Friday, June 03, 2005

Cricinfo Usability: 'Watching' Cricket on the Internet

Cricket on the Internet

I am a big cricket fan but I don't (yet) have the luxury of being able to watch or listen to the scores at work. With England currently humiliating Bangladesh (I can feel a rant building up, but I leave that for another day) and my Cousin getting a game for Warwickshire, I find myself relying on the internet for the latest score.

Titlebars and usability

I 'watch' the cricket (i.e follow the scores) using cricinfo, which has always been excellent. Recently (I only noticed it last week) the format of the title bar has been changed which has made a huge difference to the way I can follow the cricket.

I currently have two browser windows open, the first is the Test match which has a title bar reading "BD 66/5 (Aftab Ahmed 6* Khaled Mashud 2*) Lunch - Day 1 - Cricinfo" (See note at the end). The title of the second window reads "Surrey v Warwickshire at Croydon, 1-4 Jun 2005".

For the Search Engines the second title is infinitely better, however the intention of the page shouldn't be to rank highly in the search engines. By glancing at my TaskBar I can instantly see that Bangladesh are in trouble at 66 for 5. I can also see that Surrey are playing against Warwickshire at Croydon between the 1st and the 4th June 2005, which a) I know and b) doesn't tell me the score, which is the one bit of information I want.

In the first format I can see everything I want to know at a glance. If something dramatic happens such as a wicket falls then I can maximise the window and read all about it. I don't want to have to maximise the window just to find out the score.

The story isn't any better using the "Desktop Scorecard" feature. In fact it is worse. The desktop scorecard for the Surrey game has the following title, " - Surrey..." which is all that fits on because they have limited the size of the window. Surely "SUR: 121/3" would make a better title. We all know the site is cricinfo, and by showing the score I could happily hide the browser on the TaskBar and no-one in my office would know I was watching the cricket! Only when something important happened would I have to reveal the browser window to anyone walking past at the time (which always seem to be my manager, oh well, I'm leaving in less than a month)

Note RE Title format: There are (at least) two ways of navigating to the scorecard of the test match. There is a "Live Scorecard" link in the news on the homepage. There is also a "Live Scores" menu bar at the right hand side of the window. If you use the link from the homepage (rather than from the menu bar) you get the score in the title bar, if you use the menu bar, you don't.. Your choice.

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