A quick user experience critique – today let us consider the highly-produced, graphically superior and utterly useless Royal Easter Show web site.

Actors: Shan and me; a mid 30s couple in Sydney, Australia

Task: to discover what is on at the show ("Australia’s biggest event") tomorrow, so that we can plan a day out at the kids. Further, to buy some tickets.

Right. First, there are 16 top-level navigation items, too much to bother reading. Let’s check out Activities for Kids. Hang on, isn’t the entire show pretty much for kids? Apparently not, as this page lists two animal attractions and ice-cream, and gives some line drawings to colour in (the single least creative activity you can induce a child to undertake voluntarily). Alright then, let’s try Visitor Information. Once again, hunh? Isn’t this whole website visitor information? Deeper still there is Essential Information which starts by telling me about a colour supplement that I could have bought in last week’s newspaper, and continues with information about wheelchair charging stations (certainly essential to some, so why not put it under Accessibility Information, where those with an interest could have found it?), plus some scattered info on buses and taxis (put here rather than the adjacent Transport and How to Get to the Show links for, I suppose, kicks.

At least there is a map here. We can see it’s a PDF, so fortunately right-click and Save the file instead of a left-click which would attempt to load it in the browser. I say fortunately, because this 1.1MB file first stalls, and then on the second attempt takes half an hour to download on our broadband connection. When we get it, it’s formatted for an A3 printer. Dear Easter Show – very few people have an A3 printer. Fortunately we can scale it down and print it to A4.

Aha – on the home page we spot a link entitled My Show Planner. Excellent! Except that clicking it rewards us only with Server Error in ‘/Planner’ Application. Microsoft .NET Framework Version:1.1.4322.2300 (etc.)

More looking around… under About the 2008 Show (isn’t the whole site about the 2008 show? What is with these names?) we can see Daily highlights. Bravo! A comprehensive list of what’s on, when and where. Only it’s for today, and the show closed for today hours ago, and there is no link to the schedule for tomorrow.

OK, let’s buy a ticket, and find out how much the rides are. I’m getting as tired of this as you are, so I’ll just say quickly that the Ticket Information page doesn’t tell you where you can buy them, and certainly doesn’t sell them online, and that five clicks down, you can find out that ride coupons are a dollar each, but not how many coupons you need for a ride. Fine – time to sleep. Bah!

One Response to “Webjunk”

  1. viveka says:

    Tragically the site has now changed, so my links above won’t show you the same examples of pure fail as before. However the 2009 site has all new fail! For example, if I try clicking on the Tickets link, in order to find out how much they are and where I can get them, I am redirected to:


    which tells me

    There appears to be a problem…

    You are using a version of the Safari browser that has problems when printing our Print at Home tickets.

    Please download the latest Fire Fox browser by clicking here and use Firefox to print your tickets.

    OK, a few quibbles here. First, I don’t want to print a ticket, I just want to know how much they are. However this page comes up instead, with no way to get around it and no further information.

    Second, if you had time to make a browser sniffer and a redirect page, you had time to fix the damn ticket printing function instead. Printing is not a special browser-specific function. Cross-browser coding is a basic competency for a web agency, like being able to add and subtract numbers up to twenty.

    Third. I *am* using Firefox.

Leave a Reply