The topic question I chose for my bachelor thesis was: “How to create a better user experience when redesigning a website”. In the practical part of my design I decided to redesign the Internet Movie Database’s website (). The goal was to learn more about UX-Design and its process of involving the users to create a good user experience.
My process started with reading the book “The User Experience Team of One” by Leah Buley. The book presents various activities and methods that helps you throughout the process of creating a better user experience for your product. My first activity was to set up an UX Project Plan, organizing the methods and activities for each sections in my process, and estimating the duration of each activities and what kind of output you are going to get from said activities.
After creating my UX Project Plan, I decided to conduct a SWOT-Analysis mainly to find out what areas of the website that needed the most attention. This can help highlight weaknesses and create a discussion on how to turn them into strengths. It can also help you create hypothesis for possible improvements.
Qualitative User Interviews are a great way for testing out whether your design hypothesis from the SWOT-Analysis are true from a user’s standpoint. What designers and engineers see as pain points aren’t necessarily that painful for people. I incorporate techniques from the book “Interviewing Users” by Steve Portigal into my interviewing process, where I learned how to extract the right information from my participants.
One of the weaknesses I noted in my SWOT-Analysis and later confirmed during the user interviews, was that the users perception of the IMDb’s brand was not optimal. A majority of the participants viewed them as outdated, and having a plain and typical “corporative” look. Most of the participants trusted the brand, but when the website was shown to people that didn’t know much about IMDb, their credibility dropped.
I started looking into IMDb’s history to gain a better understanding about the brand. IMDb was created by Col Needham, a computer science student, as a personal database for movies he had seen. After being contacted by Robert Hill, a computer science student at Cardiff University, he agreed to upload the database onto the World Wide Web at the very start of its existence. The WWW had only a handful of websites on it by this time, with IMDb being one of the first. Therefore I wanted to bring IMDb back to its digital roots, creating an identity that represents the brands digital and innovative history. Updating it’s font to a modern sans serif called Gordita, designing text effects that emulates how a screen works, creating a design system and identity that IMDb could bring with them into the future.
IMDb’s website not being responsive was considered as a big weakness in the SWOT-Analysis, and later confirmed during the User Research. The original static interface with huge margins on both sides was considered to be an outdated design by the users and made some users feel like the design was too cluttered with information. Because of the margins the users were grouping the whole website into one larger whole. My solution to this was to spread out the use of whitespace. The new grid have wider columns than the IMDb’s old grid, making the pictures of actors, movies and tv-shows bigger, which also was an issue for the participants.
IMDb’s current landing page focuses on videos and news articles covering movies, tv-shows and actors even though the participants from the user interviews informed me that they rarely viewed that information. What they did find interesting was trailers and upcoming movies from actors or directors they liked. Because of this, I decided to completely reinvent the landing page. A few participants also expressed that they didn’t see any reason for creating a user profile, because of the lacking benefits they got from it. My goal was to create a home page that satisfied the users need for information about upcoming movies, in addition to create a reason for them to create a user profile.
I went through the most design iterations on the landing page, working closely together with my participants in order to come up with a solution that was relevant for the users. My idea was to create a news feed in order for the users to keep themselves up do date about what movies and tv-shows their favorite actors, directors, writers and cinematographers were releasing. The challenge was being able to design a home page that would be personalized for the people that had registered a user profile, but also worked similar for people that didn’t register a profile.