Problem solving with agile UX – Part 1

In this article, I’ll explain the motivation behind the “Problem solving with agile UX” session that I lead with Peter Grierson, at LAST Conference, on 27 July. Part 2 discusses the session at the conference.

What movies are on tonight?

Let me clearly state, that I like Cinema Nova, quite a lot. They have quite a few screens, which means that there is usually a pretty good choice of films on any one night. So, this is not meant to be a heartless lampoon; more like constructive criticism.

One common scenario is that my movie going companions and I will finish work, and will often go for a quick meal at a local restaurant, either before the movie, or after it finishes. This means that  there are 2 windows of viewing opportunity; movies that start at around 6pm (finishing around 8pm), or ones that start at around 7:30.

As part of this scenario, I also want to find out what a movie was about. Although I regularly listen to Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews podcast, and often watch At the Movies, I can’t always remember that the “free-wheeling rock ‘n’ roll love story set against the raucous magnificence and unforgettable sounds of Scotland’s leading music Festival” is called You Instead.

Also, I’d quite like to see how long the film is, to gauge whether I need to buy a choc top to stave off hunger pangs, or to not drink a lot of water, in the case of a long movie. This also gives me an idea of whether I’ll get home in good time on public transport, or whether I should get a taxi instead.

The first port of call on this is, of course their website. You can see below, the “Session Times” page:

Here is a cropped image of the “Now Showing page”. Click the image to see its full vertical glory.

Cropped. Now Showing. Movie Descriptions

Perhaps you can see why this doesn’t work very well for me.

Firstly, it’s pretty hard to see which films are on at around the same time on a particular night. I don’t think you should have to use a pen and paper to write down the names, and times of the movies, in order to make sense of when they are on.

Then when I narrow down the names of the movies that are eligible, it’s hard to find out what the film is about without having to jump between the “Session Times” page, and the “Now Showing” page (with its multiple anchor links in the left menu).

I want to see The Dark Knight Rises

I admit that the above user scenario may be less common than the scenario that most cinema websites cater for; going to see a specific film… “What times is The Dark Knight Rises screening at the Nova on Monday, after 5pm?

Daily: 10.50, 12.30, 2.00, 3.35, 5.05, 6.40, 
8.15, 9.45
Late show Fri & Sat: 10.30pm
Also screening in Nova Deluxe in-cinema dining!

5.05, 6.40, 8.15, 9.45pm. OK, let’s go to the 6:40 session.

Sometimes, the listing for a movie will look like this:

Russian language, English subtitles
Thu-Mon: 11.40, 1.50, 6.55, 9.05
Tue, Wed: 11.40, 1.50, 8.55

It’s good that I can see that it’s a subtitled movie, in case I don’t feel like having to read them. I can also I can see that there are more screenings on a particular day, and that the film isn’t screening on the weekend.

A drawback is, that it’s relatively easy to turn up on Tuesday or Wednesday for a 9:05pm screening, to find out it’s not on, and I still can’t find out what Elena is about, easily.

“If we had 2 screens rather than 15, that might be possible.”

So, as you do these days, I took to Twitter to let them know:


This was the response:

It’s good that there is an “updated website” in the works, although there’s no evidence of it, more than 3 months later. I took a bit of umbrage to the first part of the reply, though. Just because there are more films and screens, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for your website to clearly show the information that you users want…a bit of a 140 character cop out.

Let’s build a better website

This got me to thinking that this would be a great idea for a session at LAST conference. I teamed up with Pete, who so ably presented a the UX and agile Meetup in May. He’s an experienced UX practitioner, who has worked for some years in agile development teams. He’s currently at the REA group, here in Melbourne.

So, I  expanded on my scenario, added another scenario, and created two personas to use in the session. Pete and I will discussed the problems identified with the site with the room, groups were formed, and the groups used some UX techniques that can be used by an agile team to come with solutions to the scenarios.

To be continued…

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