I was forwarded an interesting press release from Odeon about their newly redesigned website which included some interesting comments such as that it has already been awarded the ‘Hitwise Award’ 2005.
The moment you first load the new front page you can see that the redesigned site is completely different to the old Odeon website. Instead of being black and using lots of scripting to run the menus the new site is white and doesn’t use any scripts.
The navigation of the website is very straightforward. On the left-hand side are the main five tasks a visitor is likely to want (cinema finder, film finder, register, login, great offers). The main content always appears in the middle of the page; while the home page gives you summary information on films which are currently showing; and the option to quickly book a film, using either a flash or non-flash version. At the top of the page there are other options, such as company information, FAQs and a helpful site map.
Booking a film is straightforward and includes the screen which the film is being screen in, for people where this is important. However, it is sad to see that users are charged a handling fee of 65p per ticket. There is also the option to pick your seat when the screening has reserved seating. Interesting as according to the press release 10% of Odeon’s tickets are bought on-line. At the ‘Quick Book’ system allows users to store their payment details online, so that when booking tickets it is just a case of entering a password. The booking system is certainly fast and easy to use, especially if you have a favourite cinema selected.
Hidden away in the site is some fantastic information for the cinema enthusiast. You are able to select your favourite cinema so that you can always find out what is on at your local cinema. However, there is quite a lot of information associated with each cinema icnluding: Cinema Information (Contact Information, General Manager, Location, Public Transport, Driving Directions, Local Facilities, Disabled Facilities, Education, Conferences), Auditorium Information (number of seats and sound system in each screen, number of wheelchair spaces).
The ‘About Us’ section gives a very nice potted history to Odeon and who has owned the company over the years.
One of the big selling points of the press release was that it was now accessible to those with disabilities. Certainly viewing the site as text only in a Linux window all the content can be seen and it is also possible to book tickets, as it is when images are turned off in IE. There are also options to increase and decrease the font six of the page.
It does seem to be a little slow on download times, especially for those still on dial up modems, but this will largely be to down to the number of graphics it uses per page.
This site works equally well in Internet Explorer as it does in Firefox, and is perfectly navigatable in a text only browser.
|Connection Rate||Download Time|
|ISDN 128K||14.64 seconds|
|T1 1.44Mbps||1.27 seconds|
Good Design: *****
Overall: This is a very well designed site and is a great improvement on the old one. It is light and not too cluttered, it is easy to navigate and find the content you want. The biggest thing which lets it down is the download times for modems. It is fair to say that the claims made in the press release for this upgrade were all accurate and infact it is very difficult to find anything nagative to say about it!
Testing Information: This site is tested using a laptop at 1024 x 768 resolution running Windows XP, Firefox Version 126.96.36.199 and Internet Explorer 6 over a 512K Broadband connection. For the text only test Lynx on a Linux Server is used. A website entitled WebSiteOptimization.com is used to test the web site to calculate the download speeds.