I’ve always loved watching movies, my best memories include people that I love and sharing movies experiences with them. In 2015, I wanted to use my skills as a designer and old skills as a developer to create one simple idea: get all the movies that I love in the digital world forever. I’ve dedicated 4 years to design, develop and iterate over this project. Here is part of the experience.

Step 1: Get to know what’s out there

Firstly, I made an initial research to know more about similar websites like IMDB or Filmaffinity. I anotated things I liked, things I think they were doing wrong, and things that I was missing to make a place personal and enjoyable on a daily basis.

I come out with an idea: it had to be called ‘elcine.de‘ so that I could get urls like ‘elcine.de/carmel‘ as well as ‘elcine.de/terror‘. ‘El Cine De…’ (The Movies of…) was the name of the initial version of this project.

Step 2: Observation

For a while a spoke with different types of movie lovers (and haters) and observed how they talked about watching movies, when they usually did it, with whom, etc.

I collected every note on Google Keep and created a map of experiences. Based on this I defined a set of mental models that will trigger the initial sketching.

Step 3: Prototyping

I started creating prototypes at different levels using paper, Fireworks (sight) and even HTML. With paper, I just wanted to think on how to transform the research into something special, to explore ideas, to frame the problem and understand the scope of design.

With Fireworks I wanted to play around the possible visual style and with HTML trying out the cost of making those ideas for real.

And finally, I created some real prototypes in HTML and CSS (SASS), I used Flexblox to create a responsive layout.

Step 4: Making it real

I didn’t have all the time in the world and no one else but me to make this project real so I tried to make it with the technology that I knew: Drupal. Soon I realised that it was not the best option.

After some investigation I found a script on sale that I could modify and adapt to add the features that I wanted:

  • Navigating by directores and writers
  • An special layout for titles
  • Custom HTML to improve the SEO (microformats, urls, metadata,…)
  • Publishing a blog (my friends helped me with this)
  • A new whole design that I could not finished

Step 5: Moving forward

In 2019, I’ve had to make a difficult decision: keeping the old code that I’ve been mantaining the last 3 years or update the script to the latest version with all the things that I included and more.

I decided to go for the second since I don’t have more time to maintain it, and because of this, I planned an strategy to avoid a big impact on the SEO:

  • Making a redirection map
  • Testing the https version that it was working properly
  • Updating sitemaps

Things that I learned

There are few technical things that I’ve been forced to learng this real:

  • MySQL, PHP (Laravel, WordPress) and Javascript basics
  • Git version control
  • DNS and storage management
  • Google Analytics, Search Console and Google Tag Manager
  • Visual Design and information architecture
  • User Research
  • SEO

But the big lessons of this projects can be summarised as follows:

  1. Stick to your brand. In the middle of the project I decided to switch from ‘elcine.de‘ to ‘cinefilica.es‘, that was a mistake. I still have friends that remember me as ‘elcine.de‘.
  2. Version control from day zero. I included Git too late in the project, setting up the local environment and managing the history of versions would have been so much easier with a proper Git repository.
  3. Cannot be designer and developer and do the best work. I got frustrated as a designer for not being able to achieve as a developer what I wanted. I think I have never been able to explore the maximum of this project in any of both sides.
  4. SEO is a matter of listening what Google recommends. No more secrets than that. Original content, good code and patience.
  5. Without users, you are just another website for nothing. I was never happy enough with the signed-in user features so I decided not allowing them to sign up. That’s not funny enough as a UX designer, I was missing their actions, their demands, their feedback.
  6. Despite the failures, I cannot stop loving it. Cinefilica is my place to know more about movies, to collect them, to discover something new. Despite all the mistakes I made as a designer, I’m in love of this project and I’ll always take care of it.
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UX Lead at Ebury and graduated as a Computer Engineer at the University of Granada. I've worked in the financial, dataviz, healthcare, and book stores industries doing what I enjoy the most: making people feel happy when interacting with everyday technology.