Tickets.com, a major online ticket broker owned by MLB.com (Major League Baseball) has launched a mobile version of their service at mobile.tickets.com. Tickets.com handles tickets for events around the world ranging from chamber music concerts to professional wrestling.
The mobile site uses a two-level hierarchical menu with top level categories of “Sports”, “Concerts”, “Arts” and “Family Events” each of which is divided into a dozen or more additional categories. There’s also a search box.
Mobile ticketing is something I’d be likely to use when, for example, I’m out with friends and someone gets the idea that it might be fun to go to a comedy club. Unfortunately this site has a serious usability flaw, especially for mobile. There is no way to filter events by location or date. In the mobile context, you generally want something today and nearby. Clicking one of the subcategories returns a list of all events of that genre anywhere in the world for the next two weeks. I don’t see that as being very useful.
I tried to find a way to make it work for finding a comedy performance here in San Francisco, preferably tonight. I launched mobile.tickets.com and clicked on Arts (comedy IS an art) and found nothing, so I did a search for “comedy” and see that it’s under concerts. I go there and get a huge scrolling list of about 60 comics and venues, just their names. I click a few and see that they are performing somewhere thousands of miles away or a week from now, not helpful. A search for “comedy San Francisco” returns hits for the main comedy section listing the 60 comics and for the the San Francisco Giants, 49ers and Symphony. A search for “comedy and San Francisco” returns nothing, again not helpful.
There’s another pretty big mobile usability flaw with this site, what I call dead end links. Remember that search for comedy in San Francisco that returned hits for the Giants and 49’ers?. I don’t know why the Giants are even listed, the season is over, their next game is months away. But the Niners do have a home game next Sunday, I wonder if tickets are available? So click the link and get the message “We are working to mobilize this section of our site, please visit the HTML version and check back soon.” Why link to something that doesn’t exist? That’s just wasting the user’s time.
If you do find an event you would like to book on mobile.tickets.com you can do so fairly easily provided you have registered with your credit card on tickets.com’s full-web site. If you haven’t you can still buy the ticket using a credit card but you will need to fill out at least 10 fields; your complete billing address, email, phone etc. I can’t imagine very many people doing this. At this point there should be an option to complete the booking with a phone call, but there isn’t, In fact, Tickets.com’s phone number is nowhere to be found on the mobile site! If Tickets.com doesn’t want to deal with phone orders, they should consider providing an option to purchase tickets using Paypal or Google Checkout, both of which have mobile purchasing options that are much easier to use than credit cards.
Mobile Link: mobile.tickets.com
Ratings: Content: Usability:
WapReview Directory – Search/Local
Buy Movie Tickets on Mobile MSN
It’s amazing how many new mobile sites for major brands are as badly done as Tickets.com.
I believe that a major part of the problem is that the site is built using a tool that allows the publisher to pick elements of a full web page and rearrange them on a mobile page with a transcoder converting the web elements to mobile. It’s a quick and dirty approach to mobile although I suspect it’s not cheap.
Great review! Fascinating that the designs we worked on for exactly this problem back in HDML and WML 1.1 days didn’t get moved forward.
This is another example of a site that merely miniaturized, and didn’t mobilize.