IMDb: Now Showing, a Sleek Redesign

If you’ve ever used the Internet and like movies, I’m sure you’ve heard of IMDb. Since it’s launch in 1990, IMDb has been the de facto place to go when you’re trying to figure out where you’ve seen that one actor before (tip, it’s always Spaceballs). When smartphones became a thing, IMDb was a must have bookmark so you could also settle debates with your friends on the go. In short, IMDb is simply part of the small percentage of websites that’s ingrained into society.

One of the few shortcomings of IMDb’s iPad app in the past is a lack of user friendliness. When you launch the app, there’s simply a lot of noise to overcome and it takes more than a few seconds to figure out the navigation setup. But the developers behind IMDb’s iPad app looked to rectify this issue with the release of version 3.0, which offers up a complete redesign. So, does this mean that IMDb now offers up a great service in an easy-to-use package? Hit to jump to find this answer and more!

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The New Home Page

If you used IMDb pre-version 3.0, you’ll notice a very stark difference in the app’s design and layout. Gone is the two-pane UI (in landscape mode) and the white background in favor of a single pane and overall dark design. Categories like Trailers, Top News and Showtimes are still displayed in an individual sections, but the sections are now more clearly defined. In addition, categories are also laid out in different order, and even include some new categories.

Very few app redesigns have been as stark as IMDb's redesign.

Very few app redesigns have been as stark as IMDb’s redesign.

New Trailers & Coming Soon

New trailers are still on display at the top of the page, and include a more prominent movie poster and trailer preview. One issue I’ve always experienced with trailers is slow load times, and it still hasn’t improved. Coming Soon gets second billing (a move I agree with) and groups upcoming movies together by date with a subtle outline, which is a nice design touch. You can scroll through the category or tap the button on the right-hand side to transition into a new page that displays the same information in a vertical UI (this feature is available for all home page categories as well).

If you're not a fan of horizontal views, you can easily transition into a vertical view.

If you’re not a fan of horizontal views, you can easily transition into a vertical view.

In Theaters Near You

The Now Playing category, which was previously tucked away in a very small sliver of the home page, has been reimagined as the In Theaters Near You category. This, as you might imagine, showcases poster icons for movies that are currently still in nearby theaters (if you’ve given the app the necessary location permissions) in one of three sections — Watchlist, New This Week and Also Playing. Watchlist, for those not familiar, is a feature used to keep tabs on movies you want to see and is a great feature for those that want the functionality without using a separate app like ToDoMovies.

You can add movies to you Watchlist by tapping the + icon in the top left corner of a movie’s poster icon.

Finding showtimes is more prominent, but requires an extra tap.

Finding showtimes is more prominent, but requires an extra tap.

There is downside of this new category, however. When you tap on a movie to view showtimes, you’ll have to perform an additional tap to view showtime information (I’m not psychic, but foresee a “first world problem” joke in the comments section). Once in the Now Playing page, you can change the date and location to include more theaters. If desired, you can tap the heart icon next to theater to add it to your favorites (meaning they will always be displayed in your results), and tap on a theater’s name to view all movies that are currently playing at that theater.

Movie Information

As part of redesign, the movie information page has also been streamlined to make it easy to find the information you seek. The first new design feature is a snapshot from the movie that’s displayed at the top of the page, which is a design choice I can get behind but others might feel adds clutter to the page. The share button located within the snapshot allows you to share via email, text message, Twitter and/or Facebook; check in on Twitter, Facebook or IMDb itself; rate the movie; or add the movie to a list (e.g. Watchlist).

You can tap the snapshot to view more images, which can also be done by tapping the images next to the trailer or the poster.

You can tap the snapshot to view more images, which can also be done by tapping the images next to the trailer or the poster.

Below the snapshot you’ll find the movie’s title, rating, duration, genres, IMDb rating, an option to rate the movie, the movie’s Metascore, and options to view the director, writer and cast & crew. As you move down the page you’ll find familiar sections like Reviews & Commentary, Did You Know? (a.k.a trivia), Storyline and News, which again are laid out in a more user friendly manner. To the right of the page you’ll find a scrollable list of all the actors starring in the movie, below which is a list of recommended movies.

Each section is more clearly defined.

Each section is more clearly defined.

A Brand New Menu

Besides the complete redesign, the other major new feature is a hidden navigation menu, which is all the rage in modern app design. To access the menu, simply tap the IMDb logo in the top left corner. From here, you can access most of the categories available on the home page, as well as some additional categories such as Watchlist, Coming Soon To DVD/Blu-Ray and Message Boards. While the concept of the menu isn’t new, there’s a reason why it’s being utilized in more and more apps — immediate access to every area of the app, which I think is a great idea.

The new menu allows you to easily jump anywhere in the app in just a few taps.

The new menu allows you to easily jump anywhere in the app in just a few taps.

The Bottom Line

As I stated before, IMDb has never offered the most user-friendly experience, and it goes without question that the redesign succeeds in making categories much easier to use. In addition, it’s incredibly easy to jump to any area of the app within a few taps. There are some odd UI choices that are left over from the previous design, which is offering too many methods of performing the same function.

In some instances, it’s good to have more than one method to do the same thing (e.g. adding a movie to a Watchlist). However, when you’re checking out a movie’s information page there are three method of viewing photos from the movie and the movie’s premieres — tapping the snapshot, tapping the poster or tapping the image icons next to the trailer. What’s even more odd is that each option showcases some of the same photos, but not all. Another double-up is the ability to view the entire cast in the scrollable Starring pane and the option to view All Cast & Crew. It’s certainly a nitpick on my part, but doesn’t it make more sense to remove the cast portion of the section and redub it All Crew?

These minor UI annoyances aside, it certainly doesn’t take away from an update that pushes an already good app to the next level. A quality that makes this app so great is that the developers really understand the difference between what an iPhone and iPad should be. IMBb for the iPhone is now more sleek and simplified, only offering options to view individual categories (thus not cluttering the screen). On the flip side, the iPad version showcases the same categories, but utilizes the iPad’s screen real estate to display the information that goes along with the category. That, my friends, is great design work.


Find movie information and showtimes.