Car dealers are preparing for a digital future and we’ll be there supporting with our digital offerings along the way

Time 11:43 am, July 25, 2020

I’ve published magazines for more than a decade. After starting Car Dealer in a quiet cul-de-sac, designed and published from home, 12 years on I never thought that one day we’d be approaching our 150th issue.

Neither would I have ever imagined that our 150th issue would be a digital magazine, published for screens and not on paper.

It’s been an interesting few months for the team at Car Dealer. Like the automotive industry, we’ve been through some radical changes which has seen our news proposition transformed.

The Car Dealer website was relaunched at the start of lockdown and a renewed focus on daily updates, informative features and help and advice for the motor trade saw our traffic rocket. 

In the last three months nearly four million people have visited this website, most of them on their mobile phones.

I’ve been fascinated by the data, running real-time analytics of the website to give me a minute-by-minute view of what people are reading, where they’ve arrived from and what devices they’re reading it on.

I’ve been surprised – but probably shouldn’t have been – that more than 90 per cent of those four million visitors have been on their mobile phones.

If my mobile usage during lockdown has been anything to go by then pretty much everything we do online is via a mobile. That’s why our mobile website is so important to us.

Now, this week, we’ve taken the next step towards our digital future with a refreshed Car Dealer Magazine design with mobile users at its core.

We publish the magazine on Issuu now – a clever app that displays the magazine digitally. But you can also read it simply by clicking on the image at the top of this page.

Our new-look digital Car Dealer Magazine has been designed with mobile users in mind

We’re still learning how it all works, but we’ve been able to link to videos that play in the app, and you can move around the magazine by clicking on links in stories, or directly from the contents page.

Our head of design Graeme Windell has also changed the layout so it’s easier to read on a mobile screen – we’ve changed the number of columns on a page to display the stories more like those you’ll see on a webpage.

Font sizes have been increased, colours changed and the design of all the pages refreshed. 

I’m delighted with the results. While the Car Dealer Magazine website continues to grow with hundreds of thousands of visitors every week, the importance of publishing a magazine for the motor trade is still core to our beliefs.

Column sizes on feature pages have changed to make them easier to read on screens

In the past, I loved holding the printed copies of the magazine in my hand, but this week – viewing the new edition on my iPad in the Issuu app I had the same feeling of excitement I got when I held issue one in my hand back in 2008.

I’ve been truly inspired by the Times + App and digital issues of the newspapers. If you haven’t tried it, I would urge you to take a look. It’s incredibly well thought out, super-intuitive and enjoyable to consume. 

And this comes from a journalist that started out life writing for local newspapers who would wait in the press halls a few hours after the ‘off stone’ time for the morning paper to get the first, still-damp issues off the presses.

[We’ll be producing more videos like this]

Don’t worry, we won’t be moving to a paid-for model or pay wall – but I will be looking at ways to continue to innovate with our digital Car Dealer Magazine issues.

Times are changing and publishing is too – but that’s not a bad thing. It simply presents a different way of doing things – there are new challenges and new opportunities too.

Stories can be told a different way, with video, graphics and more interactivity. Digital publishing is immediate, it’s measurable and it’s engaging.

Over the coming months we’ll be continuing to invest in our digital proposition. We’ve got digital awards ceremonies to look forward to, more video features and interviews and a few other interesting tricks up our sleeves.

For years, many have said the motor trade is too old-school to go digital – and in part I believed that.

But not any more.

As car dealers’ businesses change to more digitally focused operations, be that for their marketing or new and used car sales, we’ll be changing and innovating along with them. And, just like Car Dealer did back when we launched in 2008, we’ll continue to do things differently and aim to entertain and inform the motor trade.

James Baggott, Car Dealer founder

Please take a look at the digital issue at the top of this page and let me know your thoughts. We’re constantly learning and your feedback makes a huge difference. You can find me on Twitter, LinkedIn or message us via the website here – I read all the emails that come in.


James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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