25-Jul-2010 (Sun) Wherein our store gets fancier.

I made some changes to the DNA Lounge store today.

We often get email from people who don't understand how will-call tickets work. Questions like, "I bought this ticket with my mom's credit card, how do I get in?", or "My friend paid for our tickets but now he's not going, what do I do?", or "Dear Beloved in Christ, I am the widow of the Minister of Finance of Malaysia." We get these questions despite the fact that no less than three separate times during the checkout process it tells you that to pick up will-call tickets, you just need to know two things: the name on the credit card used; and the confirmation code.

People don't read. We know this.

So I figured, well, if there was something on the screen that looked like a ticket, maybe these non-reading people would make the intuitive leap from there to, "I should print this out and take it with me."

So that's what it does now. It looks like this:

Technically that thing on the screen isn't really a ticket, it's just a pretty piece of paper that has the correct purchaser name and confirmation code on it, and when you hand that to the folks at the front door, they will give you your actual tickets, which are the little raffle-spool-looking ones.

I had to upgrade the store server to a faster machine to do this, because apparently using ImageMagick to do such simple font scaling and placement takes a ridiculous amount of CPU.

Also, the confirmation email you get when you place an order is HTML now, because it is the Twenty-First Century.

Please let me know if anything appears to be broken.

By the way, in anticipation of those of you who are about to ask, "Why don't you mail tickets?", the answer is that it's a really expensive hassle at every step of the way: the printer, the thermal media, and the person to stuff envelopes in a timely fashion. It's just not worth the effort. It wouldn't speed up entry, anyway: ID-check is always the bottleneck, not will-call.

13 Responses:

  1. pavel_lishin says:

    I've heard that http://www.graphicsmagick.org/ is much faster than ImageMagick - but I guess you already bought the machine.

  2. mc_kingfish says:

    but how do I get my tickets?

    (I like your choice of shows, btw... )

  3. quadhome says:

    Why an image instead of some styled HTML for the ticket?

    Oh, rotated text. UGH.

    • jwz says:

      I tried. Aside from the "you can never make text rotation work in IE" problem, the other deal-breaker there is that CSS provides no way to say "make this text be N% of the height of the enclosing DIV." Text measures are always relative to the prevailing document font size, not a horizontal or vertical measure, so there is no way to say "make this box be 100% of the width of the page, but make the font scale accordingly."

  4. icis_machine says:

    Not surprised that your customers do this, but the last few times I followed directions and brought my CC and my confirmation number and neither were ever required to get my ticket. Instead I was asked for my ID.

    Why bother following your web site's directions when the door isn't going to use the data the site generates and purports to use? Will mom's boy actually get in?

  5. carrieaki says:

    brilliant idea + common sense. awesome.

  6. cdavies says:

    I don't get it. You've got a QR code on there, so why isn't the thing you print out then your ticket? I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind the "trade this bit of paper for another one at the door." Trade it for a hand stamp, maybe.

    • colonwq says:

      I could print four copies of the ticket and get four hand stamps. Trading paper for ticket give a chance to validate the receipt at will call and keep the door as simple as possible.

      I am surprised the example QR code does not decode to a secret message.


    • jwz says:

      A handstamp does not have a sequence number and does not provide double-entry accounting so that the venue and the promoter know that the other is not cheating. Also I don't want to have to buy iPhones for all of my front door staff.

      So far what I have spent on this experiment is a weekend of my time. That's a far cry from buying a big pile of expensive, fragile, flaky hardware to be dropped on the sidewalk nightly, and also re-training my entire staff to follow a newly-invented procedure that (as I already explained) won't actually speed anything up or save money in any way.

      Not to mention that I'd have to be the one to write the custom iPhone software to do something sensible with the QR codes, since there's nothing off the shelf that does anything useful except "open this URL".

      So, yeah, you just took "goof around in Illustrator and tweak some PHP for a weekend", and turned it into, basically, "do a hardware/software start-up". No thanks. Good luck with your funding, though.

  7. violentbloom says:

    You are confused. This won't teach them to read.

  8. lionsphil says:

    The one thing that strikes me is that if one of the things your front door people need to read in artificial light having been printed by a cheap inkjet is the name, it might be a bit small.

    Otherwise, good plan.

  9. bifrosty2k says:

    dood your tickets are in the cloud.

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