Star Cinema (2013)
The biggest Philippine rom-coms and family dramas. John Lloyd Cruz. Kris Aquino’s horror movie reactions. The highest-grossing Pinoy comedy films.
We worked with the producer (and distributor) of the Philippines’ most popular and highest-grossing movies to redesign their official online portal.
The One-liner Brief
Star Cinema wanted their website to be the top-of-mind destination for anything and everything about their brand.
Elements to consider
In our desire to apply design thinking, we needed to study and optimize three elements: Consumer needs, Client vision and Capabilities (Resources: Manpower and workflow, time constraints, technological feasibility).
For Star Cinema, I worked on 5 main phases of product development.
A website is an expensive thing to make and manage. Any additional features to be developed mean additional cost.
This means you have to be very clear about the site objectives, and the features integral to the objective, for any website to be worth Client’s money.
2) Listening to consumers
A product is only as strong as its consumers’ relationship to it.
To find the perfect role for the website, we needed to find: what people loved about the brand, and their current behavior regarding the category (and the current website).
After the user research, we did a story-sharing session (a process outline can be seen in the Ideo website), where we distilled the most engaging opportunities for our consumers.
The next step was balancing this with Client objectives and resources.
3) Content Strategy
Using what we learned from consumers, we conducted a workshop with our Clients to see how the consumer needs could be satisfied through the website, while fulfilling business objectives.
We drew out what kinds of content and features would bring the objectives to life.
Part of the workshop was prioritizing which features were crucial and nice-to-haves, given the typical budget, time and editorial realities.
4) Editorial Workflow
Digital properties are dynamic – they’re platforms for real-time, adaptive interaction, which translates to real-time, always-on content publishing and editorial management.
This puts is a lot of pressure on any team managing a digital property expected to be a “one-stop shop” or a “go-to site for first-to-break information”.
To make sure the website fulfills objectives, we needed to help the editorial team, by facilitating what they need for populating and maintaining the site.
We, then, drew out the main pain points in workflow and the ideal scenario, and presented solutions to top executives to get support for the editorial team.
5) Building the Design and Architecture
We audited the digital properties of various foreign movie outfits, and analyzed the potential business benefits and consumer behavior of each.
As I collaborated with the editors and Clients, we also worked with interface designers — on the content priorities and the branding requests to create wireframes and look-and-feel studies for the Client. With the developers, we also laid out the groundwork for a category and tagging system, for the editors to neatly section where their content goes.
Putting it together: How we used digital to help solve the business problem
Uncovering the True Challenges
The primary business challenge of Star Cinema is diminishing ticket revenue, because of:
First, pirated DVDs encroached on the business, and later on, Torrent files and streaming video copies.
2. Growing free options for entertainment.
Also because of the Internet, consumers now have many more entertainment options. We’re no longer just confined to TV and radio as mainstream media sources, unlike in the 80’s and early 90’s.
More free options = higher competition for eyeballs, and higher barrier to payment.
Aside from theater revenue, there was also a revenue issue, specifically for digital:
3. Brand dilution, leading to inefficient digital production.
The former scenario was that each movie’s producers and marketers commissioned their own website, whenever a movie would come out. That’s at least 12 movies a year, or 12 separate website production cost calculations. Due to fragmented online platforms, cost, revenue and fan involvement are also “scattered”.
Product Strategy: From a la carte development, to a one-stop library
For the product to work, we had to streamline the goals and plans, aligned to the vision of the digital head of the brand*.
*After overseeing both tactical and strategic digital projects over many years, I learned that this is the ideal depth of understanding of the Client’s needs when creating platforms or long-term digital strategy. The conversation has to go beyond just the “pageviews” or expected technological features. You have to have a conversation about what kind of role digital plays in his or her dreams for the brand.
His vision was for the Star Cinema brand to be locally popular, globally unique, reliable and in-touch with what its countrymen look for in a film. I loved that it was about Star Cinema staying true to its local roots.
Consumer Behavior: Fan love
I loved seeing extreme fan love in action — hearing a story about how one can revolve her schedule and budget around the stars that loves to follow. This validated the Client’s vision of creating content around the planning of a film, and not just uploading content after its launch.
Because drive-to-platform is the top business-critical objective of the website (the top objective — legitimacy — is more of a branding and content guideline), we drew out that the key measure for that would be clicked links referring users to the official viewing channels of the brand.
Because of this, we made sure that each page’s main feature linked to a call-to-action prompting a user one step closer to viewing the movie on an official platform (whether it’s a movie theater, the official global viewing website or a DVD retailer.
The Livestream and Events pages were also critical, as these were main touchpoints for interfacing with fans, and would help build the living, breathing, updated quality of the website.
The Facebook timeline and calendar mobile apps were our inspiration for the wireframes. The goal was for fans to easily find what Events they could visit, hence the events were filtered between Upcoming, sorted by the “latest” or closest date, and Previous.
Look and Feel
The Star Cinema site was requested to look feminine and emotionally-rich, to cater to the main genres and target audience of the brand.