IMDb Usability Study 

Evaluating IMDb to improve the entertainment experience



Project Focus

We conducted a set of usability studies that evaluated the navigation, information architectures, and flow of the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) desktop website

Intended Users

Our team focused on users who were male and female adults between the ages of 18-25, in the Seattle area, who are familiar with technology, do not contribute any content to IMDb, are new or infrequent users of IMDb, and can read English fluently.  For the purposes of this study, familiarity with technology referred to young adults who utilized computers daily to browse webpages.


My Role

  • Contributed to reports through written contributions and document design work
  • Usability Study Moderator
  • Note Taker

Key Skills

  • Planning and executing usability studies
  • Synthesizing usability study findings
  • Creating formal write ups to communicate progress and findings

Key Tools

  • Lookback
  • Skype
  • Excel


We created a formal usability report that could be sent to Amazon for the purpose of improving the experience of the IMDb desktop website


Project Declaration

Our team began the usability study process by brainstorming websites, apps, and functions that we found frustrating within our daily lives.  We then narrowed down the list by completing an anonymous to determine which technology the group wanted to study.  IMDb was chosen and we completed a project declaration in order to start focusing upon specific users and areas of IMDb. 

View our project declaration

Project Proposal

As part of the initial stages of our study, we wrote up a project proposal.  The project proposal identifies:

  • The product we tested
  • Our client’s goals
  • Our target users
  • The key tasks our user would need to successfully accomplish to effectively use the product
  • The key usability questions we investigated during the usability testing

This assignment helped our group begin to focus on specific aspects of IMDb as well as our target users and narrow our scope.

View our project proposal

Heuristic Evaluation - Individual

We each conducted an individual heuristic evaluation of IMDb’s desktop website to independently evaluate the usability of the IMDb website.  I utilized Jakob Nielsen’s ten Usability Heuristics to fully evaluate the functionality and usability of the website. The desktop website was evaluated on a pass/fail basis, with an explanation and design change recommendations provided as well.

View my individual heuristic evaluation

Heuristic Evaluation - Group

After we each completed our individual heuristic evaluations, we analyzed the results of the evaluations and grouped each of the heuristic evaluation methods into three large themes: Consistency, Sense of Navigation, and Help and Documentation.  We then supported detailed which usability issues we identified and provided several design change recommendations. 

View our group heuristic evaluation to gain a greater perspective on our analysis

Usability Study Plan

Next, we created a study plan to guide our user research.  The plan detailed out our documentation, our decision regarding the best approach for our user research, and a consolidation of the details of our intended usability study, so that the plan could be shared and understood by other groups.  The document explains our planned user research actions and the rationale for each of the actions.

After receiving feedback from our professor and teaching assistant on our Heuristic Evaluation and the first version of our usability study plan, our group decided to shift our focus from the IMDb mobile website to the IMDb desktop website.  We were running into technical difficulties and with the feedback we had received we believed that it would be best for the time frame of this project to focus upon the IMDb desktop website.  

Usability Test Kit

We created a test kit designed to support our study sessions. The test kit was copied and utilized in each of our usability study sessions to maintain consistency between each of the sessions and to guarantee that no questions or tasks were missed by the moderator for each of the usability testing session. 

View our usability test kit to understand how we constructed our study sessions

Preliminary Analysis Small Report

After we conducted our usability study sessions we performed an affinity analysis in order to identify themes and usability issues based off of our individual usability study sessions.  We identified a total of 19 different groupings; however for the purposes of our preliminary analysis report we discussed three different themes in order to quickly communicate the most crucial usability issues we found with the IMDb desktop website. We wrote up a preliminary analysis small report to document the main findings of the usability study sessions as well as explain the demographics of the participants who tested the IMDb desktop website.

View our preliminary analysis small report

Final Report

Our final report is a summation of our findings and the documentation that we accumulated throughout the preparation for the usability study sessions as well as during the usability study sessions. Additionally, the final report provides design recommendations from our team based on the findings we identified during our usability study sessions. 

View our final report to see our final product

Learned Lessons


I really enjoyed the team that I worked with and felt that this experience was a wonderful first experience to have with usability studies.  We were able to identify several usability issues within the IMDb desktop website, which made us feel validated for all our hard work.  I was able to perform different roles within the usability study sessions, which was exciting and new for me, and I found that I really enjoy moderating study sessions and talking with participants about their experiences using the website. 

Learned Lessons

One of the hardest parts of the user research and usability study process for our team was guaranteeing that participants would indeed show up for assigned usability study sessions.  We had more people than we expected respond to our survey and identify what times they would be available to participate in our usability study sessions.  However, as the study sessions progressed, we had more and more people who were scheduled for study sessions either become sick, email us that they weren’t going to make the session, or just not show up at all.  Because of this experience, I learned to always set aside more time than necessary to complete a usability study and that even if you have participants double booked for several sessions, be prepared that there will be participants that will cancel. 

Additionally, through the processes of conducting usability studies of the IMDb website, I learned how to narrow down and define key tasks and usability questions for usability studies.  When we first started preparing for the study, our key tasks and usability questions were rather vague and large.  Through the processes of iteration and feedback, we narrowed down our key tasks and fully defined our usability questions, so that we could identify specific parts of the IMDb interface to study as well as specify exactly what we were asking and expecting from the usability study.