Competitor Analysis – Part 1

As part of the competitor analysis a review was undertaken of the possible competitors websites and mobile phone apps. Two multiplexes, VUE and the Oden where reviewed as these  are similar in number of screens and size. A smaller cinema the “Stella Theater” was also reviewed as this offered a VIP experience similar to Movies at Dundrum.

Movies at Dundrum

Movies at Dundrum defines itself as a luxury 12 screen multiplex cinema, which uses the latest technology both visual and audio to provide an immersive experience. It also offers corporate options as well niche screenings aimed at various demographics outside normal cinema attendance, such as stay at home parents, senior citizens as well as live events for those interested in the arts. Movies at Dundrum positions itself more in the luxury end of the cinema going experience, with an optional VIP experience which involves exclusive access and seating, alcohol and food along with tie ins with various mid tier restaurants. Movies at Dundrum also provide a phone app which is available on both Android and iPhone.

VUE Cinema

VUE Homepage
Fig 1: VUE Homepage

VUE cinema position themselves in roughly the same space as Movies at Dundrum, it offers the standard movie screenings and also sells itself on using the latest audio and visual technology. It does this using a consistent tone through out the site the using phrases such  “Jaw Dropping”, “Big Screen” and “This is not a cinema” as well as having a dedicated page. Similar to Movies at Dundrum it also offers alternative targeted options, such as live cultural events, day time and late night specials as well as providing corporate facilities. VUE also provide a phone app, but it is only available on iPhone

VUE Website

The VUE website is a clean crisp design with great attention paid to layout and detail. It makes  use of the full width of the page for large visual elements while constraining the layout to a fixed maximum width for the informational elements of the site, this can be seen below in Fig 2.

Fig 2: VUE mixed width display
Fig 2: VUE mixed width display

Navigation

The core navigation is in a single small header (Fig 3), reserving the largest amount of screen real estate for the content and main goal of booking. One drawback to the core navigation is that it is not fixed and scrolls of the screen.

Fig 3: VUE main navigation header
Fig 3: VUE main navigation header

There is also fixed booking functionality at the bottom of the screen (Fig 4). This is persisted throughout the site allowing you to book from anywhere. This may explain the header not being fixed as it could become confusing as well as detracting from the the main goal of booking a ticket.

Fig 3: VUE Quick booking
Fig 4: VUE quick booking

Booking System

The booking system on the VUE website makes use of the full width of the screen very successfully. It provides detailed and easy to read content without over taxing the user while at the same time providing the option for further information. The movie trailer is embedded and seamless and reveals when the user clicks the play button, once again, making full use of the width of the screen to great effect and adding to the overall experience.

It makes a few assumptions to ease the booking process such as selecting today’s date and the location of the cinema as well as providing the next available viewing times (Fig 5) making the process more stream lined. This approach of  making assumptions about what the user wants rather than constantly asking questions is mentioned by by Cooper et al. (2014) in About Face and also by the great Grace Murray Hopper.

It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.

– Grace Murray Hopper.

Fig 5: VUE booking screen
Fig 5: VUE booking screen

The VUE booking process also reduces the travel within the site and hence the possibility for confusion by keeping the more detailed booking options on the same screen. When the “Get All Times & Tickets” button is clicked the current content slides to left. The user can then view the list of all times and dates as well as filter options for the types of screening, “All, 3D, 2D, etc” By hiding these options in panels which either slide in or expand to reveal further information the overall feel is that of an application rather than a website.

Fig 6: VUE booking screen details
Fig 6: VUE booking screen details

This functionality also works responsively with key features such as the  “Get All Times & Tickets” button becoming fixed to bottom of the screen (Fig 7),  for ease of access and existing hidden functionality continue to function as reveal panels which slide in from the right and fill the whole area (Fig 8).

Fig 7: VUE responsive screen
Fig 8: VUE Responsive functionality
Fig 8: VUE Responsive functionality

Seat Selection

Upon selecting your time the site again makes an assumption and moves you to the seat selection page. By default two adults are selected as a well the best possible seats. This is all clearly presented using chunked data and  headings without the need to open any further informational panels or dialog. If the user wishes to edit any of the choices the options to do so are clearly represented  through the use of wording and iconography.

Both the ticket selection and seat selection appear as slide in panels again from the right and scroll independently of the overall site once activated. Once again these are responsive and work by filling the full screen. There is a nice touch with the seat selection in that it launchs a small notification window after a certain length of time to check if there is an issue with seat selection and gives the option to change the time from within the panel with having to restart the booking (Fig 11).

Fig 10: VUE Ticket selection
Fig 10: VUE ticket selection

 

Fig 11: VUE seat selection
Fig 11: VUE seat selection

The VUE seat booking functionality  is filled with small useful additions such as the finish times of movies rather than the length, how popular a movie is, upgrade options, and a clear legend. All of these features create a pleasant and smooth user experience, which creates trust and confidence in the user.

VUE iPhone App

The iPhone takes a different approach to content and loads all movies upfront with a filter centred at the top of the scree right below the location selector. As per the website this is pre-selected. Similar to the website there’s carousel at the top of the screen  which cycles through adverts and also has a book now feature for each movie. Styling and iconography is kept identical to the website which creates a sens of familiarity. Directly below this is a second filter which allows you filter movies by day by swiping left and right. The functionality of this filter repeats the websites affect of not having to leave where one is to do something, such as having to open a drop-down. Affordance for this filter feels natural and encourages use.

Fig 12: VUE Mobile iPhone App
Fig 12: VUE Mobile App                                      Fig 13: VUE  Mobile App filter

Navigation

The app uses two fixed navigation features. The day filter option which moves to to the top of screen when a user scrolls down (Fig 13) and similar tot he website a fixed quick book, calendar and user account option. All of these options are easy to access using just your thumb and being key elements for navigation the app the location of them is extremely well placed. By selecting any of the times on the home screen you are brought to the booking page. If the title of the movie is selected the app displays a page practically identical to the minimised responsive layout of the website.

Booking

As per the website there are two paths to the booking page one by directly clicking the time of the movie from the list of movies on the home screen. The other by clicking the title of the movie and then the “Get All Times & Tickets” button fixed to bottom of the screen. When this button is clicked a panel slides up with available times as well as a day filter found on the home screen.

Fig 14: VUE Mobile app
Fig 14: VUE Mobile App Time & Tickets                  Fig 15: VUE  Mobile App day 7 time filter

The loading screen screen (Fig 16) before the seat selection is a nice touch and uses a familiar tone of voice which reinforces the confidence and trust found through out the website and phone app.

Fig16: VUE loading screen
Fig 16: VUE Mobile loading screen

Seat and Ticket Selection

Seat and ticket selection is similar to that of the website, in that it uses a number of slide out menus (fig 18). Again these function seamless and prevent the user having to navigate to numerous pages to carry out any of the booking process.

Fig17: VUE seating srlection
Fig 17: VUE seating selection                                    Fig 18: VUE seating key

To Sum Up

Overall the VUE website and mobile phone app provide a consistent and seamless experience for booking cinema tickets. There has been great attention paid to detail through the use of clear chunking of data and labelling, a consistent colour palette, and the inclusion of functionality which reduces the confusion felt from navigating from one section to another. There is a lasting impression of great effort having to gone into the overall development.

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