App Developer Uses Mixpanel to send Qataris to the Movies

Abubaker Omer is a student at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. He’s also a movie buff and goes to the cinema whenever he can. He especially looks forward to seeing a flick when one particular friend returns home from abroad. “We go to the movies quite frequently,” said Omer. “But I always get annoyed when we’re outdoors and I have to turn on my data plan to be able to see showtimes.” So Omer did what any computer science student would do: he created an app to simplify his movie excursions.

Omer finished building out the app before the start of Spring semester in January 2019. He uploaded Qatar Movies to the app store so his friend could download it. What happened next stunned Omer. “Qatar Movies took off at the university,” he said. “I was expecting that the number of downloads or weekly active users would go down quickly, but it never did.”

Qatar Movies had only been available for download for a few months when data from Mixpanel Live View and Insights reports revealed ways Omer could improve user experience. As a result, app downloads continued to grow week over week. “I realized every two months I’m getting 10 times more weekly active users. It went from 10 to 100, and now it’s 1,000.”

"From the very first version of my app, I used Mixpanel." - Abubaker Omer, Qatar Movies App Creator

Why Qatar Movies Chose Mixpanel

Before the university student came up with the idea for Qatar Movies, he was a hard-working intern at one of the top startups in Qatar and the Middle East. That’s also where he was introduced to Mixpanel and the value data brings to growth. “From the very first version of my app, I used Mixpanel,” said Omer.

User Experience Improvements with Mixpanel

Live View Feed is the Key to Data-Driven Improvements

Omer spends a lot of time analyzing user behavior with Mixpanel’s Live View feed. He categorizes metrics in typical ways, like what days users tend to log in to the app. But Omer is more interested in deeper dives, such as honing in on power users and capturing their habits. This process helped Omer improve his UX strategy by creating a clearer entry point to features that users weren’t aware of. For example, in an earlier iteration of the app, after purchasing tickets, users would have to click “Done,” which would take them to a screen where moviegoers could access a navigation app or book an Uber.

In existing movie-booking apps, the last step for users is the ticket purchase. So in Qatar Movies, users didn’t realize that waiting behind the “Done” button on the booking page were more features that help simplify the user’s movie-going experience even more. Once Omer replaced the previously ignored “Done” button with icons for Uber, Google Maps, and Waze, “after-booking” activity jumped about 50 percent. A car icon placed on other pages in the app took users straight to an Uber-booking or a navigation app. These tweaks were especially advantageous for users who wanted to see movie times, but did not want to purchase tickets through Qatar Movies. Replacing the “Done” button was a huge improvement and led to “40 percent of people that purchased tickets also clicked buttons that took them to after-booking screens,” said Omer.

Qatar Movies Features Validated Using Data From Mixpanel Insights Reports

Omer’s process for upgrading Qatar Movies is pretty straightforward. He analyzes his Mixpanel data, adds new features, then tracks how user behavior in the app changed. He’s never locked in to any one decision. “Sometimes I actually add something that I previously deleted. Or I put it somewhere else,” said Omer. Adding movie recommendations to the home screen is an example of how Omer relies on data when testing new features. After analyzing Insights reports, for example, he believed cinephiles using Qatar Movies wanted a movie recommendations feature. But instead, “people were very annoyed by it,” said Omer. So he removed it.

Each time he adds a new feature or takes one away, Omer learns more about what his users want. The most important thing is using data to validate keeping or discarding features. Sometimes Omer finds that his best move is to leave well enough alone.

"Usage of the after-booking transportation screen skyrocketed. Now it's common behavior after purchasing tickets. So, thanks Mixpanel!" - Abubaker Omer, Qatar Movies App Creator

What's next?

“There is a huge potential for socialization that is not being utilized by other cinema apps,” said Omer. So he plans to capitalize on that. He’s considering letting users socialize in a way that is similar to Twitter, or let users post memes or GIFs.

Another goal for Qatar Movies is related to developing a more dynamic way to display movie reviews. He’s not exactly sure what this feature will end up looking like. “Hopefully,” said Omer, “testing these new features will lead to the kinds of interactions people want.”