TopGear.com, the sister site to the popular BBC motoring programme, has been trumpeting its relaunch with a series of viral videos seeded on sites like YouTube and Facebook.
The look of the site has been improved, while car reviews, and more blog and video content has been added. The redesigned TopGear.com also displays new and used cars from AutoTrader. This brings it into competition with sites like Autocar and Parkers, so I've been seeing how it compares.
The homepage (below) with its wooden dashboard look, is well designed and laid out, making the page easy to scan for visitors. The previous site didn't quite fill the whole screen and had a blank space on the right, but it is now centred and looks much better for it. The latest news articles, blogs and video content is well presented without being too cluttered.
The reviews section compiles hundreds of car reviews from the Top Gear magazine. The verdicts are presented with a mark out of twenty for each car. Photos are good, while a 360 view of each car is shown alongside some detailed technical information on each car. Related videos from the TV show are provided, while cars for sale are shown.
The information is well presented and is a useful resource for people researching new car purchases. The reviews aren't as detailed as on sites like Parkers, but the related video content is more appealing.
Used car search
Reviews link to an option to search AutoTrader for new or used cars, though this can be frustrating at times. A number of my searches for what should be common cars returned no results, which suggests a few teething problems with the new site.
Results are well presented when you can get some, but suffer from the same drawbacks as on the Autotrader site. Some of the data has not been organised too well, so you get five year old cars listed as having no mileage. There is no way of sorting the results also, which would be useful when searches return a large number of results.
The 'advanced search' options are pretty inadequate too, with just price range and four other options to choose from, which is far less than provided on the Autotrader website, and makes it harder to search effectively and find the exact model you are looking for.
The site will doubtless become a popular destination for people looking for clips from the TV show, and TopGear.com does an excellent job of presenting video clips and making them easy to search for.
A series guide gives details of each Top Gear episode broadcast with links to videos from that programme. Users can also search for a clip by keyword, or choose from the categories on offer: outtakes, reviews, challenges etc.
The site has four new Wordpress blogs, featuring frequent contributions from the three presenters, as well as the team from the magazine. The scrapbook design works well, and content is well presented. I like the boxes on the right which display the most commented and most popular posts, as well as the tag cloud.
The team behind the relaunch have done an excellent job with the site, it is well designed, easy to use, and full of good content. Unfortunately, according to the rate card, it will be offering advertisers the option of overlays, an intrusive and pretty lame ad format which can spoil the user experience.