Just been having a look at Volkswagen’s website as I haven’t had a good browse around car sites for a while. I’m not interested in cars really, for me they serve a purpose but that’s as far as it goes. However, I’ve always found car websites interesting and they can be very inspirational from a UX design viewpoint.
Car sites traditionally fall into two broad categories. 1) Very flashy, sometimes interactive but light on content and take ages to load – even these days ! or 2) Extremely basic and really all you can do is find a car dealer or request a brocgure (these sites are less frequent these days.)
The site’s main function is of course to sell VW’s and it does that from the start.
I like the filter questions on the homepage – I want a new Volkswagen, I own a Volkswagen, I want a used Volkswagen etc. VW also use their now famous highlighting of letters which cleverly allows you to scan the text and get the meaning without actually having to read it. They won many paudits last year for the poster campaign by media agency DDB London which ran in papers and the tube. The poster was extremely clever – (see below) because it works on two levels. It works for the scanner, who doesn’t want the detail but gets the message and also the interested person who wants the detail (crossed out) .
Back to the main site now and there’s very subtle use of the brand throughout the site, the logo is small but ever present and the smooth font and the slick use of greys and blues is similar to the offline branding which is good.
There’s nice animation on the right handside of the homepage – if you click on a diffrent car they do something like drop down from a great height and bounce or drive off.
The top global navigation is well laid out and I like the semi transparency where you can see just a bit of the site beghind the navifgation tabs as they come down.
The site shows the cars with good clean visuals and there’s some well designed filters that help you choose the car that’s right for you. I think some of the language in the wizard is a bit hi-tech and some help text next to more technical terms would help those who are less knowledgeable about cars. Afterall, if you know your cars you probably know what you want anyhow.
Content wise there is some really interesting content around Blue Motion technology, VW’s environmental credentials and it’s heritage. Blue Motion Technology and how it helps efficiency and the environment is mentioned at every oppportunity when content is loading, however overall the content is a bit hidden. There’s also no obvious reference to the recenly launched ‘Ultimate Family HERO campaign which introduces the new Volkswagen Touran and Volkswagen Sharan MPVs into the UK.
The site is clean and uncluttered however it does lack a bit of warmth and maybe bringing out to the forefront some of the content and the latest Hero campaign could give the site a bit more personality. Overall though, a great effort which I think mirrrors their strong advertising heritage. It would be nice if they had an archive of some of their old adverts, there are some classics which I’m sure people would enjoying looking at.
You can book a test drive online with your local dealer, you can see what slots are available and even book a time slot for the car of your choice. A really useful feature. If I was in the market for a new car, I’d defenitely interrogate this site and it would enhance my experience. Infact I quite fancy a VW now!