Site Seeing: Three sites tested on smaller devices

Site Seeing: Three sites tested on smaller devices

Sipping darjeeling beneath the glorious Baccarat crystal chandelier in the lobby of Corinthia London, I spotted Michael Bublé, a nubile wannabe girl band, half the cast of Twilight, some ladies drinking tea and half a dozen highish-powered business gatherings.


Other than pondering why you have to be small to be famous, my next most acute observation was that no one in any of the business meetings was using a laptop. Everyone was wired, but to iPhones and iPads.


Perhaps it’s their less intrusive design, or the cool factor, that makes iPads de rigueur for today’s business nomad, but it struck me that this rapid shift to tablets and phones may not be all it seems. Perhaps, it is the precursor to something bigger.


Apple has plans for something larger. Steve Jobs’s vision for convergent digital media wasn’t restricted to diminutive devices; it was to provide digital media to any device at all times. Google, too, has spotted the opportunity, but made a pig’s ear of it so far.


As Compaq and Dell and then Nokia and Motorola and Sony Ericsson and RIM have found to their cost, Apple knows a thing or two about user experience and ‘cool’. Watch out for Apple’s internet TV and watch out for Philips and Sony and Panasonic and LG…


For all of us in digital media, however, this is a massive opportunity: web content available on any device; anytime and everywhere.


So, if that’s the future, how are the titans of travel currently equipped?


Teletext Holidays


The granny of travel technology is about to get a new lease of life. If booking travel on your TV feels old hat, think again.


Design


Teletext has taken a brave design step into the world of the iPad. This design feels ‘native’ in this environment, especially in landscape mode. In portrait, however, and on iPhones, the design doesn’t reflow and the great big booking panel, which works well on PCs and tablets, becomes an inhibitor.


Usability


Usability is good on a PC and tablet, but unless you tilt to ‘landscape’, everything is too small on a phone This is a point of growing importance, as phone users prefer to use smartphones in the more natural portrait mode.


Content


We know Teletext is thinning out its content providers, but this is the point where the user experience breaks down. Teletext is an aggregator and needs its partners to raise their game with tablet and phone-friendly websites.


Business Model / Revenue Generation


The commission-based model works OK as long as the user experience can be maintained across partner sites. With a strong phone number presence, this business still fulfils more sales this way than online.


Verdict



  • Design: 22/25 laptop, 20/25 iPad, 18/25 iPhone
  • Usability: 22/25 laptop, 20/25 iPad, 17/25 iPhone
  • Content: 21/25 laptop, 21/25 iPad, 17/25 iPhone
  • Business model /revenue generation: 21/25 laptop, 21/25 iPad, 21/25 iPhone
  • OVERALL: 86/100 laptop, 82/100 iPad, 73/100 iPhone

Granny is ready for a new reality TV career but her supporting cast isn’t yet prepared.


British Airways


If Teletext is the granny, BA.com has to be the granddaddy of UK travel websites. But How does it deliver on mobile devices?


Design


As familiar as familiar can be online. Highly logical without feeling ‘designed’, but beginning to look a bit like some of their aircraft interiors – tired and frayed around the edges, with pixelated details that need to be much crisper for an HD world. The design’s simplicity lends itself to tablets without much change, but its rigidity exposes limitations when you tilt. For mobile users it’s a case of a much-simplified mobile site, which works quite well, but it’s far from beautiful.


Usability


Very easy to use, whether you are in PC, tablet or phone mood. But, as Mies van der Rohe famously said, and Steve Jobs certainly understood, “God is in the details.”


Content


Everything you need, nothing much you don’t need. For internet TV, this may need reviewing, but for now it helps make your life simpler. Recent enhancements include results with both economy and business fares shown.


Business Model / Revenue Generation


This is what it’s all about. Not just booking, but managing, too. A first-class ebusiness business, with ticketless ticketing, too.


Verdict



  • Design: 20/25 laptop, 19/25 iPad, 20/25 iPhone
  • Usability: 22/25 laptop, 21/25 iPad, 21/25 iPhone
  • Content: 20/25 laptop, 20/25 iPad, 20/25 iPhone
  • Business model /revenue generation: 23/25 laptop, 23/25 iPad, 23/25 iPhone
  • OVERALL: 85/100 laptop, 83/100 iPad, 84/100 iPhone

Grandpa is still as bright as a button, but needs a shave and pedicure.


Opodo


The homepage is like a eurozone sovereign debt risk list with Germany at the top and Portugal at the bottom. The portents are not encouraging.


Design


English site is number two – reassuring in the context of debt risk – but this site shares many of the eurozone’s problems. It seemed like a good idea at the time in 2001, but it still doesn’t work well. Its brand and design haven’t progressed and while it represents all its partners equally, it’s too complicated.


Usability


If Google’s mantra is instant results and Apple’s is user experience, Opodo is results by committee. You press a button and it brings you hundreds of options you don’t need. This feels like a management consultancy business model to please the committee, rather than satisfy the user. It works equally badly on PC and tablet, but surprisingly better on the smartphone.


Content


If I can get to Marseille and back for £73 on Ryanair or £97 on BA, do I really need to know I can go via Moscow on Aeroflot for £1,380 or via Munich on BMI for £1,700? Enough said.


Business Model / Revenue Generation


While pads and phones are good to scroll, Opodo’s results stretch your physical ability to swipe. The site works but you can actually hear the technology struggling.


Verdict



  • Design: 17/25 laptop, 16/25 iPad, 19/25 iPhone
  • Usability: 17/25 laptop, 16/25 iPad, 18/25 iPhone
  • Content: 16/25 laptop, 16/25 iPad, 16/25 iPhone
  • Business model /revenue generation: 17/25 laptop, 16/25 iPad, 217/25 iPhone
  • OVERALL: 67/100 laptop, 64/100 iPad, 70/100 iPhone

Needs a complete rethink, based around the user, not the airlines.

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