Movie nights are a time-honored tradition at Table XI. Iterating over summers we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to put on a great show. What exactly does it take? Let me tell you using a few UX principles.

Listen to your users

In keeping with a user-centric approach, we worked to better understand the needs and motivations of our audience. And by that I mean, we sent out a survey asking people what they wanted to see.

After a few rounds of campaigning and poster contests, Wet Hot American Summer was the lucky winner. We incorporated those insights into our content strategy in a fairly straightforward way:

UX movie night_1

Give users a feeling of ownership

What’s even more special than movie night? Being a part of putting it together! As a special treat, guests were kindly invited to help carry chairs and other supplies up to the roof. We hypothesized that including users in the process of creating the event would make them feel more invested in the final product. Best case scenario, lugging a cooler up a flight of stairs or saving the day by finding a clutch extension cord makes you feel like you're truly part of this awesome experience, which of course you are. Movie night simply wouldn't be the same without you.

UX movie night_2

Prototype testing

Quality experiences come from regularly checking in with members of your target audience throughout development. Does this work flow make sense? Will users intuitively look for the bottle opener next to the cooler? Is this chair comfortable? Can you see the screen from over here?

UX movie night_3


Test your assumptions

Wet Hot American Summer happens to be one of my favorite movies and I was insanely excited by the prospect of seeing it on the big screen in such an epic venue. Still, as a UX designer, I know that my personal opinions matter only up to a point. Would this be a good choice for this crowd? Would the movie live up to the hype? (Hype that I was admittedly somewhat responsible for creating.) Judging by audience feedback, the answer is yes:  It was awesome.

UX movie night_4


Offer opportunities for ongoing engagement

Don’t assume the the user’s journey is over just because they’ve completed the primary task. The movie’s done? No matter.

Cut to: Rooftop dance party followed by Nerf gun battle in the kitchen.

UX movie night_5

In closing

If you talk to users and work to get them involved, if you’re willing to do the literal and metaphorical work of lugging stuff up a few flights of stairs, if you can anticipate your audiences’ needs and provide content appropriate for the context, you too can have a most memorable movie night.

Accessible software design always knows its audience