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It’s time to live vicariously through rapper The Game, various Premiership footballers and the lead singer of Jamiroquai.
Most of us can relate to browsing for a Kia or a MINI online, interacting with its social channels, endlessly researching customisable features on a mobile device and maybe even buying one via an ecommerce store.
Now let’s imagine we’ve all gone up a pay grade (or ten).
What’s it like carrying out the above online tasks with a brand from the luxury sports end of the automotive industry?
How does it feel to browse the online catalogue of Ferrari? What’s it like asking Lamborghini’s Twitter account “why hasn’t my Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster turned up yet?” Is it possible to even attempt the checkout process without being snootily (and rightfully) removed from the virtual forecourt by the scruff of my filthy shirt collar? I may have to borrow someone else’s credit card to find out.
So with all of this in mind I’ll be standing between the two powerhouses of speed and aspirational materialism, waving my chequered flag and seeing which of the two super cars makes it past the finishing line and which one ends up bonnet first in a ditch.
GO GO GO!
Ferrari’s desktop website is a strange affair. The homepage is responsive with nice overlarge images, however it still feels clunky and somewhat dated with many design flaws that make themselves known almost immediately.
Ignoring the poorly optimised text and jarring carousel for now, the major stalling point here is how the site sits marooned in the middle of your browser window. It looks like a Flash site, without actually being built using Flash. In fact it seems to be built using the open-source framework ASP.NET.
If you increase the browser, the black space around the site just gets more and more vast. The image above is how the browser looked taking up just over half the physical space of my monitor.
The site may not be upwardly responsive but it is downwardly. Unfortunately there’s something not quite right with the code here.
It gets worse the smaller your browser is.
We’ll take a look at mobile in another section.
The navigation is inconsistent. You would expect the menu that refuses to budge a single pixel on the homepage to remain throughout the site.
It doesn’t. As soon as you click on the first option GT & Sport Cars, you are taken to a completely different looking page and the menu moves to a tabbed list across the top.
Again I’m having issues reading the text here. Then when I click on the next link - Formula 1 - the menu moves right across the page.
Click on Ferrari Store or Museums and you’re taken to completely different web experiences again.
The store is actually completely responsive, unlike every other page after the homepage, and has a modern, minimalist feel.
The Museums section less so.
It’s now that I realise that each of the links across the top navigates to seemingly standalone websites, rather than subdomains housed within one site. Each feels and looks like they’ve been built by completely different teams. It’s completely misleading and makes for a dreadfully inconsistent experience.
For those interested in owning a Ferrari, the GT & Sport Cars section contains lots of great detail, nice fluid animation, attractive drop down menus and a menu bar that remains at the top of the page when you scroll down.
It’s a much more sophisticated experience, far more in line with the brand.
Here you’ll find a wealth of information and interactive material on every model available.
You can fully customise a Ferrari in this excellent Build Your Own app, which lets you see the model from any angle.
There are also useful embedded videos, and this engine specification that lets you hear the roar of the V12 from the comfort of your own home.
If you wish to make an enquiry, there’s an online form to submit.
Or you can find a dealer using this brilliant map that uses swiftly uses geolocation to find exactly where I am.
I particularly like the subtle use of grey to make the red much more striking. Also the consistency of brand font, the clear links to dealership websites and the easy way to get directions.
Of course in my opening paragraphs I was being purposely naive about being able to buy a Ferrari online via its own website. The important point here is that the website must sell the idea of owning a Ferrari effectively and make the next steps - visiting a dealership - a natural and easy progression. It does this very well.
It’s just a shame about the rest of the Ferrari website housed around it.
Over at Lamborghini I feel like I’ve entered the super futuristic and terrifying world of the Terminator.
Although things soon get a lot more fun…
Lamborghini’s website is fully responsive, has logical navigation and simple menus.
There’s a great sense of fluidity and consistency across the whole site, something that’s desperately missing from Ferrari.
Although if I’m entirely honest, I’m not completely bowled over by the individual model’s pages.
For a start there’s the unnecessary pagination.
Then there’s the unimaginatively presented tech specifications.
Compared to the Ferrari site, this is pretty flat and in dire need of a little interactivity to lift it above the boring.
There is however an embedded series of videos for the Huracan model which, I assume because it asked to use my location, have been specifically made on a territory by territory basis.
It plays out like an episode of This Life, replete with foul language and slightly questionable ‘natural’ acting, but its a good attempt and creating content I wouldn’t have expected from the Italian sports car manufacturer.
When it comes to finding out further information on purchasing a Lamborghini, there’s no online form, but there is a dealer location finder. Although with what looks like only six dealers in the entire country it doesn’t exactly have its work cut out for it.
When you click on the emblem, an address is shown, with a clickable link to the dealer’s website. Unfortunately there’s no clear link to find directions either here or on the dealer site.
If you wish to contact Lamborghini directly, the link is hidden down here on the bottom of the screen, in grey.
Unlike the Ferrari experience, there is definitely a lack of concern about guiding potential customers easily to an offline sale. Let's see how they compare on mobile...
Forget everything I said about the homepage being able to adapt to smaller screens. It can’t. Its horrible on a mobile.
As is the Formula 1 section, which was already an information explosion on a desktop.
Happily the GT and Sports Car section that I raved about earlier looks fantastic in its adaptive form.
It has a brilliantly animated menu that I can’t show you here unfortunately but please give it a go yourself. Links to elsewhere around the site are also housed in a different easy to navigate menu.
It’s a pleasure to scroll through the models available.
Information is kept to a minimum. It assumes you’ll do your detailed research on the desktop site.
Most importantly of all is the giant Find a Dealer button.
With just one click of a button and an accepting of geolocation approval, I’m presented straight away with my nearest dealers.
Lamborghini has a consistent adaptive mobile experience, however it’s not necessarily better than Ferrari’s at its most well-designed.
The menu button is fiddily and prone to erroneous tapping. The search field is not only badly placed but pointless.
Once you’re on the Models page it’s not terribly clear that those model names are tappable links.
Individual model pages are fine. Although if anything they come across as even more drab on mobile. I’m buying a sports car for heaven’s sake!
Those two identical drop down menus are particularly unfortunate.
Technical specs are at least legible but again, dull.
Find a Dealer is the same as the desktop site, again with no easy link to getting directions, also that phone number isn’t click-to-call.
I feel very uninspired by this experience. Perhaps some retail therapy will do the trick...
Ferrari’s ecommerce store is a great looking site, with flat modern design and nice big product images.
It’s also fully responsive, so looks great on smaller browsers.
Product pages are minimalist with easy to navigate sizing and colour options. It’s a shame there’s no shipping information directly available on the page.
However the ever present reminder that free shipping is available on orders over £100 — a steep threshold on most other ecommerce sites - here means you’ll never really have to consider it.
Checkout is very straightforward, with large text boxes and only two pages to click through before purchase is made. I would say that the Express delivery option could be a little clearer.
Over at Lamborghini, when you click on the Store link, bear in mind it knows I’m in the UK, I’m automatically taken to the Italian version of the store.
Perhaps its for the authentic experience.
You’re not actually presented with language options, you have to find them yourself by clicking on the Shop Italy link at the top.
Once that’s over with, the store itself is nicely designed, and looks great on a mobile.
Product listings are nice and large, with only three images featured across the page.
Filtering options on the left hand side (size, availability, colour, price) are also a nice touch.
Once you’re past this, the experience is identical to the Ferrari one, clearly they’ve both been built using the same template.
I would have called this a tie, if it wasn’t for the initial language barrier.
Ferrari USA operates a Twitter account. There’s absolutely no engagement with its followers whatsoever, however if you want a non-stop parade of images of Ferraris then you’ve come to the right place.
Actually you’re probably better off following its Instagram for an even ‘purer’ experience.
If you want to talk to somebody about Ferrari though, it looks like it’s off to the dealership with you.
Over at Lamborghini, things are little more engaging in its Twitter feed.
Replies to followers’ questions appear regularly. Sure there’s nothing much more helpful than sending users off to their local dealers but at least they’re not being ignored, which is what I assume is happening with Ferrari.
Happily a quick look over at a local dealer’s Twitter account (Sevenoaks) reveals a good balance of posting images, chatting to customers and helping with their enquiries.
With the fact that I’m struggling to even find a Twitter account for any Ferrari dealer means this is finally a win for Lamborghini.
Oh and Lamborghini has an absolutely killer Instagram account with 250,000 more followers than Ferrari
Despite a late victory for Lamborghini, Ferrari definitely wins in terms of generating desire in its cars and driving footfall to its dealerships, even despite the fact that its web presence is riddled with inconsistency and bizarre UX ticks.
For more on the blog from the automotive industry, check out six examples of automotive social strategy and these nine examples of search tools from automotive websites.