Why the Future of MoviePass Depends on Updating Its Online User Experience

In the age of successful streaming services, the subscription-based movie ticketing service, MoviePass, offers an alternative that allows you to enjoy the same unlimited viewing privileges while bringing back the experience of actually stepping outside your house to go to the theater.

With declining numbers of moviegoers in the past years, this could be a win-win-win for theaters, customers, and MoviePass — if executed correctly.

A big draw is the low prices; MoviePass is only $9.95 a month. For most people, this means that you could hypothetically see one movie a day, every day, for less than going to the movies once.

To many people, this purchase is a no-brainer. So why are card-holders unsatisfied? You might chalk it up to their mobile and web user experience.

For those who are unfamiliar, MoviePass works like this: you can reserve your ticket the day of the showing through the mobile app if you’re 100 feet from the theater. Once you reserve a seat, your MoviePass card, which acts as a debit card, is loaded with funds that you can use to go and purchase the movie at the theater you selected.

What is not explicitly stated is that you should do so only 30 minutes before purchasing your ticket at the theater. They try to enforce this with location services, but what happens if you’re nearby the theater and try to check in for the 9 PM movie at 6 PM without buying tickets right away? This might not have been tested by MoviePass, but it has been tested by MoviePass users.

Once the check in surpasses a certain amount of time, the app goes into a sort of limbo saying that you have a pending reservation. What you ideally need to do is cancel the reservation and re-check in at a time closer to your movie, but the app doesn’t allow you to do that without contacting customers service — and well, this can be challenging.

In order to buy your tickets and make it to the movie on time, your next instinct might be to go to the website and check in from there.

Unfortunately, the mobile app is supplemented by a web experience that aims to attract audiences rather than retain current customers.

The only action it allows you to do other than learn more about MoviePass is to sign up for an account. With no option to log into your account or reserve your seats, the website does little to ease the frustration of the user if they encounter an issue within the mobile app.

While we can appreciate the web application’s effort to coerce more moviegoers, that doesn’t seem to be the only problem.

Visiting the MoviePass website on a variety of browsers, including but not limited to Safari, Chrome, and Internet Explorer, and across different devices and operating systems, there are many inconsistencies. Some of these inconsistencies even included missing Call To Actions for users to sign up for the product. For a company who is trying to convert their website traffic to customers, this should raise a serious red flag.

Additionally, Internet Explorer 10 proved to be a big issue for MoviePass as the website was completely unsupported.

For many, IE may be a fossil browser from the early days of the internet, so it’s not a priority for support. Yet, there’s evidence that an older demographic continues to use Internet Explorer, meanwhile its research also suggests that that very age group is likely to go to the movies. At the very least, IE users should be able to access the MoviePass website.

Unfortunately it seems that MoviePass has targeted a millennial base without much consideration of older users or older browsers. However, it doesn’t seem that they’ve nailed recent or popular browsers yet either.

A common misconception with UI functional web testing is that minor browser updates won’t affect how your page works. This is actually when visual regression testing is crucial. After code commitment takes place, screenshots should be taken and compared to the previously stored versions of your website.

Want to make sure the graphics you used still appear, or that the text doesn’t overlap due to a change in font size? Visual testing can help you quickly identify these issues in an instant. A nicer web experience for the customer leads to trust in the company and products.

Many people assume that since an application worked in Chrome 63 it will also work in Chrome 64, but this isn’t always the case.

MoviePass shows us why this is strategy may not be completely valid. After visiting MoviePass on Chrome 64, the latest version of the browser, we noticed that no visuals loaded in the space where the website explains how MoviePass works.

A picture speaks a thousand words, and without any, it definitely makes the user’s journey of understanding how to work MoviePass more difficult. We are going to bet that this is not the look that MoviePass was going for.

Now, going back to our point on the target customers for MoviePass — millennials. Millennials are often early-adopters, meaning they are always using the latest and greatest technology, whether that be new devices, or the latest versions of operating systems and web browsers.

Additionally, many people nowadays have auto-updates on, meaning they will often be using the latest version of a browser without even noticing anything changed — that is until they come across a website that is missing crucial information.

While MoviePass may be beloved by film buffs everywhere, we’re living in a generation that expects more from technology. Where most successful products depend on successful software, MoviePass’s achievement in user downloads could be its downfall if it disappoints too many customers with a faulty mobile and web experience.

In order to keep up with consumers’ high standards, implementing the right testing is crucial. Tools like CrossBrowserTesting and TestComplete provide the ability to assess these factors before customers complain. As MoviePass scales to meet the demand of movie addicts everywhere, they will first have to revamp their software to support better usability.


  1. Steven Padilla says:

    Spot on analysis of both the technological downfalls and missed opportunities with target audiences. I have enjoyed my MoviePass for the past several months but it took Herculean effort–and a significant leap of faith–to get through the initial set-up. It wasn’t until I was actually sitting in my seat for that first movie that I was finally convinced I hadn’t been hoodwinked.

    I would love to get my parents on the MoviePass train but I live quite a distance from them. The thought of trying to talk them through all of that hassle over the phone is more horrifying than any movie I may see this year.

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