carbuyer

Helping consumers decide which car to buy

carbuyer-cover

Carbuyer helps consumers make a car purchase decision by providing expert reviews, owner opinions, video road tests, buying advice and car finding and comparison tools. Each car model comes with a star rating, key information and an easy to digest expert review divided by sections: comfort, reliability, practicality, value for money and running costs.

Learning curve

Before I started working on this project, I had no knowledge about cars and the automotive industry and I really enjoyed the learning curve. I have started by digesting project requirements, analysing car websites, reading research about target audience, talking to experts and various team members. Then I collaboratively created personas, scenarios and user journeys. Here is one example:

carbuyer-journey

Solutions development

Then I moved on to the sketching phase where I have drawn the initial site map. First I focused on the core content - the car model and then variants pages. To do that I had to learn what each car specification meant and why it was important for the buyer. I organised the information, sketched a few proposals and then moved to high fidelity wireframing.

Then I repeated the same process with the rest of the interfaces, starting with the top level pages and finishing with the home page. I gathered feedback to improve solutions from editorial, SEO, advertising and technical teams as often as it was possible. Here are a few of many sketches and wireframes I created:


carbuyer-wireframes

Less is easier

In the next step I’ve focused on creating an interactive prototype for user interviews. I added real images and data to get more realistic results. I interviewed people with different levels of knowledge about cars and improved the prototype after each session. Most of the issues were relatively small and straightforward to fix.

However there was one page that confused everyone. It was the ‘car finder’ tool. As buyers have a variety of needs and preferences I thought that giving them all available options would satisfy everyone. I couldn’t be more wrong. I stripped down majority of the choices and left only three and did another series of tests. It worked better but it still wasn’t good enough. So I removed one more option. With that improvement everyone found it straightforward. In this case it was better to divide the journey into two steps: basic and advanced. A simpler interface is often easier to use.

carbuyer-solution

Once the prototype was finalised I created a specification for developers and when the website was developed I was asked to come back to do another series of usability testing.

Results

1,000,000
page views in its first month

280%
year-on-year traffic growth

2nd
largest Dennis’s website by revenue after less than 2 years of trading

"Product Development of the Year"
PPA Data & Digital Award

The judges said:

"Founded on exhaustive research, carbuyer.co.uk really delivers for the user. The judges were impressed by the easy to use, powerful tools developed for the site, effective use of video and well thought-out design. The editorial is clear, the use of data is superb, and the traffic results to date are very impressive. Through partnership with the car industry the team were able to secure a low-cost launch that has resulted in an early return on investment on the site, seeing significant growth in a very short space of time."

I introduced various user experience techniques and best practices as I was the first user experience expert at Dennis Publishing. I designed this website with users, SEO, technical capabilities and ad revenue in mind. It was a great project to work on and the client was happy:

"Barbara is an excellent, experienced UX Designer. She worked with us to create personas, develop user journeys all the way through to wireframing and prototyping of a site launch. She was professional, diligent and became an integral member of the team and I'd have no hesitation engaging her again."
Pete Wootton MD at Dennis Interactive

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Connecting the dots

carbuyer-next