Website usability: Hyundai

Recently, I've had the pleasure (or not) of shopping for a new car. Our family seems to be forever growing larger, and the hassle of travelling everywhere in two vehicles is finally starting to wear a little too much. I'm a big believer in reviews, so I checked out several and armed with those and a good idea of my budget, we quickly settled on the right car for us - the Hyundai iMax. This isn't a review of that vehicle, but instead a moan about that age old problem of 'heavy websites'.

Whilst we had a good idea of the vehicle we wanted, the colour was something we still had to agree on - so we hit www.hyundai.com.au. We did this in the evening, on a couch, on a relatively small laptop with a relatively slow wireless connection.

First problem; we saw the home page, we saw a large slow-loading Flash movie, and - well, not much else. We had to wait. And wait.

And wait....

Finally, 'Rodger' appears and starts telling us he's our guide to finding the right vehicle for us. He gets a few words out, but then stutters to a stop. And we wait...

Now, I (and MANY other people, from my testing experience) absolutely detest movies that load up and play without my choice or control - especially when I can't easily turn them off. Fortunately for us, Rodger had a minuscule - and I mean minuscule - 'off' switch, top right of the screen. Once we saw it he stopped stuttering and explaining the menu to us - but unfortunately didn't stop pointing at the menu's and explaining. The off controlled the volume, but not the movie. Therefore the page continued to slowly load and choke the laptop, whilst we struggle to see where to start. Great.

I won't go through the entire site experience, to be honest it wasn't horrendous but like the home page the rest of the site is heavy with visuals, animation and 'pomp'. It was in effect a very slow and painful process, not helped by the fact that the one decision we needed to make (colour) couldn't be made as the colour name we were given by a salesman doesn't appear.

Now I know I'm not the same as every other customer out there, but for me the rich, vibrant, deeply emersive experience I want is in the showroom, where I can touch and smell the car. On the website I want facts, pictures yes, and maybe even movies - but at my choice. I don't want long boring useless movies frustrating me before I get anywhere near the car page I want, and I definitely don't want Rodger explaining that I need to click on 'Latest offers' if I want to see what offers are available - I'm pretty sure I could have worked that bit out for myself.

For my money this is a clear case of getting the experience online completely wrong, based purely on brand and market research.

Unless of course I'm nothing like the average Hyundai purchaser...

Gary Bunker

the Fore