Car manufacturer websites, particularly luxury cars, used to be a bit of a bugbear of mine.
The industry was to me a perfect case of how copycat web builds that ignore best practice result in a frustrating mix of dark, flash-ridden websites with a lack of content.
Land Rover bucks the trend. Here are four reasons why.
1. Land Rover Live for publishing
Land Rover Live is a UK microsite used as a publishing platform for the brand to discuss design, technology, adventure and to feature the many sporting events Land Rover sponsors.
It’s a nicely responsive site (the imagery makes full use of my 1680 x 1050 resolution monitor) with an image-rich scrolling experience in each category.
The articles themselves often feature video content and the simple text is reminiscent of Medium, clean and clear and easy to share.
The breadth of the content categories allows Land Rover to appeal to those into towing stuff and those who just want to be seen.
Where Land Rover Live really comes alive is via the brand’s UK social media. On its UK Twitter account the Live content is shared using Twitter cards. Engagement is fairly high for a brand with under 150,000 followers.
As expected, Facebook shows higher engagement still, and Land Rover uses the Live content to start conversations with fans.
Importantly, the Live content focuses on performance, aimed at showcasing the design and technology of the cars without moving in to the slightly smug territory of some other luxury car makers (which wouldn’t align with the utility of the Land Rover brand).
Content covers history (30 defining moments in Land Rover history) and trivia, too (Range Rover: 45 things you never knew).
As you can tell from the enumerations in the article titles, Land Rover knows what attracts readers. The brand is also not above selling a test drive or two (8 reasons to try the new 2016 Range Rover Evoque).
After all, this is content for loyal customers or potential new ones.
A Twitter card used by Land Rover UK Twitter to promote Land Rover Live content.
Land Rover Live content shared on Facebook and generating customer comments.
The beautifully illustrated Land Rover Live is fully responsive.
A scrolling experience fits mobile.
Sparse article formatting is clean and easy to read.
2. LandRover.com for a silver screen aesthetic
I can’t do justice to the sweeping GIFs and photographs on LandRover.co.uk. Please do go and experience the website. It’s a joy to scroll around, laterally and vertically.
An abundance of content on each Land Rover model is present but it’s the photography that so stands out. Again, it completely fills my giant monitor and is cropped appropriately when I rescale down.
To show just how far this trumps many luxury automotive websites, just navigate to Audi (itself not a terrible website).
On the Audi website, there is also a GIF on the homepage and it’s not bad, just not quite as panoramic or beautiful as the Land Rover examples.
The Land Rover GIFs are generally three or four more-or-less fixed and wide-angle camera shots in succession, creating a movie aesthetic as we follow the car.
The Audi GIF however is much closer in with more changing angles and zooms on the car’s features. The Audi approach can be a little nauseating when trying to navigate the website as it plays constantly, whereas the Land Rover full site carousel contains three GIFs out of five.
Nitpicking aside, where you really notice the difference is on the range and model pages. On Audi.co.uk, one could conceivably be buying a toy car, there’s no context to the model images, nothing to aspire to.
What Land Rover achieves is something akin to watching a show reel. I’m not a motor buff, but this crisp, responsive imagery did make me want one.
Audi product page
Range Rover product page
3. Video everywhere
Video is now massive on Facebook, with the platform passing 4bn video views and 75% of all online video views now occurring away from YouTube.
For a few years now, brands have talked about the importance of video but it was only across 2014 that mobile video truly became mainstream.
Land Rover has a big budget for above-the-line media and it is now incoporating more of that silky branded video across multiple platforms.
The forthcoming Range Rover Evoque Convertible uses a landing page with this kind of video (the car tested inside the Crossrail tunnels) and some atmospheric stills alongside the call to action to ‘keep me informed’.
The Land Rover Live platform and the brand’s social media accounts use a range of video, from campaign ads to event highlights to showreels.
— Land Rover UK (@LandRover_UK) October 1, 2015
4. Luxury does not mean rarity (when it comes to content)
The most refreshing element of the Land Rover website is the volume of content on it. Look at the screenshot below and you’ll see the extent of the navigation within ranges and models.
This doubling up of header menus allows users to explore ranges and models without getting lost in a rabbit hole. The panoramic photography is enabled by the nav-heavy design and scrolling and ‘swiping’ functionality.
This leaves room for one main call to action on each slide so the website feels decluttered.
Scrolling down to the more detailed content on specification and design, imagery is still well presented alongside text introduced in a large, clean font for clarity of message.
As users look more to the influence of social media and demand immersive but functional experiences online, Land Rover has taken a great step forward. The challenge is for other car manufacturers, whatever their vehicle price points, to follow.
Double header menu to orient users and allow for large imagery.
The specification and design detail uses large text for clarity and scrolling/swiping to present new messaging.