Alright my little droogies - No sooner had we started carrying on, real horrorshow like, with the downloads and archiving content, and Games Workshop gives us a kick in the yarbles. They’ve consolidated Games-Workshop.com and ForgeWorld.co.uk into a single site: www.warhammer.com
The new site is quite a spectacle. Very showy. I’m just not a fan of the new look. There’s always complaints when a company as large as GW changes anything and people are going to complain no matter what. Just the fact that it’s different is going to be enough for folks to cry foul.
Trigger warning: I don’t like the new site and will have some complaints, so please consider yourselves warned if you don’t like complaints anything you read from here on out is self-inflicted. With that said… off we pop!
Just in case you’re not sure how much space we’re talking about where when I show screen captures… I’m viewing this on a decent sized desktop display, not a phone:
So, the new site has major breaking changes with the 360-degree rotating images - they’re not correctly linked at all presently, the underlying URLs to these images is not even findable on the current page as the content server running in the background is not finding the images and instead serves up a place-holder image that the site administrators haven’t fixed (yet?).
The breaking change that has put a temporary halt to my 360-degree rotation backups was really just the tipping point. Yes, I have been inconvenienced, I realize this is petty, but then I sat back and took in the rest of the current site. I feel like GW is relying on existing shoppers to just figure out how to navigate through to get items in the cart and move on. I don’t believe the current site is organized for anyone’s convenience except perhaps users browsing from their phone - GW would have their traffic information and know demographics of device type, operating system, web browser and version, etc. So maybe they’re seeing 75% of their customers are browsing from their cell phones and have chosen to optimize for that? There is of course the factor that websites are readily designed to serve webpages optimized for desktop or mobile viewing, but I don’t think we’re seeing much optimization of the site for desktop viewing or shopping experience at the moment.
Here are a few examples to make my point regarding poor site design - my two screen captures from above, where I have blocked off the areas that contain irrelevant content.:
On the first screen - I could not care less about the videos showcasing various aspects of the hobby. I’m here for the miniatures, so on that first page of my desktop PC display I’m only interested in a very tiny area of the screen: [ SHOP ]
Scrolling down tot he next section there’s some content that may or may not be of interest. I do not like an overly cluttered viewing experience and simplicity is key for the user experience, but there is an overabundance of wasted space on the screen - highlighted in magenta. Of the viewable pixels within the display window (1936x1048px desktop) of that second area when I scroll down, a full 57.3% is the display space is wasted space that isn’t going to be clicked on and is not “content”. YIKES.
How does this compare you ask, O my brothers, to the mobile device display, or the old GW website?
Current GW website on mobile display (iPhone, using Safari):
Old GW website on 1936x1048px desktop:
To get into product on the new site on a mobile device there’s a large number of full-screen menus that contain very little information and have a lot of wasted space. Not to mention, this new menu system is terribly inefficient as the user loses access to any other branches in the menu hierarchy - if you want to choose a different army or a different gaming system entirely you can’t see it when you’re several steps in, and there’s no way to know how many steps you need to go back to be able to branch off elsewhere. LOTS of wasted clicking/tapping. The old site still had some wasted space along the left and right borders, but look at all the content links - the product menu on the left lets me see all of my choices, and I can jump to other game systems quickly with top menu!
I’m a fan of both fantasy and Necromunda. So what happened today when I went looking for Necromunda content? I started on the new website… there’s a Shop link, the “Start here” doesn’t seem to do anything … a few small links at the top for community (the blog), the subscription service (barf), paints and events… let’s go looking for Necromunda… OH WAIT… when I clicked “Start here” I didn’t think anything happened because of the huge spectacle of the video that keeps running in the background of the page, but if I scroll down I can see there’s information about the hobby as well as the 40K and fantasy lines of models. No LotR, no Necromunda, etc. OK, starting over… reload the page and scroll down…
You know - the old site I could click “Boxed Games” at the top of any screen on the GW site and go into Necromunda, Warhammer Quest, etc… but I’m not seeing it… I’m still scrolling down… screen after screen… Necromunda… Necromunda…
Damn. All the way to the bottom… OK… scrolling baaaaack uuuup. “Shop by Setting”, found it:
I’m clicking the arrows… clicking. What the heck. 40K… fantasy… LotR/Middle Earth… Horus Heresy (to me that’s still basically 40K but a grab at a different pocket of the customer)… wait, it just loops between these.
Oh for Pete’s sake! OK, let’s go back to the top and just go straight into the “Shop” section then and do it manually… Sadly, Forge World’s website now forwards to this site as well so there’s no help there anymore. Everything is lumped in together. At least I can still find the FW models. Bingo:
Sure, the products are easy to see, but with the size screen I have I don’t need them this large. In my 90s with cataracts I’ll still be able to see this from across the room. There’s just so much white space, and I have no quick-access header or left-side menu to navigate away. Only scrolling or the [Back] button. They had made good design choices before… now it’s looking like the level of navigation ease from my first eshop site I made for the bike shop I worked at back in the 90s!
So let’s go look at our buddy, the Beastmaster with Millisaurs:
Yes, that’s what I was looking for. I think the neighbours can see what’s on my screen from where they are, it’s so large. Of the parts of the screen that are actually useful, there’s a LOT of wasted real estate again:
59% of the screen is wasted or irrelevant content. There aren’t even any useful site navigation options anywhere to be seen. I’m also being generous here suggesting this absurdly large image is “relevant”, it’s definitely the model I was after, but it doesn’t need to take up so much of the screen… of the 41% area of the screen that’s actually potentially useful to a user looking for this model, 35.2% of the pixels in the browser window is this image!! The alternate thumbnail images along the far right are beyond absurdly small and are almost too small to even relay what is being shown.
And here we come to the broken links. You can see 3 dark images in the thumbnails on the right side of the above image. What are they? Toilet paper unfurling from a roll? Mushrooms? Those were the positions (in thumbnail order) of where the 360-degree rotations where… let’s click one.
HOLY HANNA!! What have I done!!! It’s even larger than the last image. You can see which thumbnail I clicked on because it’s highlighted with yellow line on the right side. So, it seems the 360 images aren’t working. I’ve confirmed that NONE of the 360 rotations are available for any model at present. And this 40K servo skull is taking up so much space on the screen I’m just annoyed now. Let’s navigate away and click one of the other thumbnails while we think…
WTF!! Another one?? But the thumbnail I clicked (shown in yellow again) suggested the picture exists. Let’s go back to the first picture we know DID work…
UGH, make it stop!!! There aren’t even any navigation options on the site to get me out of here. Time for some [ALT]-[left cursor] action because I grew up going long periods without a mouse… life was rough.
And we’re out… O brothers, that reminded me of my early days playing Warhammer Quest. Sometimes it felt like we’d never get out of the dungeon and back to relative safety, although I still feel like the GW website is somehow going to find a way of ensuring that my legs are broken or else I’m going to end up with a mangy dog following me from now on.
So, what happened there? Well, it seems that GW has (and likely HAD) a separate application that was serving up the content and generating the webpages somewhat dynamically. This isn’t uncommon. Previously, when a thumbnail for the 360-degree rotation was clicked it would send the first frame of the image to the display window. That image was hosted on games-workshop.com with a somewhat convoluted URL:
The site isn’t finding these resources anymore (it IS finding the other thumbnail images) and the servo skull is just the default images that has been chosen for the warhammer.com site to display if an image link is broken. If you try putting in any of those links to the 360-degree images, such as the one above you get sent to maintenance.games-workshop.com and will see the following page:
So, is the party over for snagging these interesting resources? Not likely. At some point I fully expect the 360 rotations will return. I reported this problem a week ago when the site went live and was told it was being passed on. In the interim the Way Back Machine is still a viable option, it just takes some effort to locate all of the base URLs to use for searching (slightly more difficult that GWs site has been revamped so I can’t just work off existing URL structures).
Anyway, disappointing experience on the GW site. Definitely a step backward in terms of functionality and efficiency, problems with missing images notwithstanding. After searching this evening it looks like I’m in good company, so I’ll add my high pitched whine to the chorus