Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pontiac's 'Awful' Year Gets Worse With Its Website Experience

I am almost done paying off my current car, and have been looking around for a new one. Today I saw a story on cnn.com where they mentioned that GM was offering 6-year, no-interest loans. GM is having an awful year, and they are doing whatever they can to sell their 2008 backlog of vehicles.

Included in these new incentives is the Pontiac Solstice. I have been curious about this car ever since I saw a story on the design of it. I'm now an ideal prospect for GM. I am on Google searching for info on the Solstice, and up pops Pontiac's website #1. Is that Pontiac's hard work or Google smart algo? I'll go with Google, especially after what unfolded.

I get to the Solstice sitelet and poke around for information. I really wish these car companies would cut it out with these over-produced Flash designs. They are not very usable and they all do it. All of them throw tons of money at these monstrosities. One of the largest components on the Solstice's home page is a "media controller," which is playing The Bravery way too loud for my early morning surfing. Where is the customer data that pushed that design element to the forefront? So I move past all of the hurdles in my way of learning about this vehicle, and find out they have 2 styles. I click on the most expensive style to customize what I'd like on it (which now makes me Pontiac's best case scenario, I think). Up pops up an error message, "Server Error, The page you requested produced an error. Please try again later." Will I ever really "try again" on this website? Not a chance.

So where is this data, that Pontiac served up an error and lost an ideal lead? Do they have something tracking this, or did that budget get eaten up by the Media Controller that forced me to scramble for the mute button?

The car business is a very mature business domain, which once again provides an example of why they don't innovate where they need to. They are stuck in a defensive mode of just doing what everyone else is doing. Sure, MySpace has media controllers, but has GM heard of Facebook?

Learn more about GM and their awful year (no mention of loss of online prospects).


Anonymous said...

Dead right about the awful site. I have never seen such a pretty looking web site that was so bad from a user interface point of view. It was just plain hard to use and everything I did on it ran so sloooooow I have to imagine their scripts are poorly written.

2009 G6 is available at all of our local dealers. However, on their web site it was like the model didn't exist. No matter what I did I couldn't get any info on it: prices, specs, "build your own", etc. I know they want to sell out 2008 inventory but can't I even learn about the 2009 models that are already available for sale?

Michael Grossman said...

It's interesting that you point to the "poorly written scripts" as something that might be a logical explanation. I'm sure the average user doesn't have a clue what "script" is. I wonder what they are imagining it is. Their computer? Internet connection?

You would think a company that well known would have a very defined set of usability goals to meet. Seems like a marketing project where animation and pantone colors were their main goals instead of getting users to content.

Thanks anonymous!