The other day was brought to my attention that Paddy Power (the biggest bookmaker in Ireland and one of the biggest in the UK) has launched a new version of their mobile site for iPhone. At first I imagined a little restyle and some extra spacing for touch screens based on their existing mobile site, which was good already good.
To my great pleasure, it was something completely new!
The homepage was immediately a pleasant surprise, colours, shades, animated icons moving around to attract my attention.
Immediately visible are a number of icons to access the most important parts of the site. Of course your eye will fall for the big icons, in perfect iPhone-style. You can’t see it in this image, but the icons can slide left and right and when you load the page they are moving to the left and that makes you immediately understand that you can interact. Something that was not equally obvious on the CNBC’s mobile site for the winter olympics, for example. Most important events are the ones most prominent with “Live Betting” always there and of course the World Cup in the very centre as this is that time of the year (or 4-years).
Below are the events that are happening now, depending on the event some times you can’t bet, but you can see what’s happening.
At the very top there is a navigation bar that is consistent across all the site and you can use it to quickly jump to different sections or search for specific events.
Something that unfortunately I cannot show you here is that when you click on one of the events you see a nice animation when the page loads, i.e. it resembles the action of opening an app. On my iPhone when you click you see the usual spinning image for a couple of seconds and then magically a new page pops up. Although loading feels a bit slow, the effect is really nice.
As you probably noticed there is a little arrow on the left. The first and most common bets are expanded by default, but you get many more that are collapsed and you can skim quickly to find what you want to bet on. This saves space and lets you read quickly. When you expand you get a nice BIG button that you can press and bet. The odds are clearly stated on the button. Very nice.
For each event they have a lot of things you can bet on and this collapsible system is an excellent compromise between speed and completeness.
Placing a bet
Here is a screenshot of what happens when you place a bet: the system registers the bet and a pseudo-cart appears at the top of the page with a number indicating how many bets you prepared so far. Later you will be able to easily finalise them all at once.
As you might have noticed you can do all this without ever logging in, that is required only at the very end of the process.
Some special pages collect major events and let you easily bet on a common element, for example for the world cup there is a collection of all the upcoming matches and you can easily tap on a button and place your bet.
Review your bets
Once you have collected all the bets you want to place you can click on the “cart” at the top and review your list. If you don’t remember or want to review the details of each a nice pop up gives you all the details.
A simple form allows you to tweak your bet and calculates your potential returns. VERY tempting.
I really like this site and I think it’s a step forward in the design for mobile. Obviously it was designed with the iPhone in mind, the size of images, text and buttons are optimised for the size of the iPhone. Testing on one device alone we all know is easier, but I do not see how porting this design to Android and possibly to the most recent Nokias that run webKit wouldn’t be possible. The efforts of this small company (compared to your usual Google or Facebook) are amazing. This site really stands out both for the quality of the design and the usability. The intent is very clear, make it easy to bet on your mobile and in my view they have completely succeeded.
If I have to complain about something, I think the site does not feel very fast. I don’t know if it’s a network issue, computation on the server side (I am sure they are very busy with the World Cup these days) or anything else. I tested on my Wifi, so we can’t blame the carriers for once. In any case, I think the experience is worth the short wait.
PS: Device detection
Paddy Power implemented a smart device detection system so that any address you hit you will be shown the right presentation, sometimes by redirecting you. This means that you can hit http://www.paddypower.com with your iPhone, PC and any other mobile and still see the correct site. Their default is to have mobile presentation on paddypower.mobi and even if you hit it with your PC, you will still be redirected to the correct desktop presentation. From the perspective of your average user I would say VERY well done, as a mobilist, I would like to be able to force a different presentation and see what happens, but I guess I am a minority 😉