Improved IMDB watchlist for iOS

May 20th 20162 min read

IMDB is not the sexiest product around, but it’s extremely useful and has virtually no real alternatives. With a database so rich it’s a priceless resource (and it’s free). One of the features I use the most is IMDB’s watchlist. Pretty standard stuff, kind of like Instapaper for movies. I prefer saving movies inside the app instead of in Instapaper or a Reminders list. It’s super convenient to see more info with a single tap, including rich previews with posters.

A screenshot of IMDB's currrent watchlis on iOS
The current version of IMDB's watchlist on iOS 😐

Unfortunately, IMDB’s watchlist experience is not too great. The web version is… dated and, while iOS looks pretty native and current, it’s actually a bonanza of non-native components and weird choices like:

  • non-standard search component
  • tiny share button with a squished icon
  • an extremely awkward title
  • “New message/note” button which is actually an “Edit” button. On top of that, it opens a completely different view, something I’ve never seen elsewhere.
  • full-width sorting bar which is actually one huge button (with a fake visual button and a counter)
  • full-width “Add to List” button
  • puzzling “Mark as watched” buttons which trigger a delete menu 🙄
  • “Play trailer” shortcut buttons which look similar to the native list view chevrons

Now that’s a lot, isn’t it? It’s not that hard to make it better, all we need is the HIG and some basic components used right. Here’s what I did in a few evenings.

It’s nothing special, just:

  • a standard navbar with a title, “Back” and “Edit” buttons and an additional “Sort” button (a rarely used layout found in Notes)
  • a standard search bar
  • a native bottom bar with a “Share” button and an “Add” button
  • a native couple of swipe actions to mark movies as watched or delete them

I’ve also included a small part of the Shared watchlist feature I’m working on. As you might expect, it allows family members to access and edit a single watchlist. It’s coming soon.

In conclusion, designing with 100% standard components is a super mindful and straightforward process. Although it’s not the ultimate solution to every problem, I wish we had more native apps nowadays, like in the early days of the App Store.

One more thing...

Have an awesome idea about how this could work better? Don't keep it to yourself, send me a quick email or DM me on Twitter. I’ll feature it as an update on this page with full credit.