What’s wrong with PEIauto.com?

In an earlier piece I commented briefly on the PEIauto.com website, and mentioned that I felt that it had some usability problems. In reaction to that piece, the people behind the site asked what I meant. So here goes:

1. Don’t change the colour of my scroll bar. It might be all cool and everything, but when you screw around with my browser you confuse me rather than help. I don’t consider my scroll bar a part of my screen real estate that you should modify.

2. The Big Useful Thing about your website is that you have a good database of used cars for sale. You make a point of this yourself: you say “largest vehicle database on PEI” in bold type. But then you go and make it hard to find out how to actually search. Big Useful Things should be easy to find, not hidden under a small “Search” link in the sidebar or below the fold under “Features of the Site.”

3. While it might be nice to imagine that one can buy an Alfa Romeo on PEI, this isn’t actually the case, at least right now. So why is Alfa Romeo one of the choices in your “Make” pull-down list? A good search engine dynamically limits search options to only those things that actually exist; the existing setup is frustrating because many searches produce no results at all (Alfa Romeo, Triumph, Suzuki, etc.).

4. Isn’t one of the Great Things about the malleable Internet that you can take “sold” cars out of the listings once they’ve, well, sold. If there’s some compelling reason for leaving these listings in the search results, then at least give me the option of leaving them out when I set up my search.

5. When you depart from a cardinal convention of the web like “you can click on anything that’s blue and underlined” there should be a really, really good reason. I can’t see what this reason is with your site: you make it more difficult to navigate the site by reinventing the hyperlinked indicator.

6. The fidelity of the photos attached to listings could use some improvement. Many photos are too dark, making it hard to get a good impression of the vehicle in question.

That’s about it, in my eyes. As I said in my original piece, and want to reinforce here, PEIauto.com is generally solid, especially given that you’ve got enough of an inventory to make the site worth spending some time with. But if you correct some of the problems I’ve outlined above it could be even better.

Comments

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on November 11, 2001 - 20:57

Good points Peter. Perhaps you’ve seen Jakob Nielsen’s new book? He takes what you have done to PEIauto.com and does it to 50 popular websites. You can read my (sort of) review.

A few suggestions of my own:<ul>
<li>Use text links rather than graphics on the left menu (not a convention I always follow myself, but I think it would work well here)
<li>Move the list of searchable items (Cars, Trucks, Classics, etc.) from the bottom of the site to the top. That’s why were on the site.
</ul>

I’m impressed with the number of cars listed. Good job there.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on November 11, 2001 - 21:06

Before there was Jakob Neilsen, there was David Seigel. If I’m going to workship a false idol I’d like him to at least have some sense of joie de vivre.

Alan McLeod's picture
Alan McLeod on November 12, 2001 - 03:33

I can’t worship any false idol without the last name Ramone.

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on November 13, 2001 - 18:44

The folks at PEIAuto.com have taken a few of Peter’s suggestions (no more colored scroll-bar, links are now underlined). Nice improvements. Good work folks.

Kevin O's picture
Kevin O on November 14, 2001 - 23:27

Yeah, (Steve says lots of stuff fixed) I went looking for all the sins and couldn’t find them. I guess I should be more dilligent about getting here soon after things are posted.


And, you guys are right, PEIAuto.com is an excellent (well, you did say “good”) site for what it’s trying to do. It’s hard to add pizzaz to a web site without stomping all over good taste or usability (ISN should know, we’ve had very few versions of our home page that I’ve ever been more than ~merely content~ with).

Terry Perry's picture
Terry Perry on November 23, 2001 - 14:27

As you can see, we have taken “to heart” many of the suggestions put forth re our website. (that’s http://www.peiauto.com) A thousand apologies for the scroll bar thing — it didn’t happen to my browser so I kind of forgot about it. Thank you.

As for the “SOLD” units, some advertisers like to have some showing sold for a while while others want them taken off right away — so in this case we are only following our advertisers wishes.

We always welcome comments and criticisms, that’s one of the ways we learn.

I would like to comment about our “competition”. That is, those in the advertising business but obviously not the “web” business who are attempting to do what we do with automotive advertising on the web. Our site was conceived lonnng before it was launched — we wanted to make it “good” for users and for advertisers. During our development and market research (read uncertainty)phase, a couple of other businesses launched sites to compete with (not similar to) ours. You all know which ones they are. The big advantage they have is their deep pockets and ability to promote their sites a thousand times a day. Any suggestions on how to overcome this?

Any comments on our banner advertising??

By the way, Kevin O, perhaps we could help you with your home page.

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