Monday, October 09, 2006

review of Australian car web sites

It seems that Toyota isn't alone in having non-functional web sites. In fact it's better than some, the basic information on the cars is available and it is possible to get contact information for car dealers, also they have a feed-back form on their web site (to which I submitted my previous blog post). Incidentally the Lexus site had much the same problem as the Toyota site (hardly surprising as Lexus is the luxury marque from Toyota). But I expect that if I phoned Lexus to ask about their vehicles I would get a better call-center experience which would make me less inclined to blog about them.

Daihatsu vehicles are sold by Toyota. Their web site doesn't use Flash, but it has so little content that it doesn't count.

I decided to quickly review the web sites of car manufacturers that sell in Australia for a fair comparison. I found three sites worse than Toyota, two sites that were equal (counting Lexus), and six that were better than it.

Holden has the worst site, they don't display any information if you don't have flash, they don't even display a phone number! I wonder how much Adobe pays web programmers to pull this sort of stunt. I can't imagine Holden management saying "if a customer comes to our web site and doesn't have Flash then don't display our phone number or any other contact information, they can use Flash or buy a Ford instead". Obviously some web monkey has run amok and done their own thing without following directions. Probably some people need to be sacked in the Holden web development group.

Volvo Cars has a very bad site. Most of the content is involved with Flash in some way and refuses to load. There is a mailto reference that is broken, and the overview page for the S60 seems to have a JavaScript loop (I aborted the load after it loaded 245 pictures and was still going). The Volvo page for their other business is quite functional although minimal.

Hyundai has a bad site. The front page works OK, but some of the sub-sites to display information on vehicles redirect to sites such as which are "optimised for 1024x768" and require Flash and Quicktime while others do strange things like changing the size of the browser window. Overall it's a very bad site, but at least I could find the contact details for my nearest dealer, and it has a feedback form.

Subaru has an OK site. The only thing I couldn't access without Flash is information on their AWD (All Wheel Drive) technology. Unfortunately they provide no email address and no form for sending feedback.

The main Ford web page claims that Flash is required, but their site just works without it. In a quick test I was unable to find any functionality on the Ford site that is missing because of not having Flash. Ford have a well designed site.

The Volkswagen site makes no mention of the fact that I don't use Flash, it does however have some strange unused spaces in the middle of the screen. I guess that it recognised that I don't have Flash and made a semi-successful attempt to work around it. I could get all information I wanted including dealer contact details.

The main Mazda web page displays a message about Flash not being installed and offers a link to a non-Flash version of the site. The Flash section is at the center and the buttons at the sides work if you don't have Flash. This seems to be a well implemented site.

Citroen has an OK site, no flash that I noticed (although there were large blank areas on the screen at times indicating that something was missing), the information was all available and browsing was reasonably easy. One thing that annoyed me was that there were movies available but only through some sort of JavaScript that tried to play them in my browser. I have never bothered setting up my web browsing machine for playing movies (among other things it has no speakers) so this is a problem for me.

Peugeot has a good site. No apparent flash and it's reasonably easy to use. It has more pictures than Kia but the JavaScript navigation stuff is fancy. One nice feature is a single page with pricing summaries for all models. If you have $X to spend on a Peugeot you will easily discover which ones you can afford.

Kia has the best site I saw! Not only is there no flash, but it's well designed, easy to navigate and it loads quite quickly. Please review the Kia site as an example of how to do it properly!

Let me know if I've missed any makes and I'll post an update.


Anonymous said...

what do you mean there's no flash on the Kia website? first thing on the website is a big flash area. not to mention a smaller flash self-advertizement beneath it.

i suppose maybe you meant you can navigate the site perfectly without flash, but that's not quite what you wrote.

etbe said...

I mean that when I visit the Kia site with a non-flash browser everything just works and I notice nothing missing and no big gaps in the screen.

I don't mind if Flash is there as an optional extra, just as long as the site is fully functional without it (as the Kia site appears to be).

Anonymous said...

You don't have the time to shave, yet you review those websites which you can't access using your silly OS.

I say switch to a better operating system, and get a car you want, rather than be stubborn and go for a second rate car. Perhaps you want everything second rate, your OS, your car, your face...

Anonymous said...

etbe, ahh.. point taken :)

to other anonymous, thanks for making us all look like idiots.

etbe said...

To the sensible anonymous, don't worry, most people can work out that the fools are in a small minority.

To the loser who posted anonymously (as losers usually do):

I don't plan to get a second-rate car. The best information I have available suggests that the hybrid Camry will be one of the best cars available when it's released here and I plan to buy one. The lack of access to the web site means that I will have to spend more time on the phone to Toyota (costing their call-center money). It also means that I am restricted in my ability to refer other people to their web site and discussions on car technology which include visually impaired people will not involve discussion of the Camry - both these factors will hurt their marketting.

Lack of the security flaw which is known as Flash is not a problem. One of the biggest advantages of Free Software is that the code is widely reviewed for security problems. Flash is not free and is not reviewed for security problems, so it gives the same level of security that you expect from MS-Windows.