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Sites We’re Itching to Redesign: The Olympic Ticketing Website

By: Mary Barbour

We’re well into the 2012 Summer Olympics and the internet is buzzing with up-to-the-second reports on everything from fashion to bottle throwing incidents. One thing that has caught a lot of slack on Twitter is the design fail of the Olympic Ticketing Website. Nick Donnelly already posted a play-by-play of his hellish ticket purchasing experience, so we will spare you the gory details and touch on a few basic things the site designers could have done to spare their users a whole lot of agony.

The first, overarching problem with the whole thing is the complete lack of Information Heirarchy. Logically, a ticketing website would make it easy for a user to find tickets. The “call to action” for ticket sales should overpower everything else on the page.  Not the case with the Olympic site.

The images don’t link to anything. There is a whole lot of small text telling me things I don’t really need to know. Finally, I see a tab in the upper portion of the page called “How to Purchase Tickets.” But clicking this only leads to another text-heavy page.

I scroll through 10 seconds of instructions on how to purchase tickets. What would happen if Ticketmaster was designed this way?

After that comes the search function.

Instead of eliminating sold out events, or otherwise informing you that tickets are no longer available, the site insists that you search for, select, and request tickets for a certain event in order to find out that it’s sold out. Users could save hours if the site was designed to filter out events that were already filled.  Seems like a no-brainer, right? (This is the lengthy and frustrating experience that prompted a number of highly publicized Tweets such as Patrick Warburton’s.)

As if this experience isn’t nightmarish enough on a home computer, the site is not optimized for mobile use, thus debilitating all the foreign travelers who left their laptops at home.

Last but not least, is the overall design itself. Nothing about the site even hints at the Olympic brand. The graphics are generic and the layout is lackluster. It’s unpleasant enough when a site sacrifices an appealing design for functionality, or vice-versa, but to fail on all accounts is…well, it’s very un-Olympic.

Many of the issues on the Olympic site could have been combatted with a little testing. And if this were your kid sister’s middle school punk band selling tickets to their bi-annual performance at the County Fair, I’d say bravo on the effort!  But…it’s the Olympics. They happen every 2 years. Testing should have been an integral part of the process, not only to save time for its users but also to uphold the reputation of the Olympics as a congregation of only the best of the best in the world!

Fortunately, it’s doubtful that ticket sales are suffering because people are willing to devote hours and hours to something as enviable as seats to an Olympic event. But this years design team should probably not count on taking home any medals.

Hit US up in 2014 and we’ll make sure no one is complaining about buying tickets for the Winter Olympics…unless they’re talking about the cost of flights to Sochi.

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