Website Review and Rate:

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the dark knight website reviewThe Dark Knight has been setting astounding box office records lately, and it truly is a great movie. But I thought I would see how well their official website takes advantage of all this lavish praise and popularity, to see if it matches up to the high standards of the movie experience. So here is my next installment of my ‘Website Review and Rate’ series, on the official ‘The Dark Knight ‘ movie website, And lets just say, it was a VERY DISAPPOINTING experience…

Look and Feel – 6/10
The good: The website looks like what you would expect – very dark and mysterious looking (complete with atmospheric background music), to match the whole Batman theme in the movie. There were some cool transitions between some of the sections at least.

The bad: Unfornately, there is no real style to this website, and for how long it takes to load, I was very surprised. Why not build some character into it? Why not make it look it was over run by the Joker, the star of the movie? The theme of the posters has this, so why not build on this for the website?

Intuitiveness and Usability – 5/10
The good: Well, all I can say is that it is a stereotypical, average movie website, so its naturally kind of obvious what are you going to get there – film details, trailers, and a few things to download. So it scores some points there by default.

The bad: Unfortunately, this site suffers from a quite few usability issues. A couple hit you immediately before even getting to the site, which makes for a bad experience. Number one, it takes a long time to load, even on broadband connection (and the weird thing is, after its loaded, there is no obvious reason why it had to take that long – its no more ‘rich’ than any other flash website out there), so that load speed should be optimized to prevent people from abandoning the site before even getting there. Secondly, after loading, the site kind of forces you to watch a trailer (which most people have probably already seen), with no other navigation apart from a skip button.  Again, this makes for a bad initial impression of the website, and doesn’t exactly make you want to stick around very long.

And when the full site loads, its also a bit of a let down. Looks like its a view from someone looking up at the sky, with Joker cards falling down. And no call to action. Hmmm. What to do first? There is no indication of whats cool on the website. And no call to actions. And the navigation menu doesn’t even stay open the whole time either – bad website usability.

Sticky/ Web 2.0 Content – 3/10
The good:They have some pretty standard video trailers and downloads on here in terms of web 2.0-like content, but there really is very little in terms of other sticky or web 2.0 content that would help improve this website.

The bad: In terms of sticky content, you might think that the ‘Friends of Gotham’ section could be community related. But its not. Its misleading and disappointing. I expected to see an online community of batman fans to chat about the movie with. What did I see instead? A list of corporate sponsors. This gets immediate minus points – it makes the website seem way too corporate.

The web 2.0-like video section is poor too. Not only does it take you straight to the video that you already were kind of forced to watch in the intro to the website (even though its a great trailer, why not make it go to a different one?), the navigation to find the other videos is not very obvious either, and there only two extra trailers. No ‘behind the scenes’ or interviews or anything – this would have been perfect to put on this website, and give users a real reason to go here.

Overall Rating – 3/10
Come on Warner Bros, for such an exceptionally great movie, couldn’t you have spent some more money and time building a more engaging website? Why not take advantage of the millions of visitors to this website and make this into an online community of Dark Knight lovers? It basically provides zero reason to want to come back to it, and seems more like an afterthought – ‘oh, wait, we better put up a generic looking movie site for the movie’. And there are way better Dark Knight related websites out there, like this one good called ‘Batman: The Dark Kinght – Movie Chronicles’.

Analytics/Testing Ideas (non-geeks can avoid this section!)
Quite frankly, I doubt anyone at Warner Brothers is even looking at the website analytics for this website, let alone using them to create visitor insight and help optimize the website (they use WebSideStory in case you are interested). In terms of testing ideas to help improve the website? Well, I think you get the main testing ideas I have from the actual review above – in particular, I would test adding an online community to the site, with the option to create your own profile, and a chat/message forum, and I would test the effect of embedding the trailer into the actual homepage, and not use a splash page to show it – and offer website exclusive video, like interviews or behind the scenes. Testing adding more interactivity and more calls to action when you first get to the website should also help to increase the level of user engagement and satisfaction, and increase the amount of repeat visits (which should be the goal of any website!).

>>> So there you have it. Pretty shockingly average movie website for such an excellent movie. What does everyone else think of this website? And what are people’s favorite movie websites?