Navigating the new SIFF Festival site
[ (5/6) Update after the jump explaining some things I missed the first time through ]
In the interest of helping people past this hurdle what follows are some simple direct steps to find films using a by day and/or location grid. It's in there - one just needs to know where to look. In short you want to start on this link here. Rather than jumping into the obvious entry point which does a nice job of highlighting programmer's picks - but no calendar. I'll provide some screen by screen directions after the jump.
To give the benefit of the doubt, perhaps there's some SIFF master plan here that's intended to get folks to look for movies of interest independent of their personal schedules. Or maybe a conscious decision to leave out the "add to my schedule" buttons in favor of a "buy button" on all the readily accessible pages. Either of these would surprise me, and certainly the incredible difficulty in finding a simple calendar to choose a specific day feels like a big miss. As if no one at SIFF outside the folks re-designing the site walked through 3-5 basic functional use cases (such as - "I have Thursday night free, what's playing near me?").
I love SIFF, and I want them to be super successful. There's still time to get this sorted out. And I hope if they don't that the physical guides and the nice printable pdf of the overall schedule will allow people to figure out what's going on when. But I've got to ask, once you've successfully done the hard part of getting potential filmgoers to the SIFF.net site why would you want to make it anything but super, super easy for them to find films that they want to see and buy tickets (or plan to attend in the case of passholders)?
Thankfully the old site functionality is buried inside the new site skin. A great fast step would be to prominently (and perhaps in a bolded, blinking font) provide an obvious path to the calendar. Which would go a long way to reducing the "hey, who does one need to sleep with to figure out online what's playing tomorrow?" Which I've said more than once. Though to paraphrase a great line from Fargo, except I didn't actually say "to sleep with"...
Maybe I missed something obvious along the way. And I'd love to be corrected. If there is a link on the top level festival navigation that gets one an easy to use calendar I'd be thrilled to update this post. Though I will say that passholders I've spoken with online consistently report the same difficulties. If it's just me I've got some very sharp company in my confusion.
After talking with SIFF staff they pointed out a part of the navigation I'd missed. It worked when they demoed if for me. Though the final step of clicking through to their new calendar view is still giving me some grief. Feels like still a work in progress.
Hiding in plain site is a giant vertical blue stripe across all pages - that's the key to accessing the calendar as intended by SIFF designers. Though in my defense once you've scrolled down on the page to look at the below the fold context that "film finder" button is no longer necessarily visible. I've included a snapshot of where the button to press is - including a giant red arrow where you need to look.
Click where it says "film finder" and magically from the side of the screen a calendar and search box appears.
Clicking on a date should take you to a new grid page. It's horizontally organized which I'm not super thrilled with. But at least it's a grid and seemed to work. I use the past tense because during a live demo at SIFF headquarters it seemed fine. But it's not working for me presently. I also saw that the calendar link which was broken for me in Chrome and Firefox worked on someone else's computer. Basically I'm just sharing what I know. Your mileage may vary with which technique works for you. I expect eventually the SIFF team will get this sorted out. (update 2.5 hours later - these links now work as they appear designed to)
After trying off and on for a couple of hours I did manage to make it to the new horizontal film grid screen. Looks like work is actively ongoing ongoing. So like the weather in Seattle - if you don't like the SIFF website wait 15 minutes and perhaps it'll get better.
As you can see this limits you to a partial day view requiring scrolling to the right to get into the later hours. There are other festival sites (SXSW is a notable example) who take this approach. But it makes it rather difficult to plan at a glance. Bottom line - for me I'm better off with a piece of paper for planning a day, which didn't used to be the case for the SIFF site.
Below are my original instructions. Which as it turns out I think are still worth using if you want to checkout a whole day at once (which in my mind is the right way to get the most out of your pass)
So let's get on with it. Here's how to find yourself a calendar on the current SIFF 2013 website.
Go to this link. You should find yourself on a page with a calendar and a film grid for the first day of the festival (click on any of the images for a better view).
Hurrah - a calendar! Now click on whatever day you want to go to. In my test case I chose the 17th - the first day of regular screenings. Which takes you to...
which brings up the purchase and "add to My SIFF" options. You'll need to log into the site in the latter case. But from then are it's clear sailing.
Now - just for the sake of completeness I'll include a walk-through of what to expect today if you enter into the SIFF.net site and just click something that says "Festival." There's value there if you just want to browse around a bit for interesting films or sort by country/genre, etc. It just doesn't smoothly allow the what's playing on the 21st use case to be handled.
The most obvious (and maybe only) choice for those seeking a by day view is to try the "Films A to Z" link on the left side of the page. So let's try that...
Aha! now I can see a link labelled "calendar" so I should be set. Let's click there!
Err... I think this is what the kids call "a fail." everything is dumped into a single column. And the films links take one to a very stylistic page that lacks the option to track them on your schedule as a passholder (who to be clear doesn't need to buy tickets - the big advantage of buying a pass). I'm getting old - it's possible the kids actually call this a "double fail." By the way - it's possible this works properly in some browser. But not from my experience with either Chrome or Firefox.
I hope if you've read this far and work with SIFF you'll take this in the spirit it's intended. To provide a basic workaround to dedicated fans of the festival who just want to get on with picking their next film. As well as constructive criticism which I hope will lead to a more functional site for the hardcore and casual SIFFer alike. Preferably before the festival actually starts.
PS. If you just follow along the links to see what's playing at SIFF Cinema you could be forgiven for thinking nothing at all is on the schedule while SIFF is in progress. A lesser issue - but another path that at some point ought to be tied off.