2014 Volkswagen Website

The one thing that is certain in life is change, especially in the fast-moving world of the internet. So it's not usually news when an automaker redesigns its website. However, Volkswagen of America just launched a major revamp of its site to try and make it a less intimidating way to research about and buy its cars. It's simple and clean, but the new look is drawing the ire of some few visitors because its minimalist design makes some information hard to find.

The goal was to "take away the intimidation and make buyers feel empowered."

The new site has a simplified, tablet-first concept that reduces the number of necessary clicks to find a car. The biggest change, though, is that it replaces the traditional configurator to build and price with "Find a Match." With it, users choose things like the model, color, engine and features they want, and the database finds corresponding models from nearby dealers. While it's a quick way to find a vehicle, you're searching for rather than creating a specific car. The system also obscures the cost of individual options and packages.

Paige Parrent, Digital Platforms Manager at Volkswagen Marketing, guided the design process for the new site. The goal was to "take away the intimidation and make buyers feel empowered," she told Autoblog. That meant making the build process more transparent and giving users immediate feedback. It's no longer about what's possible, but what's available. "We want to match people with the cars they love."

Online dating and e-commerce websites inspired the layout.

Users can still find prices by trim level, but it's an obtuse process. They have to go to the model page, select "Explore Trims," and then "View Trims." This section is also where a vehicle's full specs are located. Generally, the site only calls out basic technical data like fuel economy and power. Focus testing, says VW, showed those details were most important to buyers. At the moment, there is no way to view dealer-installed options on the car when finding a match, but Parrent said this feature would be added later.

Online dating and e-commerce websites inspired the layout. Like dating, logic plays a role in buying a car, but it's an emotional decision in the end, Parrent believes. Aesthetically, the site works well with quick load times and detailed images, and some users are responding well. "They appreciate the boldness of the design," said Parrent. That said, it might take time for the brand's enthusiasts to get used to the streamlined, less-technical flow.

Check out the gallery above for some examples of the new layout or just go to VW.com. Scroll down to read the automaker's press release about the revamp.
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MEET YOUR (AUTO) MATCH WITH THE ALL-NEW VW.COM

The redesigned VW.com website allows consumers to shop desired features and instantly connect to available vehicles at dealerships near them

Herndon, VA (April 28, 2014) - Volkswagen of America officially launched a newly redesigned VW.com (www.vw.com) today, following a soft launch late last week. This uses functionality influenced by online dating and e-commerce to let consumers easily shop for cars based on desired features, such as color or price, among the available inventory of more than 80,000 vehicles at Volkswagen dealerships nationwide.

"With the new VW.com experience, consumers don't need to know our product lineup to find a car that's right for them," said Vinay Shahani, Vice President, Brand Marketing, Volkswagen of America. "Consumers simply select the features they want, and VW.com instantly connects them to a range of options based on both their needs and available inventory in their area. We're excited to be at the forefront of this type of online innovation that utilizes a truly intuitive approach."

The newest inventory-led shopping experience in branded auto sites

Traditional branded car shopping sites invite consumers to configure cars to match their preferences - but those vehicles aren't always in stock. VW.com combines the buying and configuring tools at each stage of the shopping process, allowing consumers to shop for the features they want, and view a variety of cars available at dealerships near them. The site features more than 80,000 "profile" pages, playing off of popular online dating sites, for in- stock vehicles nationwide.

"Consumers who come to a dealership because of inventory online are twice as likely to make a purchase as those who came from a configurator that's not attached to accessible inventory," Shahani says. "VW.com helps connect people with cars that are actually available for sale."

VW.com puts the shopper first

Each individual car for sale has a comprehensive profile page with pictures, features, specs, limited warranty, awards, accessories and dealer information-as well as tools, such as a Payment Estimator, on the vehicle detail page where the consumer needs it. Additionally, VW.com was designed for the tablet first, so one of the first things a shopper will notice is a clean, image-rich design that makes it simple to navigate.

"Our goal was to put the consumer's needs first," says Winston Binch, Chief Digital Officer at Deutsch LA, Volkswagen's digital agency of record and the developer of VW.com. "We did that by keeping things radically simple, reducing clicks, and focusing on getting people to real cars quickly-not vehicle configurations that are hard to find in real life."

Features of the new VW.com

All of the images on a car model page reflect the exact colors and features of that particular
model. In addition to gallery imagery, 360-degree views and highlighted features, each model page has all available trims linkable to current inventory. Customers can "favorite" individual cars that interest them, and access those vehicles from the main navigation.

Features of the new VW.com include:
● Inventory-led shopping experience: Customers can specify desired features and find
cars near them that match their needs from the VW.com inventory of more than
80,000 vehicle profiles.
● Non-linear shopping flow: Customers can find cars through a variety of search
capabilities, from style and color ("red convertible") to specific features ("premium sound"), and each car has its own profile page−not dissimilar from popular dating site profile pages as well.
● Contextual information and tools: Tools such as the Payment Estimator are built into the shopping experience so users don't need to leave the profile page to get to them.
● Full model line information: Each model page has all available trims linkable to current inventory.
● Feature-focused inventory pages: Certain high-profile features such as Fender® Premium Audio System have their own pages, which also display inventory.
● Real-time feed with Volkswagen news: All VW social content is aggregated into a single interface, so users can keep their finger on the brand's pulse. Content can be sorted by model.
DealerMatch

The buying process has also become more streamlined for Volkswagen dealers. VW recently partnered with DealerMatch to create an online marketplace where Volkswagen dealers can buy and sell used vehicles among themselves.

About Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc., an operating unit of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWoA) is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. VWoA's operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers, and its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Volkswagen Group is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. VWoA sells the Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Eos, Golf, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, Passat, CC, Tiguan, and Touareg vehicles through approximately 640 independent U.S. dealers.

Notes:
This press release is available at media.vw.com. Follow us @VWNews
"VW", "Volkswagen", all model names and the Volkswagen logo are registered trademarks of Volkswagen AG.

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