Following on from a successful iPhone app, Auto Trader released a version for the iPad last week.
The launch is in response to growing levels of traffic on autotrader.co.uk from Apple's tablets. In the last six months, traffic from these devices has grown by 133%.
I've been checking the new iPad app out...
The search function is simple to use, and provides enough filters / categories to narrow the search to a manageable number of results:
The fact that the number of matching results available for each filter are shown makes the search form more usable, as it helps searchers to avoid returning no results at all, and also gives them an idea of how many more filters they need to use.
According to Auto Trader's Head of Mobile Nick Gee, the app was designed for a different type of use to its mobile apps:
We were looking for a touch screen friendly, image-led design that would create a better experience and suit the way that people use the device. People use the device in 'sit-back mode', so the result is a magazine-style experience, and an app that allows people to search easily and browse through images of cars.
The design of the search results reflects this approach. Users can view a large list of small images, or fewer results yet with larger photos. They can also be viewed in portrait or landscape mode, and can be scrolled through easily.
A 'browse bar' on the left hand side allows users to quickly adjust the parameters of the search without too much effort:
Users can click on a result to see more details about the car: images, mileage, dealer's contact details etc. The option to view images in full screen mode would have been a useful addition though.
By 'clicking' and holding on a result, users can add a car to their 'garage', which means they are saved for later viewing.
The ability to view cars in the garage and compare features side by side is a great feature too:
The Auto Trader iPad app offers an excellent user experience, and has been well designed for the sort of 'sit back' browsing that seems to be typical of tablet users.
It's also a great example of designing for the medium, rather than just tweaking the mobile app or producing a slimmed down version of the desktop site.