I read a great piece by Nick Donelly on the Usability Hell website, showing the sheer UX nightmare that is the London 2012 ticket website

I also heard on Five Live yesterday that, though more tickets are being released to fill in the empty spaces seen at venues, people can’t just turn up on the day, they need to book online.

This means they have to face one of the worst ticketing websites ever…

Nick sums the issues up in his piece, which is well worth a read, so I’ll just summarise a few of the frustrations, and look at whether it’s possible to book via mobile. 

Searching for tickets

After setting up an account and confirming this via email, you then have the task of searching for an event with tickets available. Now, with an intuitive search interface and some decent options for  filtering out the events you’re not interested in, that shouldn’t be too difficult. 

However, this is a site which, as Nick points out, appears to have been designed with very little consideration for usability. 

As the site says, they can only search for tickets for you once you have searched, added them to your basket, and selected ‘request tickets’.

In practice, you have to search again an again, hoping that one of the event results shows a select button, which means you then have the chance that said tickets might just be available. 

After pressing select, there are some of the worst examples of captchas I’ve seen. It took several attempts to find one I could decipher:

I see the need to avoid touts, but you have to give people a chance. While I’m figuring this out, someone else might be buying my tickets… 

(Yes, we do have a captcha on Econsultancy for non-logged in users, but a) it’s not as bad as this one (I hope)and b)it is necessary to reduce the flood of spam comments.)

So, once you have searched and found an event, it’s the moment of truth. Are the tickets you selected actually available? This means you see this screen a lot:

Then this one: 

I went through these steps five times without finding a single ticket I could actually purchase. It’s unbelievably bad. 

The frustration…

Not surprisingly, this fiasco has led to plenty of angry comments on Twitter: 

I mentioned mobile before as, since London is full of people who may want to attend events with tickets being released at the last minute, this seems the ideal platform for filling empty spaces.

Also, since people cannot buy tickets from the box office and have to book online, mobile would have been the perfect way to solve this issue. Of course, there is no mobile optimised site or app, and only a very patient person could go through the ticket buying process on mobile without breaking down. 

Considering the money being spent on the games, and the number of people wanting to attend events, the state of this website is truly shocking. At a time when people are complaining about empty spaces at venues, here is a site almost designed to deter users from buying tickets. 

As Nick says: 

Ticketing is a VITAL part of the Olympics. LOCOG should have had a senior person overviewing ticketing & online that understands the Web, UX & Usability and ensured the ticketing process wasn’t an afterthought & awful hack.

If this was not the Olympics, and the tickets were available elsewhere, this site would fail completely, As it is, there are enough people desperate for tickets that they will persevere despite the awful user experience. 

It’s just a shame that so many people’s time will be wasted because it was beyond the capabilities of LOCOG to design (and test) a site that conformed to some basic usability principles.