Web Evaluation Assignment:
Looking for a Car
Searching for a car can be a rather tedious process, however the Internet is changing the
way we shop, making it more convenient. The potential buyer no longer has to go to the
dealership and negotiate a price, he or she can simply hop on the internet and browse around
until something catches their eye. However, not all car websites are user friendly. In this
synthesis paper, we will discuss what information, interface, and interaction designs are. In
addition, we will then analyze six different car websites: www.autotrader.com,
www.edmunds.com, www.cars.com, www.autos.msn.com, www.kbb.com, and
www.carsdirect.com using our knowledge of good versus poor information, interface, and
interaction designs. Specifically, we will often refer to Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think: A
Common Sense Approach to Web Usability as a supporting resource for our findings.
As a group we have chosen to discuss the above websites using Krug’s understanding of
web usability as it applies to information, interface, and interaction design. Information design,
what the company is telling us, includes the websites: identity and mission, feature promotions,
site hierarchy, content promotions, deals, timely content, credibility, and word choice. Interface
design, or the physical layout, includes the websites: site ID, search box, sections and
subsections, page name, local navigation, visual noise and shortcuts. Interaction design, or the
experience the user has, includes the website’s: array of “mindless choices,” ease of search or
browse, physical space, clickability, and feedback. Since, every website we discuss is different,
we chose a common thread via a rubric to discuss each site. However, not all of the sites are the
same, thus some items within the rubric may not be discussed with every site. Please see the
attached appendix for further information on the rubric.
Some of the suggested sites for our assignment have changed names or have been bought
by other sites, so our team researched the six sites listed in the table below. We choose six sites
that had both used car searches and research on used cars. It became apparent that several of the
sites outsource their used car searches, and a few outsource part of their research.
Site Name Used Car Search Engine Research Engine
www.autotrader.com www.autotrader.com www.autotrader.com
www.ednumds.com www.autotrader.com www.ednumds.com
www.cars.com www.cars.com www.cars.com and kbb.com
www.autos.msn.com www.cars.com www.autos.msn.com and kbb.com
www.kbb.com www.cars.com www.kbb.com
www.carsdirect.com www.carsdirect.com www.carsdirect.com
Most of the used car search engines rely on the www.cars.com search engine. Edmunds
uses www.autotrader.com and www.carsdirect.com uses itself. Because the results appear to
have some of the same listings in the only three search engines, it seemed worthwhile to see if
perhaps there is one search engine, or one list that each of them draws from. A search for a 2005
used car within a 50-mile radius turned up varying results:
Search Engine Nissan Altima Honda Civic Volvo XC90
www.autotrader.com 40 42 7
www.cars.com 20 23 2
www.carsdirect.com 7 17 6
www.ebay.com 2 1 0
www.austin.craigslist.org 7 11 0
Between AutoTrader.com and Cars.com, we found information on their websites
indicating why there are about twice as many listings in AutoTrader.com. They have a total of
3-million cars listed while Cars.com has 1.4 million.
Task and Procedure
Originally, each group member evaluated two of the sites listed above based on Information,
Interface, and Interaction design. We shared our results, and then evaluated Edmunds.com in-
depth as a group. As we worked through this initial evaluation, we realized that our evaluation
rubrics were not entirely consistent, so we decided to standardize our rubric and proceed with
another round of evaluations.
Nathalie made the suggestion that we standardize our evaluation criteria around Steve
Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, which the group agreed to. Pete submitted an initial outline for
items in a rubric and Nathalie and Gregg revised it. Nathalie submitted the final rubric that was
used to guide and standardize our evaluation criteria. We then re-evaluated all six websites as a
group. Gregg completed and submitted an initial round of evaluations, and then Pete and
Nathalie completed a second round of evaluations against the standardized rubric. The redesign
of the Edmunds.com New Car Search screen was agreed to by the group, and the final graphic
was assembled by Gregg.
Auto Trader has been around since
the 1970’s in the form of a free newspaper-
grade sales flier with photos of cars for sale
in your area. Most potential buyers would
simply grab a flier located at the exit of their
neighborhood supermarket. Today, Auto
Trader has the most car listings of any public
car search engine on the web. Edmunds.com, a site known for their quality research, utilizes
AutoTrader.com for car searches. If you click on “Sell Your Car,” you can find out that several
online car search engines use AutoTrader including: Yahoo Autos, AOL Autos, NADA,
CompuServe, Univision, Netscape, and AutoExtra.com.
When you type in Auto Trader’s URL, the homepage clearly states what site you are in,
however the site does not have an apparent tagline. Auto Trader’s site hierarchy is handled by
the persistent navigation that is located just below the site identification. The persistent
navigation tells the user both what they can find and what they can do on AutoTrader.com
(Krug2006). The user can choose to research a car, find a car, sell a car, or browse for new car
models. Although, the tagline is omitted, the section labels tell the user why they are there. In
addition, the persistent navigation includes other information unique to car search engines. For
instance, there are links to car loans and insurance that allows the user to estimate total cost of
ownership. The car loans section sends the user to a CapitalOne page with one click. Similarly,
the insurance section provides an insurance quote from Geico that is only one click away.
If the user is searching for content promotions; or the newest, best, or most popular
pieces of content, it appears that this in not the site to browse. The content information within
Auto Trader does not identity which links or buttons are the most popular, nor does it overload
the homepage with deals via advertisements. Instead, the homepage is structured to mostly
provide the user with information about researching and comparing cars, finding the car they
want, or selling their car. These are the most prominent sections under the persistent navigation.
The information presented on Auto Trader is clear and succinct. The site has well
defined and prominent links and buttons. In addition, the section headings are indicative of what
is on the page as a whole. For example, under the section heading Research Makes and Models,
there are subsections labeled Info. on Specific Models, Compare Cars, Search Reviews, and
Browse by Body Style. Below each of these subsections is a brief description of what will happen
when you click on the subsection.
The physical layout of the website includes a site ID that is easily identifiable and is
located in the upper left-hand corner on every page. Auto Trader’s persistent navigation is on
every page, but it is orange on the start page, and is white on all the other pages. The search box
can be found within the sections, such as Find a Car, but there is no search box within the
persistent navigation. The primary navigation provides links to the main sections of the site. The
sections are clearly labeled and there is a link for the Homepage that appears within the
persistent navigation whenever you leave the Homepage (Krug, 2006).
Every page within Auto Trader’s site has a name that frames the content that is unique to
the page. For example, when you click on the tab Sell Your Car it takes you to a page entitled
“Ready to Sell Your Car?” The page name is prominent (bold, large text, centered in the frame)
and matches what I clicked.
The visual noise or complexity and distractions are kept to a dull roar throughout Auto
Trader (Krug, 2006). Most of the visual noise present, beyond the text, are advertisements.
Advertising is targeted to the user. They have some smart algorithms in their search criteria,
because when searching for a particular brand of used car, the advertisement on the right would
display the same manufacturer’s car, sometimes the very same model! Volvo even had two
pictures with links opening their certified pre-owned pages.
Auto Trader does a great job making the user’s choices “mindless” (Krug, 2006).
Someone who has been to a car search engine recently would have an easy time navigating this
site. The tabs on the persistent navigation are clearly labeled and take the user to what is obvious
or expected. Because the choices within the site are “mindless” the user can easily search or
browse depending on what their purpose is for visiting the site.
Whenever you leave the Homepage, breadcrumbs appear in the persistent navigation
letting the user know where they are in the physical space of AutoTrader.com. For example,
when I click on the tab for Find Your Car, the tab turns gray and within the tab there is a link for
Home > Find Your Car. It is easy for the user to understand because of the color change in the
tab and the breadcrumb.
The buttons, tabs, and links are clearly labeled, and look like they are clickable. The only
drawback is that searching for a used car has limited options. The standard criteria are offered,
but a user can only search up to three cars at the same time.
There is a feedback button located within the persistent navigation on every page. The
feedback is in the upper right-hand corner for all of the pages except the New Cars section,
where it is located in the bottom right-hand corner. When you click on the feedback button it
brings you to a separate window where the user can rate the page via a survey. We suggest that
the feedback button remain consistent throughout all of the pages.
Edmunds.com is known for its quality car research. Though they accept advertisements,
they also write lengthy comparisons of new and used cars. It is possible that one would have to
question the reliability of their research in light of certain car manufacturers paying for ad space.
This is not necessarily a problem, but it is worth noting.
When you arrive at Edmunds.com
the homepage clearly states what it is,
Edmunds.com with a picture of a car
within the .com, as well as why you
should be there via the tagline, “Where
smart car buyers start’. The feature
promotion on the homepage is located
just below the persistent navigation
running across the screen. The year, make and model of the featured vehicle are present as a
link. For credibility they state who rated the car, or why it stands apart from others, and then
they entice you to see for yourself. Smart emotional design, calling on the buyers interest almost
like a competition.
Edmunds’ site hierarchy is handled by the persistent navigation located below the site ID.
The persistent navigation tells the user what I can find and what I can do (Krug 2006). The
persistent navigation is a series of tabs placed across the top of the page linearly. The tabs are
broken up into sections, which are clearly labeled. The user can choose from a variety of options
including: new cars, certified cars, and used cars. When you click on the tabs more subsections
appear allowing for content specific options. For instance, when you click on the tab for New
Cars, Free Price Quotes, Quotes with Options, Insurance, and other subsections becomes visible
and clickable. This information allows the user to search specific aspects of buying a new car in
just two clicks.
On the Homepage there is also a link within the section New Cars for TMV Deals of the
Month. This information is updated monthly, possibly as a tool to entice the user to come back
to the site (Krug, 2006). They also have a Vehicle Spotlight and Vehicle Showcase screen, which
display feature promotions, enticing the user to browse. Once again the word choice appeals to
the user’s emotions to convince them to explore.
Edmunds.com has a site ID located in the upper left-hand corner above the persistent
navigation. Regardless of what tab, link, or button you click, the site ID remains in the same
place. The center stage is divided between New Cars and Used Cars. The search engines are
located in these two sections. There is no general search box in the persistent navigation.
The primary navigation provides tabs and links to the main sections of the site, as well as
the center stage. The sections are labeled clearly and there is a tab always present in the
persistent navigation. The page names directly correlate with the section labels or tabs. The title
appears in the upper left-hand corner of the center stage. The page name appears in red or black
depending on which tab you click and the font size is not consistent. There is always a
Homepage tab available for the user on the left side of the persistent navigation.
The visual noise within the site is moderately distracting. There are quite a few color
schemes throughout the different pages. There are also moving advertisements in the margins of
some pages. Each page contains both text and graphics (stationary as well as dynamic) woven
throughout the interface. These interfaces function as expected, taking the user to further choices
to logically narrow the search. Both the site ID and the Homepage bring the user back to the first
page, providing the user with a shortcut to move within the site.
Edmunds’ does a nice job of making choices within the homepage and throughout the site
“mindless” (Krug, 2006). The sections and subsections are prominent, labeled well, and
clickable. For example, when browsing the homepage, the section titles are either a tab or a link
labeled in a color that makes them stand out from the background. There is significant white
space separating the sections. When the user roles his mouse over the tab or link, the color of the
text changes, indicating where your cursor is while highlighting where you are about to go.
When you browse the persistent navigation the background color changes as well. This creates a
sense of physical space for the user. This change in text and background color when interacting
with the site provides the user with feedback as they explore.
Edmunds.com does not use breadcrumbs to give the user a sense of scale, direction, and
location. The user must therefore rely on the persistent navigation and the corresponding
subsections as well as the page names to figure it out. Breadcrumbs would be a great revision
for this site. They would allow the user to scan the persistent navigation to get a sense of where
Interacting with the Used Car section has its challenges. When you click on the Used
Car search it takes the user to a new window in AutoTrader.com. All of the data you put into the
previous screen is lost and you have to reselect your criteria. Though several sites use
AutoTrader.com or Cars.com as search engines, Edmunds.com is the only site that forced a
popup window and forgot the criteria already entered. We chose this issue as the redesign,
planning to have the search “powered by AutoTrader.com” instead of taking the user to
AutoTrader.com and forgetting their criteria.
Though we do not have statistics for how many users access each of our sites, Cars.com
is linked more often from other sites by the car search engines we looked at. It seems to have
about half of the cars listed when compared to AutoTrader.com, but has more options in search
Upon arrival to Cars.com the user
can quickly scan the Homepage and find
what it is and why they should be there.
The site ID tells the user that they are at
Cars.com, and the tagline in the left margin, ‘Reach 8 million shoppers: Get thousands over
trade-in’ clarifies what this site is primarily used for. We recommend that they move the tagline
to below the site ID, so it is more obvious. They should also increase the font of the text and
change its color to make it more connected to the site. The featured promotion on the Homepage
is the New Vehicle Spotlight. Unfortunately, you cannot click the section title, so it is just a
picture without supporting text. They should incorporate some information on this vehicle as
well as a link to explore further.
The site hierarchy is handled once again by the persistent navigation through the use of
tabs running across the page linearly. The information is clearly separated into the following
verbs Buy, Sell, Research as well as Shopping Advice. In addition, the Homepage center stage is
divided into three columns; Buy, Sell, and Research, creating consistency within the page.
The main pages of each section include links on the right column with advertising and
cross-promotions of mostly new cars, but also “premium” services. These services may include
background checks for when the user is close to purchasing a car, but wants to know if it has
been in an accident, stolen, etc. This comes at a cost.
Cars.com has co-branding with Kelley Bluebook Service (www.kbb.com), which is an
independent site that allows the user to input car information and his or her zip code to determine
the fair market value for a particular car. The user can choose options, mileage, and conditions
of the car to determine its value. By itself, the Kelley Bluebook site has an option for searching
used cars for sale, which is a direct link to www.cars.com. Toward the bottom of the Homepage,
the user can find links to additional free services including user reviews, car blogs, and popular
automobile articles from various sources.
The site ID appears on every page in the upper left-hand corner. It looks like a site ID
because of its size and shape, thus making it a focal point on every page. The search engines are
within each section on the center stage, instead of on the persistent navigation. This makes sense
considering the search will differ based on whether the user is looking to buy, sell, research, or
The primary navigation serves as the catalyst to browsing and searching the sections and
subsections. The sections and subsections are clearly labeled and a tab for Home appears when
ever you leave the Homepage. Every page has a name that frames the content for that page. The
positioning of the page name is consistent throughout, but the text size varies, thus making the
transition from one page to the next somewhat unpredictable. The interface could be improved
by keeping the text for the page names consistent.
The visual noise is mostly in the margins via animated advertisements. At times the ads
will run above the persistent navigation. The user can expect to find at least one new car
advertisement on any page, but may find additional links to “for a fee” premium services as well.
Other than that, there is not a lot of clutter. The center stage uses a few different color schemes
and the sections are separated with whitespace, which helps to soften the content. The mail logo
appears on every page. Even when browsing through the external link to Kelley Bluebook, the
user is still at www.cars.com.
Cars.com does a nice job of creating a “mindless” experience for its users (Krug, 2006).
The choices within the Homepage and persistent navigation are clearly labeled with verbs that
make sense to the content of the page. When browsing over the persistent navigation the color of
the background changes, helping to orient the user on the Homepage. The background changes
from light purple to dark purple and the text within the tab does not change color. There are no
breadcrumbs to give the user a sense of scale, direction, or physical location within the site as a
whole. This site could be improved by making the text change color instead of the tab
background. In addition, adding breadcrumbs would give the user a sense of scale, direction,
The user can click both the site ID and the Homepage tab to get back to the Homepage
once they leave the page. However, some of the pictures within the interface that appear to be
clickable are not. You cannot click on the text or the picture for the New Vehicle Spotlight even
thought it looks clickable (Krug, 2006). This is something that needs to be improved.
Like most car search engines, Cars.com uses what Tidwell terms the N-item dropdown
list for searches (Tidwell, 211). This helps with low space consumption, but most users may not
be aware of the options unique to their dropdown menus. Though it is not marked, users can
choose more than one item from the dropdown list by Ctrl/clicking on as many items as they
like. Once the search results show up, Cars.com has a “Modify Search” option. Clicking on this
opens a narrow horizontal bar where the user can narrow or broaden the search by changing
search criteria without going to a different page.
Since Cars.com has a greater than average flexibility in search criteria, it should be more
obvious that users can make more choices by use of the control button.
Autos.msn.com is the Microsoft search
engine for finding new and used cars. People
who use MSN for other purposes may end up
here by default when browsing for cars. The
look and feel is slightly different from other
sites because of more color in the background
and title bars. Also, because MSN includes
news, shopping for other items, and a number
of other services, those links are available
from the car search site.
When searching for cars, MSN has advertisements for cars, but also has advertisements
for other items for sale. The MSN autos heading at the top left of each page clearly states what
the purpose of the site is. Besides the paid advertisements, there is no prominent section on the
homepage with content promotions. There is, however, a section of the homepage that alerts the
user to new features within the site. Prominently displayed on the homepage is a section that
invites the user to try the brand new Auto Show Central feature of MSN autos. In the top right
of the homepage, current auto articles that may be of interest constantly appear in a cycle,
providing timely content to the shopper. The site does not use excessive verbiage, and for the
most part the wording is tight and relevant.
The MSN autos site logo appears on every page, which is important because there are a
multitude of links that the user can click on that will have them leave the site. The homepage
provides tabbed navigation along the top row that allows the user to access the main sections of
the site. However, the tabbed top-level navigation disappears once the user has proceeded into
one of the site’s subsections. It is replaced with a navigation bar along the left side of the screen.
While both navigation methods do work, they are very different from one another and take a
little time to get used to. The site would be improved if the navigation were kept consistent and
if the third-tier content could be accessed directly from the homepage.
Clicking on the home tab or autos logo will take the user to the start page for MSN autos,
while clicking on the MSN logo takes the user to the start page for MSN. This could be
confusing for someone who intended to go back to the start page for autos rather than MSN.com.
Besides the browse navigation, there is a search box that is visible on each page. The
search box also gives the user the option to search just the site, or the web in general. This is
important because many users might assume that the search box is intended to search the entire
web due to its affiliation with MSN.com.
The amount of visual noise or distractions is reasonable, and is comparable to the other
sites reviewed. As mentioned earlier, however, many users may have targeted advertising,
especially if they are logged into MSN. In addition to car ads, a user can expect to see offers on
other merchandise or services they have browsed previously through MSN.
MSN uses Cars.com as a search engine for used cars, so the N-item dropdown list
appears when searching for used cars, allowing the user to choose make model, zip code, and
start a simple search. They also provide an option for advance search. MSN does one of the best
jobs at integrating an outsourced search engine. You never feel like you have left MSN, but are
aware that you are using Cars.com as a search engine.
The search feature does not produce what most users would expect. Even while in the
used car search, a search for “2005 Nissan Altima” turned up 82 results, mostly news articles,
and nothing listed what was for sale. So the search function simply acts more as a broad MSN
search rather than something that would pull up a directly relevant page within the site. One
improvement for MSN could be to include a “smarter” search function that would return results
closer to what the user would typically expect.
While the site does not use breadcrumbs, the navigation bar on the left-hand side of the
page gives the user a sense of physical space and scope. The dropdown menus and text input
boxes are all fairly clear, so users should not have trouble determining what portions of the site
that they should interact with.
Kelley Blue Book has been the
standard for used car pricing for 80
years. Before the Internet, car dealers
actually carried a blue book helping
them appraise the value of a car. Kelley
Blue Book has both professional and
free public access to this database today,
allowing users to know what to expect
in pricing for both new and used cars.
KBB also provides searches for
purchasing new and used cars, powered
The primary information the site provides, and hierarchy of the content, are clearly
visible at a glance of the persistent navigation menu at the top of the page. The information in
those tabs is consistent no matter which tab the user chooses. There are several new car
advertisements, which show up, but change when the user goes to different pages on the site.
KBB stands out in terms of providing information for the user about their mission. The
top title bar includes a tagline after the Kelley Blue Book logo: “The Trusted Resource.” It also
has a follow-up, which is visible on every page: “80 years of trust.” Not many Internet search
engines can make that claim!
Searching to purchase new or used cars is secondary. From the start page, it is obvious
that the main purpose of KBB is to give values of new and used cars. These are the main
choices, but the user can also compare cars, read reviews, and click on financing and insurance.
KBB has what appear to be new deals, but they are simply paid advertisements with
subtle labels. There is a new feature called Blue Book Videos, but it resides in the bottom right-
hand corner of the page and is not prominently featured on the homepage. The site indicates that
the Blue Book Videos are still in Beta, so perhaps there is not yet enough content to warrant full-
scale promotion of the new feature.
The KBB site ID is clearly visible and present throughout all the pages of the site. There
is no overall search feature for KBB, the user is forced to use the other navigation tools to drill
down to what they are looking for, but fortunately that is a fairly straightforward task. Most of
the interface choices keep the user within the KBB site. Though they are available, search
options for purchasing new and used cars are usually buried down in the page. When clicked,
the user begins using Cars.com as a search engine, but is kept within the KBB site.
The persistent navigation divides the site neatly into sections and sub-sections, each of
which is clearly labeled. The site always displays the navigation that will allow the user to
backtrack by clicking, however the browser’s Back button will most likely be used quite a bit on
this site. If a user clicks for financing and insurance, the first page stays within KBB and has
several options. One is a financial calculator, to help the user add in figures including insurance
costs, trade-in value, monthly payments, interest rates, etc. This way, a buyer can estimate the
total value of a vehicle within their budget before trying to purchase it. There is only one choice
for financing, Capital One, but the insurance link has at least three options.
Visual Noise is kept to a minimum at KBB. While there are some animated
advertisements, the clean and simple look of the site is one of its strengths.
Overall, the choices that a user is presented with are “mindless”. The items on the page
that are meant to be interacted with are visually different than those items that are not, and those
elements have an appearance, which shows that they are clearly clickable. As mentioned before,
there is no search box on KBB.com, but the clear hierarchy of the site, as well as the use of
breadcrumbs, makes navigating by browsing easy and straightforward.
Clicking capital one or the insurance link opens a popup and takes the user to an outside
site. This is the only frustration, and something that could be made better by keeping us within
the same site. If they can do it by integrating Cars.com into the KBB site, they should try to do it
with finance and insurance.
Other search items are standardized with N-item dropdown lists in searching for values of
new and used cars as well as searching to purchase the cars themselves. Other than the finance
and insurance popup issues, buttons at KBB are clearly labeled, and take the user to what is
expected. Finally, the white and pastel color scheme of the site do a great job of making the site
feel welcoming and unintimidating. Though there is a large amount of information on many of
the pages, the color scheme has a calming effect that keeps the user from feeling distracted or
CarsDirect.com is a smaller site with fewer listings, but appears to be quite nimble with
fast loading. Other than the title bar at the start page, there are no advertisements on the first
page, just a simple layout. This could become a favorite for dialup users.
The layout stays the same on every
page with a persistent navigation displayed
in tabs. Highlighted text indicates where the
user is, but it is not as obvious as a changed
color of the tab. There is a membership
option for the user to join and set preferences
and have the option of new listings being
sent to a personal email address.
Clear information is provided about
the vision of CarsDirect, though the tagline may be a little bit long. At every page in the site,
you can see the tagline at the top, reading: “CarsDirect is your #1 resource for car research and
pricing information on all makes and models.” Though this is clear, it is a little bit long. Since
the site ID already says “CarsDirect,” we might suggest making the tagline something like “Your
#1 Car Resource.”
Unique to CarsDirect is the ability to shop with the assistance of one of their Vehicle
Specialists. This allows the car buyer to use an agent between themselves and the dealership.
While this is something that would appeal to many people, there is of course the worry that
Vehicle Specialists would steer the buyer towards dealerships that offer them the most
commission. Regardless of their effectiveness, the Vehicle Specialists are a feature that sets
CarsDirect apart, and they display this fact in the middle of their homepage.
CarsDirect attempts to establish its credibility right away. There is a banner in the middle
of the homepage that states they have been rated the #1 car buying site on the Internet by several
high profile publications.
There are no current deals or new site features prominently displayed, the benefit of
which is that the homepage is simple and straightforward with minimum unnecessary text.
The site identification is clear on every page, with the exception of only having
highlighted text to indicate which tab the user is operating under. The advertisements, though
fewer than other sites, seemed to be disconnected with what the user is searching for. When
searching for a used car, insurance ads are displayed. This is a related item, but not what the user
is searching for at the time.
There is no Search box in CarsDirect, but the very simple layout makes it easy to
interpret the primary navigation of the site. As with many of the other sites, there are main
navigation tabs at the top of the page, and second level navigation choices appear on the left-
hand side of the page when the non-homepage tabs are clicked. As you navigate through
CarsDirect, the sections and subsections are clearly labeled and consistent throughout. The page
name does not appear prominently, but it is always in the same place, and is sufficient to keep
the user from getting lost.
CarsDirect.com does a good job at keeping the visual noise down, with few
advertisements and low volume of graphics. It appears that they don’t have a lot of sponsors,
because the same ads appear over and over again.
CarsDirect does a good job of interaction design. The overall look and feel of the site is
very unintimidating and gives the feeling that it will be an easy site to interact with. The choices
presented are “mindless” in that they are very clear and there are only a few of them.
For the most part CarsDirect does a good job of presenting what is clickable and what is
not. However, there are a few items that appear to be clickable on the site whey they are not, in
fact, something the user can interact with. One example is the car colors. CarsDirect presents all
the colors that the selected model of car is available in, and it looks like you can click on the
colors and actually see the cars in those colors, but you cannot.
Some of the search items in CarsDirect.com take the user to a response form. For
instance, if a user is looking for price value of a car, radio buttons are available as well as N-item
dropdown lists. Once the user completes all the forms, name, address, email, and phone number
must be given so that the information can be sent to the user somehow. This was a surprise. I
expected results for the information I entered, and I got a response form. Unless the user likes
getting a sales call, this would likely lead to an unpleasant user experience.
As mentioned before, our group chose to redesign the Used Car Search page of
Edmunds.com. Instead of launching AutoTrader.com externally, we suggest that Edmunds keep
the user within their own site, and instead have the search “Powered By” AutoTrader.com.
Information, Interaction, Interface Design Evaluation Rubric
1 2 3 4 5
Identity and Unsure of what the Have an idea of what Clearly states what the
Mission site is and what it is the site is and what it is site is and what it is for
for for (preferably why I
should be here) (p.95)
Feature Does not have a A feature promotion Invites the user to
Promotions feature promotions section exists, but you explore additional
section. cannot click on it for sections of the site or to
more information try new features (p.96)
Site Overview of the Overview of the Overview of the
Hierarchy content, features, and content, features, and content, features, and
organization of the organization of the site organization of the site
site is unclear and is visible, but is clear and well-labeled
labeled with navigating the site is making for easy
ambiguous verbs challenging navigation (p.95)
Content No content Content promotions are Spotlights the newest,
Promotions promotions available on the Homepage, but best, or most popular
not visible to the user pieces of content (p.96)
Deals No advertising, The advertisements, Homepage includes
cross-promotion, or cross-promotions, and whatever advertising,
co-branding deals co-branding deals do cross-promotion, and
not standout to the user co-branding deals have
been made (p.96)
Timely The information on Updates at least one Provides frequently
Content the page is not section of the site updated information as
updated frequently frequently in order to a tool to entice the user
entice users to come to come back to the site
Credibility No background The site contains The site provides
information on the background information background information
vision and mission of on the company, on the vision and
the company who however it is not a mission of the company
developed the site visible tab, button, or behind the site
Word Choice Information is Information is too long Information
ambiguous to scan is clear and concise
(needless words are
1 2 3 4 5
Site ID No Site ID Site ID is visible, but Site ID appears on
not prominent and does every page, looks like
not appear in a an ID and is located in a
consistent place consistent place
Search Box No search box The search box is Provides a search box
provided clearly labeled, but is with a button clearly
not consistent labeled search. The
throughout the site search box is consistent
throughout (p. 67)
Sections and Primary navigation Primary navigation Primary navigation
Subsections does not contain provides links to the provides links to the
links to the main main sections of the main sections of the
sections of the site. site. The sections and site. The sections and
The sections and subsections are labeled subsections are clearly
subsections are not with too many words labeled and there is a
clearly labeled and and the Homepage button for the
there is no button for button is not consistent Homepage (p.65)
the Homepage throughout
Page Name Pages within the site Some pages have Every page has a name
do not have a name names that frame the that frames the content
to describe what the content that is unique to that is unique to the
content on that page the page. The names page. The name is
is are not a consistent prominent and matches
size, font, or color what I clicked (p.72-73)
Local No local navigation Local navigation is Local Navigation is
Navigation displayed in different clearly displayed for
places on different each page and labeled
Visual Noise Overwhelming Distractions and Keeps the visual noise
amount of complexity take away (complexity and
distractions and from the users distractions) to a dull
complexity experience roar (p.38-39)
Shortcuts No separate links for Site provides separate Site provides separate
the most frequently links for the most links for the most
requested pieces of frequently requested frequently requested
content pieces of content, but it pieces of content (p.96)
is not visible to the user
1 2 3 4 5
“Mindless” Choices within are Choices within the site Site makes choices
Choices arduous and are often easy and within easy by making
ambiguous obvious, but not the choice obvious or
consistently what the user expects
Ease of Search Do not receive links Sometimes get back a Type in description of
or Browse that match requests list of links that match wanted “item” and get
when searching your request back a list of links that
match your request
Physical Provides no sense of Provides some sense of Provides a sense of
Space scale, direction, or scale, direction, and scale, direction, and
location for the user location for the user location for the user
(breadcrumbs) (p. 57)
Clickability Buttons that appear Some buttons that Buttons and Tabs are
to be clickable are appear to be clickable clearly labeled and can
not are be clicked
Feedback No feedback Provides some feedback Provides feedback to
provided to the user to the user the user via sounds,
sights, or other
Tidwell, J. (2005). Designing Interfaces. Sebastopol, CA:O’
Krug, S. (2005). Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense
Approach to Web Usability (2nd ed.). New Riders Press.