Odeon relaunched its site this week, in partnership with Amaze and Krankikom.
Cinema sites are not renowned for great user experience, so how will this one shape up?
I've listed five positives from the site, and five areas for improvement...
It looks good
The site is well-presented, nice and clear, with good use of images.
It makes you want to investigate further, and contrasts well with sites such as Cineworld:
Nice use of reviews
This is great. This information helps when you're not sure what film to see, and a mix of 'professional' and consumer reviews covers the bases well.
Reviews are also well presented, in the Amazon style, with a summary of ratings, good and bad, and the number of reviews left. This allows customers to make a judgement even without reading individual reviews.
So here, an average of four stars from 150+ reviews tells me this might be worth watching (it's pretty good btw).
Auto-complete on search box
Auto-complete makes it easier for customers to search, and avoids the risk that searches will be misspelled and produce no results at all.
Clear timetables for each cinema
This may be an obvious thing, but so many cinema sites (yes, you Cineworld) make this more difficult than it needs to be.
Here, the films and showing times are clearly shown, along with filters to select only 3D, PG, afternoon films and so on.
Again, this should be a given, but cinema sites have been a little behind the times.
The checkout is well designed, with clear steps in the process, a persistent reminder of the purchase, time and cost, and easy to use forms.
Having to select cinema by drop-down
This could be done better. It's OK selecting cinemas from a drop-down, but the bigger the menu, the poorer the UX.
In this case, the menu is massive and fills the whole screen.
An option to search by postcode or town would be more useful to some users. If they don't know where the nearest cinema is, this drop-down doesn't help much.
The 'mobile site'
Here's how the site looks on mobile. Not very appealing, and certainly not easy to use:
Going to the movies can be an impulse thing for many people, so you would think a mobile-optimised site would be a priority for a cinema brand like Odeon.
Ideally, it should offer an optimised site, easy booking, and mobile ticketing to make the experience as easy as possible for the smartphone user.
UPDATE: there is a .mobi site, but since the main site doesn't redirect mobile visitors to it, it seems pretty pointless as new visitors will be unable to discover it.
Leaving visitors without navigation options
After selecting to view the trailer I'm left with nowhere to go after it finishes. No navigational links are anywhere to be seen.
You might think that, having seen the trailer, users should be shown a clear call to action to book the film, but no.
Well, actually, there is a blue 'book now' button but this only appears if you mouse over the bottom of the video player, but this is easily missed.
Those customers that don't see it are forced to use the back button to navigate back to the previous page. Sites should avoid dead-ends like this.
Key information below the fold
If I select information on a particular cinema, in this case Liverpool ONE, then the page I'm taken to doesn't make it obvious:
Until I scroll down, it isn't obvious that I'm viewing information for the Liverpool ONE cinema. As in other areas of the site, the banner ad and large carousel images push key information and links below the fold.
Now, I wouldn't argue that the fold is some sort of barrier not to be crossed for web users, but people need some indication of where they are, and some reason to scroll.
Site search needs improvement
Perhaps fewer people use site search on cinema sites, but I do think there are areas for improvement here.
It only seems to want you to search for movie names and so it returns no results for queries you would expect an answer for.
In this example, the site should show the comedy films available for booking, rather than leave me at a dead end.
On a similar note, while it's fine if you have a cinema or movie in mind, it isn't great for discovery and browsing. It could offer different ways for users to search e.g. what's available this Friday evening?, or which are the top rated comedy films?
Though I have listed five 'bad' things about the site, it is undoubtedly a massive improvement on the previous version, and most of the faults are fixable.
The key areas of the site work well, namely the booking and payment process, and it's much better than the sites of competitors like Vue.