Why was the site redesigned?
In short, we redesigned the site to make shopping easier. Earlier this year, we conducted an extensive usability study and the results helped us identify several areas for improvement: Shop by Device, Search, Categories, Shopping Cart, and Product Details. Each of these main areas has been improved in various ways.
What is shop by device and why did we change to this format?
"Shop by Device" is just that: shopping for software and digital content by selecting your device model rather than operating system. Many customers were unfamiliar with their device's operating system and this caused difficulty in finding the downloads they needed. Our goal with shop by device is to improve the shopping experience by giving you relevant software you want, when you want it. For die-hard Handango customers resistant to change, we still offer the same familiar shopping experience under the Shop by Platform (or Operating System) section on the home page.
This is very similar to what Yahoo Mobile does as well and it makes sense. You generally only have one or two devices, so why have to wade through the tons of software that doesn't work on your device? Actually, Handango lets you add several devices which show up like tabs (Yahoo only lets you select one mobile) which is great if you still have an old Palm lying around. I think it's a brilliant solution to the problem of smoothly transitioning Handango's focus from PDAs to mobiles and smart phones. I would've suggested just relegating the PDAs to secondary status myself, but this is a much smarter way to do it.
Unlike Yahoo, though, I wasn't able to select my shiny new Nokia 7610 from the list of devices, so they definitely need to do some work on that front. Generating a comprehensive list of mobiles available, carriers and app compatibility? That's a serious full time job for three people at the minimum so I won't give them too much slack about it. ;-)
It's a shame that Handango hasn't gotten the CSS and Web standards religion though. The page is full of tables and the images that make up the tabs and borders take forever to download. That is pretty disappointing. What's really a shame is that I can't find the mobile version of the site. Where's the minibrowser support? Why can't I see all this great design on my phone? Yes, they have some Java app download thing, but this web redesign really should've included a prominent XHTML-MP version. They really did themselves a disservice by not making the mobile a first-tier client in the redesign. Are they afraid of competing with the carriers who buy their back-end purchasing system (AMPP) or is the mobile version just somewhere I can't find? If it doesn't exist, it's a massive oversite, if it does, it needs automagic redirecting from handango.com and a prominent link on their front page.
Anyways, I see this as a definite net positive. This is the first of many redesigns we're going to be seeing in the next few years as the importance of mobile phones changes the focus of many online companies. But hopefully all new redesigns will include better minibrowser support! As the number of mobile clients accessing the internet grow exponentially, it'll be a no brainer to include compelling mobile versions of the site as part of any new web rollout.