Facebook Movies

Designing a product from the ground up with Facebook.

The shared experience of seeing 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)?” There’s something special about gathering family and friends for this shared experience.

Over a year, we worked alongside the Events team at Facebook to design a product from the ground up. Facebook Movies helps users discover movies that are playing in theaters near them and quickly 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 participate in user research. The focus of these sessions ranged from general information gathering about how people experienced going to the movies to more specific analysis, zeroing in on the usability and value of specific features we were designing. We even had the opportunity to accompany the team overseas to learn more about the movie-going experience in other countries ahead of a product launch that spanned both the US and the UK.

User Research 

Throughout the different research sessions, we learned that moviegoers love the experience for various reasons. Some would talk about how going to the theater is a 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 when they got tickets for opening night in a packed theater, or having particular post-movie conversations with family and friends. Getting to know our audience in this way and our own experience and love of movies fueled our passion for this project. 

The Core Experience 

The core product experience allows 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, we collaborated with designers from the Facebook Events team to leverage their expertise in the company’s design standards and 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 and delivery.

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.

Facebook is positioned to provide value to moviegoers in terms of convenience, helping them get from A to B more quickly. The work we did involving the News Feed is an example of how we started building around this opportunity. Suppose someone sees that their friend posts about going to a movie that interests them; they can begin to make their plans directly from that post. Additionally, suppose someone is looking at a Facebook Page for a movie, watching a movie trailer, searching for movie-related content, or even browsing Facebook more broadly, looking for something to do. In that case, they are connected with the movies 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 feature to other parts of Facebook.

Since Facebook is a large organization with many different teams working towards their own goals, bringing our product to other 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. These relationships are critical in 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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