Simon Willison’s Weblog


Official film sites almost always suck

12th June 2003

Why do official film sites almost always suck? is a prime example: 100% Flash, ridiculous loading times (and I’m on broadband), totally unintuitive interface, tedious, unnecessary animations every time you click on anything and when you finally get to the content (all I could find was the “Mutant Database”) it gives you hardly any information above what you get by watching the film! It looks pretty (pretty expensive at any rate) but really is nothing more than a glorified trailer.

I was going to cite as an example of a film site done right, but then I discovered they’ve redesigned it to be more graphics heavy and less easy to navigate. The content is still a hundred times better than comparable sites though.

For a real laugh though, take a look at the official site for The Matrix. My attempt to view the “lite” version was met with “The Lite version of the site is not fully supported by Netscape 4.7 or other older browsers” (this is using the latest version of Firebird). Dodgy browser detection aside, the main navigation in both high and low bandwidth versions consists of a number of small TV monitors with a mouseover effect that results in the screen becoming blurry. A TV screen the other side of the screen indicates where each link will take you, but on my first visit to the site I struggled with the navigation for quite a while before resorting to trial and error, having missed the screen with the link information. Once you find the content it’s pretty good (though generally quite out of date) but it’s almost entirely obscured by the dreadful navigation system.

If these sites were being put together on a shoe string I could almost forgive the laughable browser support and terrible interfaces, but it’s obvious from the scale of the films that these are not low budget projects. It’s nice to know that there are some competent firms like Happy Cog involved in the industry, but they seem to be few and far between.

This is Official film sites almost always suck by Simon Willison, posted on 12th June 2003.

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