New-look homepage proves to be a dud

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 May, 2010, 12:00am

Coming quickly on the heels of having replaced the old self-serve betting machines on the racecourses with shiny new ones of dubious worth (beware, they don't read the input tickets any better than the so-called dinosaurs they replaced), the Jockey Club last week upset more than the odd customer by changing the face of its website.

This is no small matter, as the website would be one of the more popular and well-used websites in Hong Kong and, to put it bluntly, the designers have opted for a sexy look over the quality which is really required - humdrum old utility.

The user interface of the former website was almost perfect so why it was changed remains a mystery and we have been inundated with complaints about the change and about the timing of it - a Wednesday afternoon before racing and with only two months to the end of season break, when such alterations might more sensibly take place.

On the latter, we at least have the right answer.

With the World Cup coming up next month, the Jockey Club was concerned that its internet soccer betting should be available to one and all, including those not using an Internet Explorer browser, for which the previous website had been designed.

Other browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox and Safari, are making inroads into the previously overwhelming dominance of IE in the browser scene.

Apparently, the Jockey Club's website was not fully available to those browsers in its old format, thus the pressing need to make the website all-inclusive at this time rather than waiting for the racing season's end.

Understood. Acknowledged. And on the plus side, we understand that things like the race and trial replays are now accessible on some devices where there had been no access previously.

But as we have pointed out, the layout needed a makeover like a lobster needs a trombone and surely there was no call for an entirely new look, which will be interesting for five minutes and annoying for a lot longer and simply does not work as well.

A direct link to trackwork details, for example, is no longer on the landing page when a user clicks on horse racing. In fact, almost all of the useful links that were just right there, listed on the left side of the landing page have been moved - some to who knows where and some of them to the end of the page, requiring users to scroll down two screens every time they wish to use them.

The short solution to that is for users to make a new bookmark for every single page that they might want to go to quickly. Thanks for that.

The shorter solution would have been to change the access platform without changing the user interface but apparently the designers could not come to terms with not changing every single aspect of the site. No doubt because they are artists.