Fed up with Netflix, we decided to build a new movie recommendation system. Here’s how it went.

As an experiment we decided to create NextMovie, a concept website that makes film-lovers’ dreams come true, using our UX design methods. It provides intuitive journeys of discovery based on your mood and personal film tastes, resulting in unique recommendations at the end of your journey.

Personas evolved from individual stories

We all love films here at UX studio and have a strong opinion on what a good movie is, but each of us discovers our next movie via different paths and in different contexts. While some of our team-members adore Netflix and Hulu, others really hate it and keep struggling with IMDb trying to find the next movie to watch.

Firstly we just wanted to listen and understand users’ stories:

  • how they choose their next movie
  • what their motivations are and in which situation they choose films instead of something else
  • what their experiences are when they watch a film.

Web surfing is not as fun as it sounds, so we wanted to understand users’ main decision points and all the pain points that frustrate them during the time they spend searching for new films.

To learn from our ‘competitors’ we carried out user tests on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes.

As we talked with film bloggers and casual film consumers three different personas evolved:

  • someone with advanced knowledge of film culture, who watches movies for personal development, reads reviews and has really complex opinions. He/she continuously develops a list of films to watch.
  • ‘torrent topsiders’, who watch movies to banish boredom, and can even fall asleep during the most exciting plot twists
  • quality conscious film viewers, who have a well-defined taste and don’t want to watch the latest Chuck Norris movies.

(By the way, feel free to use our persona template whenever you need it!)

But there was something common in all of them: they all want more than just an intelligent page. They want to have emotionally intelligent recommendations which mirror their moods, thoughts and social values.

User journey: Graphics and mental interpretation of the overall story from an individual’s perspective

We discussed potential user journeys step by step, in a similar way to a storyboard. We highlighted users’ thoughts, steps and ideas, and all nuances and details associated with their experience. The story is told from the users’ perspective but also emphasizes the important intersections between user expectations and website requirements.

The first paper than online wireframes and finally detailed design

Having spent some time on interviews, tests and user journeys, we knew what we want to provide:

  • guided reviews and personalized score systems based on critics’, users’ and friends’ reviews.
  • recommendations designed for the user’s personality
  • create different lists with films to watch and keep them in one place.

The website content would be built up via the interactions of users with the site:

  • filter already’ watched films to make film searcher easier and quicker
  • browse films by personal experiences: mood, plot, location etc.
  • provide feedback for better recommendations: add films to the list, give instant feedback and write reviews will result in a better and more precise recommendation.

1. Brainstorming

Designers started with basic sketching and some paper prototyping at the early stage of the design process. Various sketches and wireframes were drawn to provide different solutions for each design problem.

2. Later colors were introduced

we designed different variations for ‘look and feel’, and tested them on users.

3. Detailed design

We ended up with the light background above, so the last step was to finalize the details and the interaction divine design  (how the ‘look and feel’ works).

The concept was created by two designers and one researcher from UXStudio.

We spent 24 working hours in total:

  • user interviews (2h)
  • persona creation (1h)
  • user journey (1h)
  • paper and online wireframe design (6h)
  • user test (1h)
  • look and feel (6h)
  • detailed design (7h)
  • and of course, some extra time writing this post.

As we all know 24 working hours are not enough to ‘reinvent the wheel’, but we love learning by doing and very happy with the results of our work: a concept for film recommendation site which we felt was truly responsive to the users’ personalities.