VW introduces radically different new consumer site, draws mixed reviews

Filed under: Technology, Volkswagen, Design/Style

2014 Volkswagen Website

The one thing that is certain in life is change, especially in the fast-moving world of the internet. So it’s not usually news when an automaker redesigns its website. However, Volkswagen of America just launched a major revamp of its site to try and make it a less intimidating way to research about and buy its cars. It’s simple and clean, but the new look is drawing the ire of some few visitors because its minimalist design makes some information hard to find.

The goal was to “take away the intimidation and make buyers feel empowered.”

The new site has a simplified, tablet-first concept that reduces the number of necessary clicks to find a car. The biggest change, though, is that it replaces the traditional configurator to build and price with “Find a Match.” With it, users choose things like the model, color, engine and features they want, and the database finds corresponding models from nearby dealers. While it’s a quick way to find a vehicle, you’re searching for rather than creating a specific car. The system also obscures the cost of individual options and packages.

Paige Parrent, Digital Platforms Manager at Volkswagen Marketing, guided the design process for the new site. The goal was to “take away the intimidation and make buyers feel empowered,” she told Autoblog. That meant making the build process more transparent and giving users immediate feedback. It’s no longer about what’s possible, but what’s available. “We want to match people with the cars they love.”

Online dating and e-commerce websites inspired the layout.

Users can still find prices by trim level, but it’s an obtuse process. They have to go to the model page, select “Explore Trims,” and then “View Trims.” This section is also where a vehicle’s full specs are located. Generally, the site only calls out basic technical data like fuel economy and power. Focus testing, says VW, showed those details were most important to buyers. At the moment, there is no way to view dealer-installed options on the car when finding a match, but Parrent said this feature would be added later.

Online dating and e-commerce websites inspired the layout. Like dating, logic plays a role in buying a car, but it’s an emotional decision in the end, Parrent believes. Aesthetically, the site works well with quick load times and detailed images, and some users are responding well. “They appreciate the boldness of the design,” said Parrent. That said, it might take time for the brand’s enthusiasts to get used to the streamlined, less-technical flow.

Check out the gallery above for some examples of the new layout or just go to VW.com. Scroll down to read the automaker’s press release about the revamp.

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VW introduces radically different new consumer site, draws mixed reviews originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 02 May 2014 17:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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