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I'm creating an app to help organize what movies you do and do not want to watch while also help facilitate movie discovery. Movies are pulled in through iTunes and Rottentomatoes. The first view of the app is a large list of movies that the user can either add to a list or blacklist.

The UX approach I'm after is directly inspired by the iOS app Mailbox. I want the main list of movies to be where the user can discover new movies that come in.

Here is my dilemma. Currently I'm sorting this list based on theatrical release date. However when you search for a term, say you're looking for "The Wolf of Wallstreet" and you search for "wolf", the app will pull down a lot of movies with "wolf" in it. Every movie gets added to the local database and then populates this main search feed. After a couple generic searches its easy to clutter up the main movie list with lots of things. Sometimes movies that are on Rottentomatoes aren't released for years but still show up in searches.

I've been trying to find ways to sort movies appropriately and avoid overloading the user with a list of movies that are incomplete and years away from release. I just can't seem to find a balance between relevancy and convenience all while not restricting what a user can find (maybe they really want to add that movie coming out in 2016 to their list?)

Any help or discussion would be greatly appreciated.

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Are you looking for help from an algorithmic standpoint? I'm not sure I see a clear UX question. As it is currently worded this seems like answers would be more along the lines of how to come up with an algorithm for improving the quality of the results. –  Charles Wesley Jan 28 at 18:12

2 Answers 2

It isn't totally clear what you are currently doing, but I would suggest that the results of multiple searches shouldn't be in the list at the same time; as you have seen, this presents an overwhelming number of movies.

Instead, have either

  1. no search entered, some default list (e.g. most popular right now - this could become tailored to the user as they build their own list); or
  2. search entered, just results for that search.

When the search is deleted/cancelled, return to the default list and dump the search results.

The sort of either list should be a user selection (e.g. release date, rating, ...).

As for the second part of your question, perhaps have "show unreleased films" as a user setting and add highlighting to your list to make it clear which are currently available.

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+1 for the unreleased and highlighting suggestion. –  JohnP Jan 28 at 20:32

I think you are doing a bit of beating your head against the wall, while trying to reinvent the wheel.

I would suggest looking at a couple of real estate sites, Zillow and Trulia. Each of them features a selection page where people can either expand or narrow their selection at any time. This is done by various selection criteria such as "3 bedroom 2+ bath on 15,000 sqft lot". You can either search for all residences for sale (and upcoming, such as the "Make me move" and pending foreclosures) in an area, or you can limit it.

You can also save searches, which I think would serve you well. A user could create a search "All unreleased movies in the next 2 years about superheroes", and then rather than storing the lists that get created, you simply store the queries that created them, and provide an edit/delete feature that they can self manage.

Along with that, you can offer such bonus items as automatic alerts when a movie is released, when it comes out on DVD, etc.

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