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How Not To Build A Cinema Web Site

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User since: 14 Dec 1998

Articles written: 67

You go to the cinema to see a film. You go to the cinema's Web site to find out what's on,

and when (and maybe in the future, even see the movie itself), and you want to find this

information as quickly as possible. The Hoyts Cinemas

Web site can tell you what's on in your area, but it's a chore to find out. Personally, I

think that considering the current state of the Web, it's inexcusable to have such a poorly

structured cinema Web site.

The core of a cinema site are the session times - there is no doubt about this. During a

development process, this should be identified immediately, and the entire site should be

designed around this feature.

Let's step through using the Hoyts site, and see what we have to do to find out what's

showing and where:

  1. Enter the URL:

    href="" target="_blank" title="Opens new window">

  2. Click "What's On".

  3. Decide whether to search by Cinema or Movie (I'm going with Cinema).

  4. On the next page, select a state within Australia (I'm going with South


    Please note that on this screen, the "start over" button is located to the right of the

    "continue" button. You know how we think of progressing to the right? Well, if you jump to

    that right-hand button as you are so used to doing, you're back at the start of the process.

    I'm an impatient guy, and I do this nearly every visit. ;p

  5. Next page, choose the cinema location, and a date (I'm going with Norwood, and Tuesday

    28 March - cheapskate tuesday, mmmmm).

    Note that the "continue" button is on the far left again. Arghghhh.

  6. And finally, we have the session times.

So, what's that? 4 or 5 clicks? Maybe they remember (via a cookie, etc) which state and

cinema I chose, to speed up my next visit? Err, no... I have to repeat all those steps again

next time.

How could they simplify this process? Well, maybe put a search box on the frontdoor to

eliminate the selection of "What's On" every time. Or enable me to choose by cinema or movie,

AND my state at the same time. And the date of choice. That's easy enough, and drops one or

two unnecessary step.

They should also be "remembering" my location to better serve my needs on the next visit.

Their main competitor does this very effectively - when I hit their site, the movie times for

my preferred location are included on the frontdoor. Look mum, no clicks!

What can be learnt by the mistakes of those who designed this Web site?

  • Always remember that most people naturally read towards the right, and also, think of

    a form sequence in the same way. Progressive buttons should always be on the right-hand


  • Take care to reduce an unnecessarily long process. Don't simplify the selection method

    so much so that everyone is forced to click and wait 5+ times, just to find details which

    should be the easiest to find on the entire Web site.

  • Especially, consider implementing cookies that remember the previous choices of a

    user, and eliminate 90% of the process when they return.

If you can think of any other way to improve the session time selection process on this

particular Web site, add a comment below.

Isaac is a designer from Adelaide, South Australia, where he has run Triplezero for almost a decade.

He was a member and administrator of since its founding in 1998, designed the current site, and was a regular contributor on's direction-setting discussion list, theforum.

On the side, he runs Opinion, Hoops SA, Confessions, Daily Male, and Comments, as well as maintaining a travel gallery at

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