Docstoc

Several of the listed sites are either discontinued bought out by

Document Sample
Several of the listed sites are either discontinued bought out by Powered By Docstoc
					Web Evaluation Assignment:
    Looking for a Car
       www.autotrader.com
       www.edmunds.com
       www.cars.com
       www.autos.msn.com
       www.kbb.com
       www.carsdirect.com


            Nathalie Hunt
             Gregg Orr
             Pete Elam
       Overview

       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.

http://www.autotrader.com/about/pressroom/media/pressrelease_detail.jsp?contentid=24618

http://siy.cars.com/siy/packageSelection.jsp?adKey=ad_1173069937848&aff=national
    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.



    1. AUTOTRADER.COM

        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.

           a. Information

       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.




           b. Interface

       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.

           c. Interaction

       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.



   2. EDMUNDS.COM

       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.

           a. Information

       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.

           b. Interface

       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.

           c. Interaction

       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

they were.

            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.



    3. CARS.COM

        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

criteria.

               a. Information

        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.

              b. Interface

       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

get advice.

       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.

              c. Interaction
       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,

and location.

       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.



   4. AUTOS.MSN.COM

       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.

           a. Information

       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.

           b. Interface

       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.




           c. Interaction

       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.
   5. KBB.COM

       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

by Cars.com.

           a. Information

       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.

           b. Interface

       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.

           c. Interaction

       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

overwhelmed.
   6. CARSDIRECT.COM

       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.

           a. Information

       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.




           b. Interface

       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.

           c. Interaction

       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.
       Redesign

       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.




                                      Edmunds.com Redesign
                                                 Appendix A


       Information, Interaction, Interface Design Evaluation Rubric

                                        Information Design
                           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
                                                back                             (p.96)
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
                                                link
Word Choice    Information is                   Information is too long          Information
               ambiguous                        to scan                           is clear and concise
                                                                                 (needless words are
                                                                                 omitted) (p.45)
                                          Interface Design
                         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
                                                             pages                          clearly
 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


                                           Interaction Design
                          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
                                                                                           (p.42-43)
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
                                                                                   emotional components
References:

Tidwell, J. (2005). Designing Interfaces. Sebastopol, CA:O’
        Reilly Media.

Krug, S. (2005). Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense
       Approach to Web Usability (2nd ed.). New Riders Press.

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:1
posted:6/12/2012
language:
pages:27