The Usability Blog
A Practical Guide to User Experience Insights

Mobile Ticketing Should Be Simple

If event tickets purchased online can be displayed on a smartphone for entry, make it easy to purchase the tickets using a smartphone.

Last weekend my cousin from out of town wanted to see the 6th Floor Museum in downtown Dallas. I had previously looked at the http://www.jfk.org/ website on my tablet and found that purchasing tickets online in advance for a specific entry time would mean not waiting in line for 20-30 minutes.  I also had read that I could ‘present a printout of the ticket or download the PDF and present it on your smartphone in order to proceed directly to the Ticket Holder entrance” to avoid again standing in line to pick up tickets purchased in advance.

So on my smartphone, I searched for the 6th Floor Museum website, which was a mobile-friendly, but limited version of the full website, as I discovered when the ‘Admission’ page had only basic information but no link to actually make a purchase. Scrolling to the bottom, I found a link to the full website.


Because I had been to the full website previously, I knew in the upper right corner was a quick link to purchase tickets online.  Although potential museum guests might want to click the large grey block saying ‘Purchase Tickets Online’, I knew it was just an image and that the orange “online” link would go to the Online Ticketing page. Again, because I had been here before, I knew that above the ticket types and prices, I needed to select the tiny calendar widget to select a date and time first. But would a first time visitor notice that, especially on a smartphone?


Unfortunately, what was possible on desktop and tablet, proved to be impossible on my smartphone. The entire page was covered by the gray overlay and only a small corner of the actual calendar pop up was visible in the bottom left corner.  I couldn’t move it or pan the page to make more of the calendar visible. I abandoned my mobile phone, went to my desktop and started over. After my ticket purchase, I received a confirmation email, which informed me I could open the PDF attachment of the tickets on my smartphone so the museum could scan the barcode.

There was at least a 20-minute wait in line to buy tickets at the museum and timed entry meant a limited number of guests in the exhibit at a time. While the mobile site provides limited basic information, it lacks any interactivity including capability of buying tickets online. As a further insult to millions of mobile users, it is impossible to purchase online tickets using a smartphone on the full website. How many potential museum attendees have been frustrated with this museum ticketing process and abandoned the process, especially if they were without access to a computer and unwilling to wait in line to buy a ticket?

 -Judy Kistler-Robinson, Senior User Experience SpecialistUsability Sciences


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