What’s new? Why the change? An insight into Fandor’s newest website update.
This post was written by Mark Borden, Fandor’s Product Manager. Mark’s favorite Fandor film is Today’s Special.
Following the successful introduction of our new film page, Fandor is launching a new homepage experience for logged-in members on our website.* We think you’ll love it! I would like to take this opportunity to recap our process, walk you through some of the new stuff you’ll see, and explain a little bit about why we made it the way we did.
As you might expect, months of research went into creating the new homepage, during which our film-loving experience designers pulled out all the stops to create an experience based on your input. We began with some objective analysis of member behaviors on our site. From there, we looked through a hefty number of exit surveys and conducted a series of focus groups, site surveys and one-on-one interviews with both loyal Fandorians and Fandor newcomers (a special shout out to those who helped!).
In all of this research, we were focused on trying to answer one question: “How and why does a person decide to watch one film over another?” We knew that if we could better understand people’s thought processes when it came to picking a film to watch, we could build a better experience to help them find that perfect film.
One critical piece of information we were reminded of was that each one of you is unique. Each of you has your own little quirks and preferences, and more often than not your inspiration for wanting to watch a specific film is rather unpredictable. Given this discovery, trying to build one homepage that would function for everyone seemed quite daunting. To tackle this task, we first spent a few days drawing up User Personas**, a process which helped us focus on who we’re building Fandor for and what they need. This would prove crucial during the next phase of the project, when our designers began to give visual form to the new homepage experience. After weeks of research, we organized our learnings and finally put pen to paper (or, more precisely, fingertip to trackpad).
Led by designer Alejandro Marroquín, our team spent a few rather stimulating weeks designing the first draft of the new homepage. When you have five intelligent and opinionated people trying to design one critical user experience, arguments will be had—and yes, feelings will get hurt—but I’m glad to report that our friendships emerged intact! With the design proposal in hand, we next created a clickable prototype and shared it with a select group of Fandor members for a quick sanity check to make sure we were on the right planet with the new design. As we’d hoped, our testers loved the new direction, and also pointed out a few minor but insightful things that we could improve upon. So we iterated a few more times on the design and conducted a second round of usability testing. Everything checked out, so we unleashed our web developers on the new homepage and a few weeks later…voila!
Through our lengthy research phase, we identified a few things that were paramount in making the homepage a useful and enjoyable film discovery tool.
Getting a Heavy Dose of Curation
It can be difficult to sift through thousands of films, and on a Friday night after a long week of work, the last thing we want to do is dig through the archives to find something to watch. As it turns out, over 80% of the Fandor members we talked with mentioned that choosing a film can be daunting and that they often looked to our guidance to help them cut through the noise. This is why we brought more curation to the homepage. Users will now get more than just their personalized recommendations—they will also be able to quickly glance through our curated Spotlight, this week’s Criterion Picks, featured New Releases, and films that are currently trending on Fandor.
Keeping our Options Open
It’s never easy to make that final decision, and it turns out that we all want to survey everything that’s out there before picking. Therefore, we decided to increase the “browsability” (if that’s a word) of the new homepage, and . we’re introducing two key features that will help us do that!
The first is a new sideways-scrolling film row, which enables us to include a variety of film lists on one page. Without leaving the homepage, you can now review your queue, peruse your personalized recommendations and see a selection of curated lists. It’s all there. No more navigating from page to page just to see what’s in each list!
The second thing we did was update the individual film cards (the squares that you can hover over to find out more about a film) to emphasize what we determined through testing is most important (film still, film title, genre, filmmaker). We also added the ability to play a trailer directly from the film card, because let’s face it: there’s nothing quite like a trailer to help give a quick taste of a film. So hopefully with these “browsability upgrades”, you won’t need to go back-and-forth as much between the new homepage and other pages while you’re deciding what to watch.
Context is Key
On our old homepage, we had one big block of recommendations that were based on the genres people liked and what they had already watched, among other things. While these recommendations may have been relevant, people had a hard time trusting them because it wasn’t clear to them why they were being recommended. So, we broke out our recommendations into multiple, clearly labeled types. For example, we now have one row of recommendations based on a film that you’ve watched in the past, and other rows of recommendations based on the genres you like. We have a few others as well – go check them out, and let us know what you think!
Simple is Best
This is something that we knew before we started, but was re-affirmed over and over with testing. No matter what, we knew we needed to de-clutter the Fandor homepage and focus on what matters most. We looked through our analytics to see what elements on the page just weren’t being used. What we found wasn’t greatly surprising, but before removing things from the page we checked through testing to figure out why the feature wasn’t being used. We learned what was ignored due to not being very useful (like the activity ticker), and removed those elements; we also learned that some things like the movie lists, could be presented in a better way, so we are striving to optimize the presentation of these items.
Well, that’s it! It was quite the fun project to be apart of, and thanks again to everyone that helped. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the new homepage on Facebook or Twitter, or right here in the comments.
* If you aren’t seeing the new homepage yet, fear not! You will be soon.
** Creating user personas is a great way to help UX designers remember who we’re building Fandor for (you!) and what are your needs, desires, and tendencies. After all the users we met during our focus groups and interviews (we met with over 50!), we created 8 “personas”, or people, to represent our subscribers. These 8 made-up people are very diverse and have all sorts of different characteristics. We then drew up some info cards (think baseball cards) to answer some questions about their life and relationship with Fandor: from “what’s their main reason for using Fandor?”, to “what type of films does this person like?”, to “how familiar with technology is this person?”, to “does this person have kids?”. We, on the UX team, now have a handy resource when building out new experiences. Rather than asking “Would our users use this?” (which is a very complex question), we can now ask ourselves things like “Would Frank use this feature?” or “Would Sarah understand what this means?”. If you’re interested, you can read more on creating user personas here.