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Autorader.co.uk is the most popular motoring website in the UK, claiming 10m unique visitors per month. It also has a mobile version, which it relaunched last year.

It offers an alternative to used car search tools on manufacturer's websites, which can be frustrating to use, and it's a potentially useful service for people to compare car prices on the move. I've been trying out the mobile site...

Homepage / search tools

The Autotrader mobile site looks good, with good use of colour to make the most important links stand out well. The homepage is much stripped down compared to the desktop version of the site.

As a result, it is far less cluttered, making it easier to get on with the job of searching for used cars. The search tool dominates the homepage, though are are some articles and car reviews if you scroll further down.

The search box initially provides just the basic options of make, model, postcode and price range:

Autotrader search box

The number of cars matching the search parameters is displayed underneath, and this alters after you update each search option, providing a useful indicator of whether or not users need to be more specific, or use the advanced search options.

The search fields are easy enough to fill for most, but since there are so many different makes of car, if you want a VW or a Volvo, you have a lot of scrolling to do:


Advanced search options

If you choose a relatively common make of car, such as the VW Golf, or have specific requirements, you're likely to need to use some advanced search options to narrow the search.

The options on offer cover most bases here, especially as there is a keyword search option, but if you start on the basic search and decide to switch to advance, it will not keep the data you have already entered, which can be annoying:

Autotrader mobile advanced search

Results pages

Car search results are displayed clearly, and users have the option of showing fewer results per page to limit the amount of scrolling required:

There are some useful sorting options as well which enable users to manipulate the order of search results, while the option to go back and add further filters is also provided.

Car listings

Listings are well presented, though it doesn't get the mileage right on these pages, something which should be corrected, as it makes it harder to search and view cars according to mileage, an important factor in a car buyers' decision.

In the example below, this VW Golf actually has 76,000 miles on the clock, but the listing says 76, which doesn't really help:

Key features of the car are easily scannable, such as the fuel type, transmission and body style, though the text in the listings could do with some punctuation and sub-headings or bullet points to make it more readable on a small mobile screen.

Photos are good though, and are large enough to get a decent view of the car:

Autotrader mobile product page

Further down the page, there are some useful options; to call the seller, make notes and save for later viewing, pinpoint the seller's location on the map, and more:

Conclusion

Autotrader has kept it simple to use, while retaining the advanced search and filtering functionality which is needed for useful and accurate product searches.

While there are some tweaks which could improve the usability of this mobile site, it is generally an excellent search tool which has transferred well to mobile from the main Autotrader website.

Graham Charlton

Published 2 September, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (8)

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Lorraine

I was involved in the user research of this mobile site a while back and am happy to see some improvements to the older version I tested. The advanced feature is great and something people requested.

I still feel there is a real split between the advantages of scrolling menus as opposed to typing your search words. The type of phone you use seems to be one factor and it would be interesting to know which phone was used to conduct this review.

about 7 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Lorraine.

I used an iPhone for this, perhaps it works better on other phones. When there is so much scrolling to be done, maybe keyword search would be better.

about 7 years ago

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Lorraine

Hi Graham,

When we did testing we got participants to use their own phone so had a variety but I don't think anyone had an iPhone at the time. I would hope that smart phones like the iPhone could handle the site best and agree with you on very long scrolling menus. Some of the competitor sites we also tested approached the problem by displaying every item on the page for users to tab through but this caused just as many problems. Sometimes typing is best.

about 7 years ago

Joseph Griffiths-Barrasso

Joseph Griffiths-Barrasso, Digtial Marketing Executive at Bauer Media

Why not give user shte option to switch between scrolling and typing?

about 7 years ago

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Harry Davies

The new autotrader website is just terrible. It's slow and annoying to use. Why change it when it worked fine.

about 7 years ago

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Used Cellphones

Windows 7 mobile broadband drivers use the new features introduced by Network Driver Interface Specification

almost 7 years ago

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bilgicity

thank you very much

over 6 years ago

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alan

i would type a word here that describes autotrader easily but it would be censored ........ it actually works well when it works @ 5% of the time the rest of the time you would do better walking the streets hopeing to get run over by a car you want to buy hence i wouldnt say anything worthwile about this site and god help anyone in a hurry useing it

over 3 years ago

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