Swadeology snippets on a Friday night…..Saab website edition

Hej,

Sorry for the lack of posting this evening. It’s been a very eventful night full of high tension, a fair measure of anger (who the heck invented teenagers???!!!) and finally, a goodly measure of happiness and relief.
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Thanks for all the Q&A questions.

I reckon I can answer around 90% of them with a little help from some friends. I’ll get to that tomorrow.
I’ll close it off for now as I think there’s more than enough to keep me engaged for some time.
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Here’s a good question – In all honesty, what do you think of Saab’s website? I’m talking about the global website as a template and the other national sites that use that template.
For the record – I like it. A lot. But it’s not perfect.

I just read an interesting article on a site called e-consultancy, where the author discusses the layout of various car manufacturer’s websites. This is of particular interest to me, of couse, as I spend a heck of a lot of time in this area. Not to mention the fact that nowadays, it’s becoming more and more the first point of contact for potential customers.

One of the websites mentioned in the article, albeit briefly, is the Saab GB website. They’re critical of the Saab site for using too much Flash – and I can see their point. On slower connections, it can take a while to load up. Having said that, I think they’ve decided that their typical client is more likely to have a broadband connection at reasonable speed – and they’ve built the site to suit that demographic.

Perhaps more to the point, though, is their later writings about Ford, Fiat, Vauxhall, Jeep and Toyota.
They analyse these sites in terms of the customer experience and the need for a customer to find information about the type of car they’re looking for. Some are given kudos for allowing people to select what’s important for them, with the site providing cars to match the customer’s needs.

Others are praised for their comparison facilities, where customers can compare within the company’s model line, and even against competitive models.

SaabGBwebsite.jpg

I actually really like the look and feel of the Saab GB website, which matches the standard set by the global site. It’s minimalist and meets my expectations of Scandinavian design in terms of the way it looks.
But I do have to concede that they have a point with regard to customer functionality.

The theory is that if you provide the information the customer wants to use in order to make an informed decision, then the customer is more likely to appreciate the experience and take it further.

If there’s a criticism of Saab’s site in this regard, it’s that you’ve got to look at all the pictures and decide what might suit your needs. There’s no up-front comparison showing brief facts about the vehicles right there on the front page.

You have to go through several screens before you are told the range of engines available in a Saab 9-3x, for example. And each of those screens is loaded with Flash, which takes longer to load – if it loads at all.
This is me trying to look at pictures of the 9-3 Sport Sedan. Two minutes later I’ve still effectively got a blank page (Mac, Firefox, Broadband connection at 512)

SaabGBnotworking.jpg

I got the overview screen to load, but I still can’t get the pictures section to show.

Now, I’m a Saab nut doing some website exploration for the purposes of a blog post. But if I was a customer…..? I know from my own experience that people hang around for an average of three minutes or less on this site (and that average is probably pushed out by people who load and leave it on screen in the background). New visitors assess and decide on a website within the first few seconds, so it’s got to be right.

It’s ironic that the SaabUSA site, which has the look and feel of a piece of cold steel, has that comparison engine right there on the front page.
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Over all, I really love the European Saab websites. I think they’re a great presentation and communicate Saab’s corporate identity really well.

But with Saab’s traditional emphasis on form following function, perhaps they could benefit from e-consultancy’s advice.

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