Watching movies is a common form of procrastination at SCAD. Despite the musty theaters in the area, there’s something magical about sitting in a cinema with a bucket of popcorn while generally beautiful people live on screen. With a popular interest in pop culture—especially at an art school—it becomes easy to push that art history paper to the deepest depths of a to-do list and do a quick Google search for what movies are currently showing. On the first page of results is most likely Fandango.
Fandango is a company that strives to make the movie ticket buying experience as efficient as possible. Since the early 2000s the company has grown in reach and popularity. In 2007, it was bought by Comcast. In early 2011, it merged with NBCUniversal and in March 2012, Fandango became the official partner and ticket provider of Yahoo! Movies. Today, Fandango provides trailers, movie clips, movie news and some original content. Their target market is large, but clear: movie lovers.
Earlier this month, Fandango surprised the internet with a redesign of their website—including an updated logo. The color scheme remains the same but the layout is completely different. Though the aesthetics are definitely improved, there are many elements that still need a little tweaking to make it as user friendly as possible.
The old layout greeted visitors with a large rectangular billboard that often had slideshow capabilities. The website was gridded into two main columns, the right being wider than the left, with smaller columns and rows within them.
The new site is now a single column with images that span across an entire row. A slightly irritating banner greets the user at the top of the page, followed by a menu bar, a horizontal slider with current movie tickets and another ad. The ads do not help users want to stay on the site and their placement actually makes the menu bar seem like a footer at first glance. The horizontal slider has awkward diagonal borders on either side that do nothing to benefit the design (this is the only instance of diagonal directional flow).
While the layout is definitely trendy—in fact, it looks just like many one-page scroll site templates available for download on the internet—the purpose of the website changes drastically.
The search bar at the top does a good job of condensing all search queries to a single bar versus the prior site that had a different section for movie titles, current city and actor names. A minimal complaint would be that the typeface choice seems to be the default Times New Roman Italic (or something similar), which does not suit the more modern Sans Serif type choice in the rest of the site. It becomes clear later on that this typographical choice is found throughout the page, yet its placement still does nothing to redeem this dated choice.
The logo at the top is a marked improvement as it loses the drop shadow and makes the mark easier to register on any material at any size. The new orange color is also more attractive and competes less with the dense amount of information on the site.
The menu bar is cleverly condensed to a drop-down style. It becomes easily digestible and faster to find information. However, the transition to the drop-down is jarring. The sub-menu suddenly appears without a smooth flow. And moving the mouse off the menu makes it disappear just as quickly. The rapid motion is not only difficult but gives the feeling of being frantic as well. This does not bode well, assuming most websites want users to explore for as long as possible.
The creative minds behind the site redesign seem to be pushing Fandango’s other services more than just movie tickets. This is apparent as the more a user scrolls down, the more he sees video content, interviews, photo galleries and special discount offers. The page finally ends with a list of new and upcoming movies. Since the majority of the site is now filled with other content, this will logically increase the readership of these pages. However, because the new design is very image heavy with colors that often compete, the site looks a lot denser and more intimidating. The design could definitely benefit from a little breathing room—particularly between sections and images in the tiled image galleries. This would also improve the typographical hierarchy of the design as the images overpower the header treatments. In fact, it’s difficult to tell which section of the page one is currently looking at. The same problem is apparent on other content pages.
The footer is very successful. Aside from a little more typographical hierarchy once again—the links underneath the headers could be a size smaller—information is easy to find. Original icons for social media and links to an app store tie the whole design together.
It’s definitely suspect that this design is a commonly used framework, but it’s most surprising that the design does not work well responsively. While many areas of the site do adjust with the screen, the designers did not take into account image resolution (some images fill the whole page at tablet size but look pixelated). At its smallest screen size the menu bar function ceases to work at all and the page alignments of individual sections jump between right and left align.
Fandango is definitely moving in the right direction with a site that is more up to date with the current trend and focuses more on their current content goals. However, there are many slight improvements that can be made in terms of typography, white space, and user experience. Ultimately, the entire design is almost there and leaves page visitors waiting for more.