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Motoring website Auto Trader has recently launched a new version of its site in beta, updating the technology behind the site and introducing a more modern design.

The Auto Trader mobile website was impressive when I reviewed it recently, so I've decided to have a closer look at the new desktop site. It's a pretty big site, so I've confined my review to a used car search...

Homepage

It is a beta, so hopefully the homepage will be changed before the new version is made official, as the ads and colour scheme on the homepage make more difficult to read and scan than it needs to be.

The background of the page has been taken over by an ad for Holiday Inn, and all of it is clickable, meaning that you could easily end up on its website by mistake. Ads aside, the page is pretty cluttered, which can make it harder to scan.

Search box

Since the most important part of the page is likely to be the search box, I'd be inclined to make it more prominent as it does blend into the background at the moment.

The search box is pretty simple, with just six fields to fill in before users can start searching, with advanced search options available on the next page. One slight annoyance is that, with more than 100 car makes to choose from, you can't type the first letter of the make to jump to it on the drop down menu and save time scrolling.

Also, you have to enter a complete postcode before you can begin a search, otherwise you get this search message:

Options for refining and narrowing down your car search are excellent, and by displaying the number of matching results, it helps users to avoid returning no results at all.

You can easily add more filters without starting the search all over again, though you do have to manually update the results. Filtering options are good though, and you can be pretty specific about the car you are searching for:

Results pages

The results page is clear enough, and you have further sorting options to organise the results by price or distance. Since each listing has a brief preview, with a picture, and summary of key facts, it makes it easier to scan the listings.

However, the data could be tidied up a little to avoid confusing results. Sometimes distance is displayed as mileage, while ads that are irrelevant to the search, such as the one below to hire a Ferrari are mixed in:

The compare feature is a big improvement on the previous version of the site. You can now compare up to ten cars side by side at the bottom of the screen:

Auto Trader compare feature

Users can compare running costs, performance statistics and dimensions side by side, and minimise the tool so you can continue searching.

Used car listings

The car details are reasonably well presented, and there is plenty of statistical detail on performance and economy, while links to maps and directions are provided. A useful addition would be links to reviews of both the car models that are listed, as well as the dealer selling the car.

Conclusion

The Auto Trader website was certainly due an overhaul, but I'm not sure that this particular version is as good as it could be. The used car search works well in general, with some excellent search and filtering options, but it the overall look of the site could be improved to make key navigational links stand out better.

Graham Charlton

Published 23 October, 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 (16)

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Imran Khan

I am a big fan of Auto Trader and I am completely agreed that new website is not as good as it could be. Little things annoys sometime such as car listings appears in the same window so you can only view one car at a time; results page reloads again when you go back. I personally think previous pop-up window was good. Compare functionality is good and a big improvement.

almost 7 years ago

Peter Bordes

Peter Bordes, CEO & Founder at oneQube

The new site is an "almost" the functionality is "sort of "better . but over all is stuck between a 1.0 and 2.0. they have a great brand and following. it could have moved a lot further forward in this upograde

over 6 years ago

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Gavin Harris

I think the feedback on this blog (see URL below) kind of sums up the new website very well. I think the reviewer is being rather kind here...

http://autotraderblog.co.uk/2009/09/23/your-new-look-auto-trader-website/comment-page-7/#comments

over 6 years ago

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jamie

iv been using autotrader for years its been been brilliant. this new site is awfull. BRING BACK THE OLD,if it aint broke dont fix it!!

over 6 years ago

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rob

This new site is awful. It it the worst thought and least functional site i have ever experienced on the web. I have used autotrader for years but this new site is driving me mad. whoever designed and maintins it has done the autotrader name a lot of damage. Please sort out the many many problems with the new site or give me back the old one please.

over 6 years ago

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Jules

I was keen user of the Autotrader website.  I loved the simplicity and a functionality of the website.  However, I had noticed that Autotrader had created a new layout of the website.  I thought that the colour scheme was not to my preference; nevertheless, I was not doubtful of the functionality of the website was in jeopardy.   However, I recently attempted to use the website and it was completely unusable.   E.G on the old website you could scroll over any picture and it would give you a larger view.  Now an entire window has to be opened.  Also several errors occur during basic use of the website.

over 6 years ago

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ted

oh its shit.
-they know its shit.
-we know its shit.
-but the really funny thing is:
they know we know it's shit.
-how do we know they know we know it's shit?
...because they asked us in a helpful "e-survey"....AFTER they squeezed it out their ass.

over 6 years ago

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Steve

Need to sell my motorcycle very soon but do I use autoturkey no way !

Never mind the site will soon be consigned to the hall of web shame. Would be nice to know who built and designed it though.   

over 6 years ago

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Foster

New Auto Trader site is appalling. Images take soo long to load up and just crash the browser. Trying to cash in on too many ad's seems to be the problem. Shouldn't have tried to fix something that wasn't broken.

over 6 years ago

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John

What a load of shit!!! The old site was clear, defined and clearly about buying and selling vehicles. The new site is more about annoying third party flash ads with a crap colour scheme and looks home made. CHANGE IT BACK!!!!

over 6 years ago

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Paul

I'm pleased to find out that I'm not alone in finding the new Autotrader site terrible and a big backwards step from the old one (This is even after they've spent several months 'improving' it.) I can't believe that a business with such a strong market position has done something as stupid as this. Sites like vcars must be rubbing their hands....

over 6 years ago

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Mike Mcdonnell

I have feen Auto Trader for some time.  The old site is very good compared to the new one

over 6 years ago

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paul

Its a waste of time, used to be the best car site on the web.

Its now quicker to go the local Car Supermarket.

Than searching on autotrader.

about 6 years ago

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James Greenaway

Agree with most of the points. The new platform has some improved features but also some poor ones. One thing I have noticed that is a big problem is the speed of the site. It is much slower than the previous and as a result I know for a fact traffic levels to the site have dropped. One site that is causing a stir is www.autotrade-it.co.uk nice and simple to use and users can advertise their cars for free. It also has a full directory of dealers, garages and MOT centres in the uk. Well worth a look.

about 6 years ago

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Automotive Blog

The new website has a lot of potential but it could have been executed better in my opinion. I do prefer the old version. The new Iphone app is great though!

almost 6 years ago

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dave

the adverts piss me off , not just the number of them but the fact that they just throw them at you until you sink under the weight , and the page jumps and all i keep getting now is error , it wont even let me on ,utter crap !

over 5 years ago

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