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Ancienne Belgique: Usability Awards 2009 jury prize commercial or corporate website

The website of Ancienne Belgique,, was awarded the jury prize for 'Most user-friendly commercial or corporate website' at the Usability Awards 2009.

What's so good about the Ancienne Belgique website?

1. Form follows function

The site's design is functional. It's clean and doesn't detract from the reason why people visit the website: the concerts Ancienne Belgique is putting on.

In the words of one jury member: “Refreshingly straight-forward”.

2. Clear primary navigation

Home, Concerts, Projects, Artists, ABtv and AB Radio. That's all. And that's enough. That's what most people visit the site for. (To be fair, 'Projects' is a bit vague.)

3. Good concert pages

Clear and consistent concert pages with handy in-page tabs. All the essential information is at the top of the first tab.

4. Interesting community features

The jury was very impressed by the useful community features like ticket exchange and carpooling:

  • “The web 2.0 features are present, but not in an obtrusive way."
  • "The community aspect doesn't overshadow the site's primary content: the concert information."

5. ABtv and AB Radio

The integration of video and audio is of course a huge added bonus on the website of a concert hall. The way these features are integrated deserves a mention as well: simple, clean and clear.

Is perfect?

Is anything? There's no such thing as the perfect website. Ancienne Belgique has a great website, but there's still room for improvement.

  • Submenu of ‘Concerts’
    Finding all the concerts in a certain genre of music isn't exactly easy. The right column and ‘tag cloud’-like presentation leave a lot to be desired. (Some jury members didn't even notice the tag cloud.) The genres should be a lot easier to find.
  • Terminology
    Things like 'Download calendar file' don't sound very attractive. 'Add to calendar' would be a lot more inviting.
  • Ticket sales
    A big break with the informative part of the website. Far from ideal...
  • Registration here, registration there
    Is it really wise to make registration compulsory for just about everything?
  • Copywriting
    The copywriting on the concert pages is often quite massive and brochure-like. Not really adapted to the web. 

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