Auto Trader is one of the UK’s best-known car brands, with a legacy that goes back over 35 years. It’s involved with around 65% of UK used car sales, making the site the largest online marketplace for automobiles.
Although Auto Trader started off as a traditional car magazine, it has fully transformed itself as a fully e-commerce automobile website through the use of iterative prototyping and agile development.
In June 2017, Chief Trevor Mather laid out in the organisation’s yearly report of how digital activities would be a key part in developing the business.
“As part of the group’s digital culture, incorporating an agile and lean working ethos, we have continued to find ways of operating more efficiently while ensuring that teams are truly data-oriented,” said Mather in the report. “We therefore took the decision to assign every team their own dedicated data analyst, embedding data practices fully across the organisation.”
The main goal for the organisation is to be the UK’s leading website for the online automotive market, all while assisting the buyer in the car shopping process and promoting various vehicles for shoppers, retailers and producers.
“Offering useful services that help consumers to buy and sell easily, like the valuation tool, is essential to keep our marketplace relevant,” says Mather.
Currently the site offers two main services which are: classified adverts for customers who want to sell their vehicles, alongside that it offers a service for car retailers who are constantly on the lookout for vehicles.
AGILE AND SPEEDY PROTOTYPING
To make the processes and procedures for Auto Trader more intuitive and streamlined the company has moved from traditional web development to agile and speedy prototyping.
InVision, which provides a digital design platform that competes with Adobe, is being used to streamline prototyping, speed up the development of mobile sites and support collaboration across the firm’s London and Manchester sites.
Before Invision was introduced, the company used to go through long technical executions to achieve the results desired.
Talking to PC Weekly about how the corporate’s internet design course of has modified, Anthony Collins, head of UX&D, Auto Dealer UK, says: “Eight years in the past, digital was changing into extra necessary, print was changing into much less important. We would have liked to remodel to digital.”
The shift seen in print to digital meant that Auto Trader had to invest in an in-house design team who focuses on designing mobile apps and developing the website.
Colin oversees a team of fifteen designers who focus on either B2B or the customer-facing side.
“Retailers can manage stock,” he says. “We have the tech to help you build great ads, and metrics on how much audience interaction your adverts get. We are getting to a place where we have half a million cars on the site. We understand speed of sale, valuation and pricing cars correctly and can provide quite sophisticated metrics.”
THE DESIGN PROCESS
Making use of tools such at the Craft Prototype plug-in library within InVision gives designers the ability to make use of the Sketch design software to develop key parts of the user interface quickly and efficiently. This means Auto Trader can increase productivity in other areas of the business.
Collins explains: “There is talk in the design community that wireframes are dead. I think they still have their place. But we are moving into prototyping using Sketch and Craft. If we see a problem with the user, or the wording on the site is wrong, we can change the prototype within the same day, explore new things and find what fits with users faster than before.”
The Auto Trader website is tested in Manchester, where the company runs formal lab checks. “We don’t have to jot down laborious interplay spec docs for folks to know what’s improper,” says Collins. “As an alternative, we are able to rapidly construct a prototype and other people can then touch upon it.”
Auto trader additionally run “gorilla testing” with random people they meet in order to ensure certain parts or the website/app are working properly and that there are no bugs that need to be filtered out. “We ask 5 folks in a Starbucks what they think and feed this into our design,” says Collins.