. Only a few of our friends and family are on Android, so the thrill of our friends digging our app never really happened. All we got was ‘is it on iOS’? 😭

Working out why/how I’m going to build this product

For my next project I knew it would be on iOS and would be something that I would fucking love to have. No more ‘this is kinda cool’, no more ‘this might be valuable to this other group of people'. This was going to be my dream app.

I am a mega film geek. I spend hours (and I mean hours) reading about rumours, Easter eggs and trivia for every film I watch. I love discovering that John Travolta’s character, Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction is brothers with Michael Madson’s character, Vic Vega in Reservoir Dogs. That Intertextuality really makes me smile 😋!

My current means of geeking out over film trivia is through IMDb (which is the same for most film fans), as well as generally googling around.

IMDb is fucking amazing, but it is also a beast of an app. I think 90% of my use case for the app is just the trivia section. Which got me thinking, there must be a need for a stand alone film trivia app.

Doing the research

I searched the App Store and all the trivia apps I could find were quizzes. That’s awesome, I love a good quiz, but it’s not at all what I want after watching a movie, which means there’s a market opportunity 🤗.

The friction at this point is obviously content. IMDb has a HUGE community and loads of great people filling even the most obscure film pages with useful titbits.

How do I compete with that? They don’t have an api unfortunately so it got me thinking about maybe user-generated content. Hell I’d probably add content, why wouldn’t others. All the trivia on IMDb is user-generated but obviously they have a huge user base.

Working out the persona (who’s going to use this product)

Without simplifying it too much, the persona is me. Selfishly I want this app to suit my needs and anyone like me. I’m looking for this app to be a nice lifestyle product that fits into the lives of other film geeks.

Joe (that’s me 👋) loves watching movies (at least a few a week) and can’t wait to jump into an app straightaway to read all the Easter eggs and trivia.

Are there others out there like me?

I was convinced that there would be others that would love this app but wanted to put it to the test. I knocked together a Typeform to gauge some initial thoughts from a variety of designers/film fans I know and managed to get 21 responses in a day.

The results were quite surprising but also really valuable. This was my first time using Typeform and have learnt a lot already on the kinds of questions to ask. For example, I only asked whether potential users would pay £1.99 for the app, and not whether they would actually download the app if it was free 🙄. I can assume their answer to the latter from some of the other answers given, but it was a pretty big oversight for me not to ask the question directly.

I’ve added a few of the key findings below but you can check out the form here if you’re interested and let me know your thoughts.

Important to understand whether the respondent could be a potential beta tester (no one got my Harry Knowles reference)
Another method of identifying potential beta testers, also proved that a lot of people love film trivia
Another method of identifying potential beta testers

Deciding what to focus on for the MVP

I want this app to be iterative and launch within the next month (assuming I can find a developer). I’m actually tempted to learn to code this myself but that’s another story. There’s a few different features I’m thinking about, like Search (search for any film you’ve watched or are going to watch), Now Showing (curated movies on at the cinema right now), Add Trivia (user generated trivia), Social Sharing (share the trivia you just added), Upvoting (a method of filtering the best trivia to the top) and even Profiles (do the users need their own profile).

All this takes time, so to work out what to build for the MVP I focused a few questions on that. My gut was that Now Showing would be enough for the MVP but the feedback seems to disagree with me.

For the MVP I want to launch asap. My first thought was to kill Search as it’s a larger feature
For the MVP I was thinking of launching with just what’s currently on at the cinema as I can easily access that data

Selling out

I’m really not interested in building an app, waiting for thousands of people to download it and then slapping ads on it. That doesn’t feel like a win for me with this project. I’d much rather build an awesome app that my specific niche fucking loves and would be willing to pay for.

The feedback on this wasn’t amazing, but I wasn’t overly surprised either. There were a few decent results and that’s all I was hoping for. I know this app isn’t for everyone so that’s kinda cool.

I’m not ashamed to admit I’d like an app that generates revenue 💸 although it seems I might be out of luck

Prototyping

While I’ve been gathering feedback I’ve spent a few hours thinking about the visual tone of the app and building a quick prototype.

The feedback on the prototype is great, people seem to really like the stark black and white cinema sign kinda vibe and love that they can jump straight into the trivia with one tap (Now Showing).

My first prototype to explore style and flow

Thanks for reading about my scrappy process. I’ll try and write another update in a few weeks to share how far I’ve gotten.

If you have any thoughts, give me a shout on Twitter.

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