Facebook Movies

Designing a product from the ground up with Facebook.

The shared experience of going to see a movie can be a strong force in connecting people. So many conversations start with “Seen any good movies lately?” or “Did you see (insert movie name here)?” Aside from the films themselves, there’s something special about gathering up family and friends, getting out of the house and going to the theater to see a movie. Over the course of a year, we worked alongside the Events team at Facebook to design a product from the ground up that helps people use Facebook to discover movies that are playing in theaters near them and easily purchase tickets so they can plan an outing to their favorite theater with family and friends.

During this engagement, we had various opportunities to conduct and take part in user research. The focus of these sessions ranged from general information gathering about how people experienced going to the movies to more specific research, zeroing in on the usability and value of specific features we were designing. We even had the opportunity to accompany the team overseas so we could learn more about the movie-going experience in other countries ahead of a product launch that spanned across both the US and UK.

Getting to Know the Audience 

Throughout all of these different sessions, we learned that moviegoers love the experience for a variety of reasons. Some would talk about how going to the theater is a really big event for them because they only go a couple of times a year. We heard people swooning over their favorite concessions or the details of their neighborhood theaters; reminiscing about a time they got tickets for opening night in a packed theater or particular post-movie conversations had with family and friends. Getting to know our audience in this way, as well as our own experience and love of movies fueled our passion for this project. We really enjoyed working with the team at Facebook to help foster these types of experiences.

The Core Experience 

We knew that we had to hit the ground running by building the core experience of the product which consisted of creating a central place within Facebook that would allow people to browse current and upcoming movies near them, look through a list of all available showtimes at local theaters and purchase tickets through one of our partners.

During this initial design phase (and throughout other parts of the project), we were able to collaborate with other designers from the Facebook Events team to leverage their expertise in the company’s design standards as well as get insightful feedback on the work that helped us provide more value to the team.

Maintaining a close working relationship with the Facebook developers on the team was also crucial to bringing this core experience to life. We were able to involve them in each step of the process from ideation to design delivery. We were also heavily involved in implementation, communicating with the development team daily to answer questions, work through problems and ensure quality. This helped us move more quickly and build an experience that we are proud of.

Connecting People with the Product

With the core experience work well underway, we set our sights on what was next. Purchasing movie tickets online isn’t in and of itself a new concept. With the advent of reserved seating at theaters, it’s becoming a preferred method for many people.

We knew that Facebook was uniquely positioned to provide value to moviegoers in terms of convenience, helping them get from A to B quicker. In this scenario, A is learning about a movie and B is getting out to the theater to experience it. The work we did involving the News Feed is an example of how we started building around this opportunity. If someone sees that their friend posts about going to a movie that interests them, they can start to make their own plans directly from that post. Additionally, if someone is looking at a Facebook Page for a movie, watching a movie trailer, searching for movie-related content, or even just more broadly browsing Facebook, looking for something to do, they are connected with our product. These types of projects enabled us to break out of the core surfaces that our team had built, which were somewhat tucked away in the app, allowing us to bring the movies product to other parts of Facebook.

Since Facebook is a large organization with many different teams working towards their own goals, bringing our product to different parts of the Facebook experience required collaboration across teams we weren’t directly brought on to work with.  For example, we worked with the Pages team to bring movie showtimes to that surface. To accomplish this, we partnered closely with a product manager on the Facebook Events team to build these inter-team relationships with care and ensure that anything we decided to build would help both parties move towards their goals. This has been important for creating the best possible outcomes for individual projects and keeping the door between teams open for future collaboration.

Building the Foundation for Future Features

The last big project we were able to work on with the Events team was building a movie ticket checkout housed natively on Facebook, making it so people didn’t have to go offsite to complete transactions. This was many months after we launched our initial experience. We would often receive feedback from users that the post-transaction experience was lacking and there were some obvious places in our current solution that could be made better through a completely native checkout. While it was a lot of work up front, housing the entire checkout on Facebook solves key issues and affords the team more opportunities to optimize and differentiate in the future. This flow has a lot of moving parts and is something we knew we wanted to get just right. We refined the designs through feedback from both the Underbelly and Facebook teams as well as insights from user research. We’re excited to have seen it come to life for select ticketing options.

Working with the Facebook Events team to design the movies product from the ground up has been a rewarding experience. We’re rooting for the team as they iterate on what we’ve built together and are excited to see what they accomplish as they continue on their mission to help people spend time together in the real world.


Autumn Mariano
Product Designer
Facebook Events Team
Internal Team
Matt Royce
Content Lead
Brad Edwards

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