DonnaM » Blog Archive » Peugeot’s website made me want to buy …

Peugeot’s website made me want to buy …

… any car other than a Peugeot.

The back story …

I’ve recently started to think about buying a new car. I don’t mind my current one (it’s a Nissan X-trail) but it is a bit bigger than I need and sort of just not me. I’ve been thinking about buying a Peugeot for well over a year – they’re terribly green (very low fuel use, low emissions, and supposedly would run on biofuel if it ever turns up) terribly sexy and quite well-priced. Every time one goes by me I notice it and think about buying one. I hadn’t even considered buying anything else.

Until I visited their website.

I’m a girl – you probably know that. For me buying a car is a bit of a scary idea – every car purchase I’ve previously been involved in had a boy part to it. That shouldn’t be so scary, but there are still great big blocks of the consumer world where girls are treated differently (wine stores and wineries are the other, but I’ll whine about that later).

And I’m sort of organised, which is why I’m a decent information architect. You’d hardly expect me to do something so important without research. And I’m a web chick so the website was the natural place to start.

When I approached the website, I had three goals in mind – to find out about the new model that I had seen advertised, figure out which model was good for me, and learn enough to sound sensible when I went to the dealer. Sounds like a decent, straightforward research task.

Problem #1 – The home page:

Peugeot home page - one car image and little buttons with model numbers

Not much help there – a big picture and a bunch of numbers.

Problem #2: The ‘Model range’ page

Peugeot home page - one car image and lots of big buttons with model numbers

Another big picture and a bunch of numbers. This number problem is consistent in the whole car industry – you have to decipher the numbering system before doing anything.

Problem #3: The ‘Build your own car’ page

A filtering system, with yet another set of model numbers

No image this time, but still the numbers.

So I just dug around for a while (like, an hour) to figure out the numbering system and to vaguely figure out what I might want. I narrowed it down to a 207 (small hatchback), 307 (medium hatchback) and 308 (new, medium hatchback) with 5 doors and diesel. My main criteria are a hatch so I can drop the seats and put stuff in the back, low fuel use and low emissions.

Guess what I might want to do next? I might want to compare the specs for these three narrowed-down options side-by-side. Compare dimensions, options, fuel use, emissions and price. I’d sort of like a neat table that lets me scan and compare each.

Let’s give that a go – the ‘Build your own car’ so doesn’t build a car, but does let me filter into all the possible cars and display results.

Problem #4: The comparison results

After choosing 5-door hatch, diesel, it told me there were three models and 8 versions, so I thought that was enough. Here are the results:

Compare three families of car

I can choose each of these, but not compare. My only choice now is to open up each ‘family site’ and dig through it. No side-by-side comparison. Nothing but sending me into three different organisational silos (oh, and the links don’t work anyway, so I can’t go anywhere; and what the * does ‘visual no contractual’ mean).

Problem 5: No consistency

You know what makes this all worse. I could just cope with having to dig into three different ‘family sites’. If they were consistently done, I could find the specifications part for each and flick between browser tabs. But no, each family site is structured differently.

The page for the peugeot 207 series - one look and nav options

The page for the peugeot 307 series - another look and nav options

The page for the peugeot 308 series - another look and nav options

Different visual approach, different navigation options, different styles of content. I still can’t compare. I’d be better driving to the dealer, getting brochures and putting them side-by-side on my kitchen table. And what’s the point of having a website?

The conclusion…

You know, I only tolerated this because I really, really, really wanted to buy a Peugeot. But every minute and every further moment frustration decreased my love.

I started by being totally convinced a Peugeot was the car for me. I finished by making a stop this morning at the Alfa dealer.

And just as a last image, do you think they talking about the car, or bandwidth:

Do you want the 'high speed version' or the 'low speed version'

12 Responses to “Peugeot’s website made me want to buy …”

  1. NathanaelB Says:

    Total fail! Clearly absolutely no user engagement here – what a waste of money … not to mention probably counterbeneficial for the business. Hmm – that’s not even a word. It is now :-)

  2. Gary Barber Says:

    You can bet the entire site was build by designers for some ad agency, that has no idea about approaching the web. It almost seems to be a stringing together of bad functional concepts.

    Wonder if it was audience tested at all before being released :)

    No business, no customer focus, oh wait its focusing on the sales staff. Oh that’s okay then ;)

  3. Kate Carruthers Says:

    Yes totally agree with your comments. But none of the car companies have good websites anyway! This one actually has more & better information than many others, which indicates how appalling car websites are in general. Very sad situation – suspect Gary was right with his comment that it was probably built by some ad agency who are clueless about the web.

  4. Steve Baty Says:


    That’s a great illustration of poor web site usability having a detrimental effect on the brand. And a good example of not providing potential customers with the information they need in a useful manner.


  5. Ben Boyle Says:

    Great post! Makes me glad I gave up my license and use public transport … although their ticketing and timetable sites aren’t particular better (and require more frequent use!!)

  6. DonnaM » Blog Archive » Reducing the learning curve Says:

    [...] architecture, interaction design and much more « Peugeot’s website made me want to buy … DonnaM main [...]

  7. zuzu Says:

    I am actually one of those painful people that email companies when their websites fail like this. I say things like ‘difficult to use’, ‘unable to access the information I need’ etc. Even if I have no intention of buying I like to get under their skin.

  8. Donna Spencer Says:

    An update. Bought an Alfa. Didn’t even test drive a Peugeot…

  9. Man with no Blog » Perfect UX Not Required Says:

    [...] seems Donna Spencer has found a few car sites that are the exception to the rule, particularly the Peugeot site.  In [...]

  10. Phil Maude Says:

    Well my experience has been that I have loved the Peugeut too for about a year and thinking of buying one. The last two weekends I went out to look at cars and I went to the Melbourne City Peugeut dealer and the South Yarra dealer. I was in the store for about 20 minutes and not one person spoke to me. At Sth Yarra the manager asked me if I wanted anything but told me that he could not tell me about the cars. South Yarra Volkswaggon I was just in the door before I got approached and also over at Camberwell Volvo. Went over to Renault in Richmond and I got specs and a brochure and a bit of a hard sell. But there was life and interest. I was very disapointed as I have had my heart set on a Peug but now worry what will the after sales service be like. And the crazy thing is that I am definately in the market for a new car. I’m off ot have a look at the Alfa on the weekend. Thanks for your blog.

  11. Donna Maurer Says:

    Great example Phil. I had pretty bad service at the Peugeot shop too. I had to walk up to the counter, wait, then go hunting for someone to talk to me. In contrast, the guy from Alfa helped me immediately and when I returned he recognised me and remembered my name.

    And I’m still totally in love with my Alfa!

  12. Beth  Says:

    Ha Ha!! This was so much fun! Thanks for sharing your entire experience – especially with screenshots, and your comments on each pic made it even more fun!
    Finally did you buy an Alfa?
    PS – The last pic is the best one – about the bandwidth and the car :)

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