- Personal project
- UI/UX design
Rethinking the internet movie database
The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is one of the world's most popular sources for movie, TV and celebrity content with more than 100 million unique visitors per month. Obviously the web and its users have changed drastically since the emergence of the internet. In this process the user has become more demanding on usability and appearance. Anyway, the website has not been redefined for the past fifteen years.
Good to know
IMDb has been founded in 1990 by Col Needham - that means the website is older than the web. How is this even possible? As Needham has a passion about movies, he long kept track of the details about every movie he watched. In 1990 he “published a series of scripts which allowed you to search a lists of credits collected by a wonderful USENET group.“ A few years later, he moved the database to the web.
Back to the core
Focus can be the biggest hurdle when working on a product. Actually, it is a common problem among designers to focus too much on the UI part and to completely ignore the UX and functionality of a product. During my research I saw countless IMDb redesigns, which were designed to impress their peers rather than solving real problems.
In order to not get trapped with the same issues, I put down three major points that I consider to be of major importance to IMDb users and myself:
Creation of a clear and comprehensible content and navigation structure that feels natural and intuitive to users.
Engagement of users to interact more, while not overwhelming them with data.
Development of a flexible system that deals with all data from the existing and future database and display it in a consistent and logical manner.
In the past fifteen years the Internet Movie Database became more than just a database, which you could drill down to its content: It's a place to search, discover, rent and buy movies, expose yourself to new ideas, read news, etc.
The major problem is: They are trying too much! Certainly, it is the principle of a database that every single entry is of importance but IMDb actually focuses on too many things at a time. IMDb needs to prioritize more its core features.
UX and Design Principles
After strictly analyzing the current imdb.com, I spent a couple of hours sketching and trying out different interaction models. I usually create some sketches, before diving into any of the specifics. The main goals were to simplify the site map, as much as possible, and to get a feel for the behavior of the interaction.
Wireframing and Prototyping
Right after doing some sketches I started Wireframing and low-fi Prototyping in order to test and validate the concept I just created. I wanted to keep all transition as logical and functional as possible, so finally I ended up with the following results:
Transition to/between detail views
Transition to media view
In order to develop a system, that is flexible enough to deal with all the existing and new data from IMDb's database, I choose a modular layout. As it is all about being responsive without limitations, I created three optimized grids for desktop, tablet and mobile.
A endless scrolling wall of content becomes overwhelming, so I created some natural breaks to help alleviate this. These areas could be used to promote events, movies or people - one of IMDb's greatest revenue streams -, or just to introduce topics of your interest.
Colors & typeface
To keep the iconic and well-known appearance, I just slightly adjusted the old color scheme in order to create a more modern and contemporary look.
I spent a lot of time selecting the right typeface. I ended up using Open Sans, which is pretty ubiquitous, but creates a neutral and friendly appearance, while representing the simplicity of IMDb. In addition using Open Sans ensures a good readability across all screen densities and being available in most alphabets.