Friday, September 2, 2011 is stupid

Let me quote you from
The design for ArkivMusic emphasizes the ability to quickly and intuitively find classical music recordings. The peculiarities of classical music do not always lend themselves to standard search tools used on the Web. Spelling inconsistencies, differing search syntax designs, and databases not specifically oriented to the parameters of classical music can often lead to very confusing results. At ArkivMusic, we take a lot of the guesswork out of finding music by letting you click down a logical and well-categorized path to the works and recordings that you want.
It's bloody wonderful, a marvellous resource that's of huge value when you want to examine the options for buying a particular work. My List Of Compositions That I Still Have To Get On Disc would have been impossible without it. I love it.
So now ArkivMusic launches in the EU and they have done a very good job of fucking it up. Yes, they still have the click-down system but the look of the site is just ugly. On the US site, if I click on, say, Handel, I'm immediately greeted by a (granted, unnecessary to me) portrait and biography, beneath which are 2 lists, one of Composition Types, the other of Most Popular Works; there's also links to New Releases, Recommended, and other such things. On the EU site, though, my first reaction is huh? because all I see is an ever-increasing list of recordings in no immediately apparent order. It took me a while to notice that there are also links to Composition Types, Conductors, and so forth. So I click on Composition Types, get a pop-up window listing those, I click on one - Keyboard Works - and ... well, nothing's happening actually. It's taking quite a while. Ah, there we go.
Now. On the US site, which goes at normal speed, it gives me a link saying "See all recordings available (185)" and I can see 20 works listed on my screen. In the EU I don't get that link, and I can see 12 works because for some reason they've put plenty of blank space between items in the list. And in the US it tells me how many recordings there are of each work, and in the EU it doesn't. All right, click on something: in the US I get another "See all recordings" and a list of Performers and a list of Labels, while in the EU I get a list of recordings in release-date order (newest first) plus a link for a pop-up of Performers or Labels (or irrelevant Conductors or Ensembles).
So basically the US site is a single-minded drill-down system that lets you instead look at "all recordings" at any point, whereas the EU site thinks you might prefer "all recordings" but gives you a cumbersome option of using the drill-down system. In other words ArkivMusic has decided to partially hide its USP in favour of something that looks much clunkier than most of its competitors.
And a quick comparison of with Presto reveals that if I were to buy the first two Handel items I saw, it would be about €7 cheaper via Presto - and Presto's not the cheapest site around, either.
So I can't see myself shopping at ArkivMusic, though I'll still be using the US site to help me plan my purchases elsewhere.

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