Sunday, July 8, 2007

website-over-engineering practice

I noticed in this morning's paper that VW are launching a new car, the Tiguan. As I like to know exactly what I will buy when my premium bond comes up, I keep track of new cars that interest me. So I put 'VW Tiguan' in a search engine and followed a link to the VW 'mini-site' for the car. Then I did some work on my next book while it downloaded. Then I made a cup of coffee. Then I did some more work - and I was still looking at the page shown below.
Now I have broadband at home. How fast? I don't know, but I've never had problems with websites downloading before - and given what I do, I look at a lot of sites. Eventually, repeated clicking on the 'skip' button took me to a registration page. So I registered. And tried again to look at the new car. I clicked on the '360 degree' view. And again, got on with something else while the page downloaded. Well at least I think I was waiting for it to download. I tried clicking on anything and everything to get the page to rotate around the car. Eventually - of its own accord - the picture of the car 'jerked' to a different view. I then tried 'gallery' and got a series of pictures of the car in different colours - but no interior shots.

Now here's the thing. I know it is a hooby-horse of mine, and I appreciate design technology has a place, but I went to that site to find out about the car - and yes I teach marketing strategy, I am aware of the process of new car launch promotion - but I came away with nothing more than I had learned from the Sunday Times article.

I do not know:
  • What the interior is like
  • What size engines are available
  • What emissions the engines have [unlike many, I'm not big on green issues, but in the UK car taxes are determined by emissions]
  • When the car will be available
  • Any specifications at all eg available in automatic
  • Any idea of the price range
So, [a] maybe VW don't want to tell me ths information - if this is the case, why have the mini-site - what are its objectives?, and [b] everything I wanted to know could have been presented on a web site written in plain html with clear pictures and well written text.

In the car industry there is an issue called 'over-engineering'. This is where a car costs more in development and building costs than the target market is willing to pay. In this case the website was over-engineered - and the 'cost' of its development [my time] was more than I was willing to pay.

Because I have already told you, you know I cannot afford one of these cars. But - and it is a big but - whoever signed off on that web site does not. Tomorrow morning, I could be off to the nearest Nissan dealers to pay cash for a new Quashqai, and that website gave me no reason to stop off at the VW dealers on the way.

For all its fancy design work, that website is not helping to sell VW Tiguans. So why does it exist? And here's a twist. Its cost [part of the car's marketing cost] will be included in the price customers pay for the car. Sorry VW, I like your cars, but I don't like your online marketing.

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