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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...

Five good...

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. 

Guest checkout

Again, this should be a given, but cinema sites have been a little behind the times. 

Guest checkout removes a potential barrier to purchase, while the Facebook login adds another easy option for those that want it. 

Smooth checkout

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. 

Five bad...

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? 

In summary

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. 

Graham Charlton

Published 4 September, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Barry Rutter, Digital Marketing Manager at Reed Exhibitions

Used the site last week. Glad to see the Flash was dumped, but so painfully slow I gave up on the booking service.

Probably just launch gremlins!

almost 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Barry - it was slow at times for me. I didn't mention it as I had been having broadband issues and wondered whether that was the problem.

almost 3 years ago

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Mark Morton

I hope it's good from an accessibility point of view. Matthew Somerville (@dracos) took them to task nine years ago: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/07/14/odeon_disabled_website/

almost 3 years ago

Daniel Phillips

Daniel Phillips, E-Commerce Manager at HJ Hall

Was about to post about Odeon's past accessibility issues, but Mark beat me to it.

I remember that Odeon launched a new site soon after that, and it still didn't address the accessibility issues that had been highlighted. Basically, they didn't seem to value accessibility and the users with accessibility issues - which is strange as most (all?) cinemas seem to cater for people with disabilities with wheelchair access, facilities for those with hearing difficulties, etc.

almost 3 years ago

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Mat Fay

Failure to test the new site thoroughly prior to launch left venues without film listings, their Port Solent venue was intermittently rendering a film list on the default 'By day' tab for days after launch. The film listings aren't displayed clearly - you need to scroll before they're visible and some uppercase fonts aren't rendering well. Search ranking took a hit too, a drop of 2 pages on Google must have impacted non-brand organic traffic for this location, it looks like they haven't closed the door on the old site either as you can still access the old design via: http://promo.odeon.co.uk/fanatic/film_times/s15/Port_Solent/
Preparation for relaunch could have been much better!

almost 3 years ago

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Robin Parker

Seems a bit odd in this day and age to launch a brand new site that isn't in some way responsive, and even stranger that the new site doesn't redirect you to the current mobile site on mobile devices. I can only assume there's a new mobile solution on the way, otherwise their bounce rate on mobile devices is going to go through the roof

almost 3 years ago

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nICOLA

I have been trying to book a film for nearly an hour on this website and it basically doesn't work. Drop down menus do not appear - I'm just going round in circles. Has it crashed or something?

almost 3 years ago

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Chris Holt

None of the drop downs work on my Apple computer. Have been told that they are still working on these glitches but it has been a few weeks now. I am surprised these problems were not sorted out before the site went live.

almost 3 years ago

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Brian Goddard

I am unable to access the Odeon site with ie10, just land on a page telling me to upgrade from ie8 to ie9. Anybody else with this problem

almost 3 years ago

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Simon

I have found the new Odeon site to be absolutely dreadful. You go round and round in circles trying to book at film at local cinema.

Doesn't work with older versions of internet explorer. Very hit and miss trying to login using Ipad and slow, slow slow. I am using fast fibre broadband.

I still don't get why you get ripped off for a booking fee when using the odeon website. Surely it makes it easier for them as you are not having to queue up for tickets etc.

almost 3 years ago

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Linda

It took me a while to discover that on the new site each drop-down menu does not drop down by clicking the arrow next to it, as happens with most websites, but you have to click the box itself. It still feels odd to have to do this.

Also, when booking tickets, the seat selection method has changed, which caused me a problem. We used to have our people shapes in a side panel to drag-and-drop into available seats, which I think were indicated by people shapes in a different colour to those already booked. Am I remembering this wrongly? Now there is no side panel and you simply click on the seats you want which change them from blank to having people shapes. My problem was that when I had a quick look yesterday to see how many seats near the back had gone, I didn't understand the new format and thought all the blue people-shapes meant these seats were available, so I left my booking until I was less busy. I've just returned to make my booking and found there's only one of my preferred seats left - not enough - so I've had to book us in seats near the front. The new design is logical and I'll know how to use it next time, but it's been a bad start for me.

almost 3 years ago

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