… 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:
Not much help there – a big picture and a bunch of numbers.
Problem #2: The ‘Model range’ page
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
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:
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.
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?
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: