Dealers have been sending in their Ewards 09 entries in their droves as they vie to catch the attention of our judges.
We’re looking for the best websites in five categories this year – Franchised, Independent, Car Supermarket, Car Manufacturer and a special Web Innovation Eward.
Just one of the many entries we received last month was from the Freeborn Group, pictured right, in the Franchised category.
The smart-looking website is produced by 21st Century Internet and IT accountant Dan Miller hails it as ‘fresh and exciting’ in his submission.
‘Our website provides an intuitive and useful portal to all our customers’ vehicle needs be it a new car purchase, a van for the business, booking a routine service or even a Romahome purchase to explore our great country,’ said Miller.
We put his entry in front of some of this year’s Ewards 09 judges to see what they thought of the site. Clive Jackson, founder of Ewards 09 headline sponsor Autotorq.com, was impressed.
‘There are some useful tools and features on this website for the customer like information on MPG and road tax and I found it quick and easy to find a deal on a used car and to work out my monthly payments,’ said our expert.
‘It was easy for me to find contact details and locations. It gets the basics right – never underestimate the importance of that – and has some nice features for the car buyer too.’
Codeweavers managing director James Tew said the Freeborn site – which has showrooms in Southampton, Guildford, Winchester and Wokingham – focussed on important aspects of its business.
‘When looking for any product we always seem to set our hearts on the model or version that is over our budget,’ said Tew. ‘The “desire to buy” is transparent, however as consumers we need the “excuse to buy”. This is either for own self-justification or indeed something to convince our partner that the deal makes sense.
‘To achieve this on a website is more difficult, but I’m a big believer in providing the user with information and tools to give them this excuse to buy.
‘The Citroen brand is renowned for its efficient vehicles and, using fuel savings, Freeborn Group have focussed on this feature. By looking at the customer’s total monthly outlay rather than just the vehicle cost, will ensure the user will rethink their own strategy and focus more on affordability. The more affordable any product is the more it will sell.
‘The Vehicle Registration Mark (VRM) look-up feature and then obtaining fuel consumption for the user’s current vehicle is a smart tool that integrates the result within the vehicle search once they have entered their annual mileage.’
So that’s our man Tew impressed then. Fellow Eward judge Daniel Burgess, HPI’s automotive director, liked the site’s clean look.
‘The colours are visually appealing and the layout is clear so you can see where to start looking easily for more information. It’s simple but very effective in layout, navigation and design.
‘The links and navigation from the homepage really promote other key services such as aftersales and web offers, to get the best cross-selling opportunities out of the website.’
Judge Richard Lawton, marketing manager for Really Good Domains, also agreed with Burgess on the clean look: ‘The website is a good example of a clear and unfussy design, where care has been taken in providing the visitor with access to all sections of the website quickly and easily – either through the top navigation bar or through the large central homepage panel.
‘The designers have obviously taken on board the fact that the majority of visitors to websites want whatever they’re looking for quickly and simply, whether it’s contact information, department information or specific car information.
‘Another area which caught our eye is the “alternatives” section after a search has been performed, which lists additional cars available from another area of the business – a used car search also includes a few additional new car alternatives which fit the general criteria searched for.’
So the Freeborn Group website seems to have struck the right chord with our judges. It will now go forward to the shortlist phase in time for judging in October.
HOW TO ENTER
Submitting your website couldn’t be easier. Send an email to [email protected] and in the subject box type the Eward category name you’re entering. So, if you’re a franchised dealer, write ‘franchised’. In the email, include the following details:
1 Your name and position
2 Company name
3 Website address
4 Name of the agency who designed the website, or if in-house, state this
5 Finally, 50 words saying what makes your site an Eward winner
If you entered last year, that doesn’t mean you can’t enter these Ewards, but you will need to send us details again.