A few months ago, Buhay Digital did an article on the best and worst online cinema reservation sites in the Philippines. Ayala Malls’ Sureseats.com came out at the bottom due to poor user experience, an outdated interface, and the lack of proper scaling for mobile screens.
Yesterday, I found out that Sureseats has finally gotten its much needed revamp, and I couldn’t wait to check out how the site has improved.
The new Sureseats homepage now has a full-width carousel, which features movies, cinema promos, film festivals, and other cinema functions such as private screenings (there is a bit of a stutter when you click on the left carousel arrow). The top navigation has the same items as the old Sureseats site, however it does feel a little cramped because the date/time, register and login text (the font size for these need to be bigger), and even the social media icons are stacked on top of the main navigation items.
The Now Showing section has been improved as movies are now only displayed once, well, mostly. The execution now is that movies under normal cinemas will have one now showing image and the same movie will have a separate now showing image if it’s playing in 4D and/or Dolby Atmos cinemas. If you look at the screenshot above, the Train to Busan image has a 2D/4DX label while the Sully image has an Atmos label. Now, the screenshot below is after the right-scrolling through the now showing images and you’ll see that there is another Sully and Train to Busan image – both of which are for normal cinemas.
One of my main complaints with the old site was that single movies were displayed multiple times on the homepage, eating up space and making it confusing for some users. It seems that Ayala Malls wants to push their 4D and Dolby Atmos cinemas so they made separate now showing images for them, even placing them before movies’ now showing image for normal cinemas. However the problem with this is some users might mistakenly click on the 4D or Atmos images and will have to go back when they realize that not all theaters are listed; in which case they’ll have to scroll towards the now showing image for the normal cinemas. While this is better than how it worked on the old Sureseats site, it still comes up short when compared to how Sm Cinema does it (single image for all now showing movies and a larger image for the currently featured movie).
The movie finder has also been improved (this was very disjointed in the old site). The cinema drop-down is automatically filtered based on the selected movie, while the time drop-down items will automatically adjust depending on the movie and cinema selected.
If you somehow forgot your username or password, you’ll click on the “forgot username or password” text of course.
However there is actually no retrieve username function on the site right now as far as I can tell. The screen that appears after clicking on “forgot username or password” will only allow you to retrieve your password…
Or does it? Nope, it doesn’t because it doesn’t work. Nothing happens after you fill out the email field and click on the “RETRIEVE PASSWORD” button (I tested this on Chrome and Safari).
So while the ridiculous get your-username-via-text-but-email-us-if-you-lost-the-number-you-registered system is gone, there is no alternative currently on the site (you can’t login using your email address). And to add to that, you can’t even retrieve your password anymore because the button for it is not working. These are major issues which I hope are fixed right away.
As for mobile, the site is now partly responsive. Some pages like the homepage do scale properly while others like the register screen do not and are just cut-off on small screens.
So while there are very noticeable improvements with Sureseats.com, there are still some significant holes that need to be plugged in. The retrieval of usernames and passwords is a critical component of an e-commerce site so I do hope those are put into place soon. And the site needs to go all in on mobile. Smartphones and tablets are often used to book cinema tickets so you can’t have Sureseats pages displaying incorrectly on these screens. For now and likely for the foreseeable future though, this seems to be the gold standard in online cinema booking for Filipinos.