With a part of my brief for my FMP stating I will create a app design for the Land Rover car configurator, I have chosen to look at the current system for configuring a Range Rover, and the new system for configuring the Range Rover Sport.
1. Choosing the model: Very simple, functional, with the price, but no facts on what the trim level contains, which begs the question as to how are the audience meant to know what model they want to select? So this is something I will need to look into. Not a very stylish interface either. 2. Choosing the engine: A very bland pop-up panel with three choices appears. Again, no facts on the engine, so how is the audience meant to know what they want? Again, there is a lack of style, it certainly does not feel like you are configuring a premium vehicle.
The image below contains the main interface for the configurator. This is pretty clear to work through, with everything being clearly labelled and positioned. There’s no need for me to describe what does what, as it’s all really intuitive, a definite strong point. I’ll need to spend some time working out how this approach will work on say, a smartphone though.
3. Exterior Options: As I’ve mentioned above, the user interface is pretty good here. A further plus point is that the Range Rover can be clicked and dragged on to show different viewpoints, which allows different angles to be shown. My only concern is the realism of the colours on the car, I’ve seen many of these colours in real life and they do not quite tally with what you see on screen.
The other thing that is highly frustrating is selecting the option you want, in the case below, a wheel design. Hovering over it pops out a small info panel. But it’s so frustrating because moving the slightest bit off course can hide the panel again, and due to close proximity of the different options, it can bring up the panel of the next option, and trying to switch back is rather jerky. This would be much better if you could swipe through the options, and press to select, but press and hold to bring up an information box.
The info box you do get if you press ‘Find Out More’ from the hidden panel for the option is pretty disappointing, as it doesn’t tell you anything new, other than a slightly larger swatch. Entering full screen allows for a larger image to be displayed, which is a good move, as it takes away distractions as well. This works well, with it being possible to still rotate the car. 4. Interior Options: The same points I raised above are valid here. However, there is an additional frustration added to the mix unfortunately. The top-left panel holding the total price, model, and engine selected blocks a significant part of the interior, and less annoying, but still a nuisance is the info bar on the top-right. This is very disappointing as you need to keep entering Full Screen mode to get rid of the boxes. 5. Optional Extras: They are laid out in categories, which is very useful to have as otherwise it would just be a big list of options. To access the lists, you need to click on the + icons. The only thing I found here that would have been nice for the interface was to have the + icons on the left, rather than the right. This is because unless you like scrolling, and I don’t, I minimised the list once I had finished with it, and it would have been quicker on the same side. On an touchscreen this probably wouldn’t be an issue though.
It would also be good to have images of the options, as this is a suitable way of increasing the information available to the audience, especially if the option name isn’t immediately clear as to what it is, or you want to see how it would look on/in the vehicle.
If there is a conflict between the options, then this information box pops up, informing you that a change needs to be made. You either have the option to confirm your selection, or cancel the last option selected. 6. Summary: This is again functional, but perhaps not the most stylish interface I’ve ever come across. From here we have options to further the process, such as printing or e-mailing the build spec. I’m going to try the print-out option and discuss it next. 7. The print-out: For this specification, there is a three page print out, available as a PDF, which handily can be saved on your computer without needing to print if you don’t wish to. This is something that may never be found by the audience, if they don’t want to print it, they will probably never click the ‘Print’ button.
While the PDF details everything, putting it as just one long list is functional, but not overly easy to read through. I believe it would be better to arrange it in an different format to read and include images of the options, as I have seen done in other configurators.
Range Rover Sport: This uses the new form of car configurator that I have noticed Jaguar is also using for the new F-Type sports car. (Jaguar and Land Rover are both owned by Tata, and therefore share many things, from the technology used in the touchscreen control systems in the car to the configurators and so on…)
1. Choosing the model: Reasonably easy to follow, although first time viewers unaware of the car may only see two trim levels instead of scrolling down to find more. Personally I feel there should be no scrolling necessary for a web design, although would be necessary for a app design. However, you need to inform the audience there is something off-screen.
2. Choosing the engine: Two options to choose from, both with key facts the audience would want to know before they move on. Not very stylish, but functional, and an improvement over the Range Rover configurator where no information was given about the engines available to the audience.
The image below contains the main interface for the configurator. This is pretty clear to work through, with everything being clearly labelled and positioned. There’s no need for me to describe what does what, as it’s all really intuitive, so this is a strong point.
3. Exterior options: This is in my opinion, not the best development. For the specific options, such as exterior colour, you have to click on it. This brings up a panel where the options can be chosen. To get rid off it, you close the box in the top right, and it brings you back to this screen, but I find this overly time consuming. Something that is rather interesting is the audience gets two methods of selecting colours. The first is to use the arrows and click through the colours, each one being shown on the vehicle, with the second being a more usual list. Both methods work reasonably well, and are functional, but I find the whole process to be a little slow. I’ll need to spend some time working out how this approach will work on say, a smartphone. I don’t like the way though you need to exit the Configure mode to see the vehicle from different angles though, and again, is another feature that slows down the process considerably. I don’t think the audience will tolerate being patient for long, in this era, they are used to things just working and being intuitive.4. Interior Options: The same points I raised above are valid here, and there is not anything much to add really. Using the extra width of the screen is a great feature though, showing larger images is something the audience will really appreciate.
One thing I do like about the new configuration layout is the little icons next to the options. These help to inform the audience as to whether options will look good together or not, and with the exterior body colour as well.
The only issue (not a system one) is that the system is designed only to allow certain combinations (based on what the designers call ‘good taste’ I presume…) so the audience may find certain specifications are not compatible, which causes annoyance. I know this, because I was chatting to an audience member, and they mentioned this, and were not impressed with the ‘forced guidance’ from Land Rover. This has taught me the audience are not against being guided, but want for the ultimate decision to be theirs. 5. Optional Extras: This is the strongest element of this configurator design, with every option assigned a large box to take an image as well as the name, so that fixes one of the main issues I had with the old system. It is easy to add and remove options and seems ready to be used for touch devices as well. The only thing that could be improved is to allow for swiping on a trackpad when viewing online, rather than the clumsy little buttons for left and right. Clicking on the little information icon in the top right corner of the box gives more information (useful info as well. This is another good step forward. Again, as I mentioned with the Range Rover configurator, if there are two or more options that cannot be selected together, the system alerts you, and gives you two options. It also lets you know the price difference if there is one. Another good improvement. 6. Summary: This starts with the opportunity to look at the multiple images of the car you have specified, which is another improvement over the old system where you could only look at one image for the exterior. The next section looks to be laid out in a slightly clumsy manner, but apart from that it seems to be thoroughly functional. After that it features all the options laid out in their various categories. I would say this is a big improvement over the old system.
7. The print-out: For this specification, there is a five page print out, available as a PDF, which handily can be saved on your computer without needing to print if you don’t wish to. Again, as with the old system, it does not indicate this on the website.
I think the grid based system works much better, and the inclusion of images really helps to break up the block of text the old system generated. It is a definite improvement.
However, only showing one angle of the side of the car in the PDF file is a bit odd. I think the audience would at least want to see a front-side and a rear-side view as well as an interior view as the bare minimum.Conclusion:
- Overall, I think that the Range Rover Sport configurator is a significant improvement over the Range Rover one, meaning Land Rover is making progress, although I think there are improvements there, and there is the challenge of fitting it to a different format for an app as well for me to consider.
- I do not think these designs would be suitable on a smartphone app due to the format, which is not an issue as such as they were not designed specifically for such a purpose, so I’m interested to see what I can create.
- I’m going to look around and see if there are any apps manufacturers have made for their configurator, and add this into my research to give me a better understanding, which will benefit my designs. I want to assess what other design noise is out there, so I have a standard to aim for and better.