- This past June, I tried to find 2007-08 season information at one opera company's web site, and could not. I sent email to the webmaster, who then pointed me to the link. Now, I'm reasonably sophisticated about technology and how web sites work, but the link was not in an obvious place mere months before the commencement of the 2007-08 season. I felt slightly dumb for not having found it, but there were too many places to look.
- One symphony has a search box that periodically goes out of whack, to the extent that searching for the music director's name doesn't return anything like the number of concerts he's conducting. Pick a composer whose work is being performed once during the season, search for that, and that program doesn't come up. I have a long-standing professional interest in search, so this is this is the sort of thing I notice, but I'm sure I'm not the only one.
- The same organization's web site is so hammered today, because single-ticket sales went live, that you can't actually use their Web site to buy tickets. They're in the process of fixing that, and the box office will sell you tickets over the phone even though that wasn't scheduled for today, I found when I called the box office after 2 hours of trying. By then I was so frustrated I declined to buy anything.
- Post-script to the bullet above: the fix for the hammered web site was to turn off single-ticket sales entirely. In the course of doing this, the same apologetic text appears twice on the home page. The text is text in one place, in a graphic in the other. Embedding text in a graphic means that people using screen readers will never see the text; it's a big usability error. The text plus graphic bit makes no sense at all. OTOH, this web site is notably cluttered, and it's antiquated both in layout and function. I've been informed that a redesign is in the works....
The bottom line is that poor usability costs organizations money and good will, when patrons try to find out what's going on or buy tickets and can't.
Updated Aug. 31.