Analysing the Volkswagen UK Car Configurator app

Continuing the research into my FMP, I am now turning my attention to apps for car configurators. I was surprised to see no apps for Android devices, with it being an exclusively Apple dominated sector. As I don’t have an iPhone or an iPad, I will be looking at the screenshots, gathering how things work, which will be a tough test on how user friendly these apps appear on a first glance.

The Volkswagen UK Car Configurator app can be checked out in iTunes Preview here.

App Icon: This is an app icon that really relays to the audience it is about configuring a car. The icons have connotations to the audience of being a paint bucket, wheel and roll of  fabric that leads to further connotations of it being about customising a car. Of course this needs to be complemented with the addition of a VW logo so the audience know it is to do with VW. From there they will know it is definitely to do with cars, and not trucks or bikes for example. Aesthetically, the design fits the style of the app as well as the colour scheme.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 18.07.25

iPhone version:

The home screen as I will call it, is very minimal, with no excessive clutter, and is well laid out, with well placed options designed to reduce the time the audience takes to get to where they want to go. The blue, white and grey colour scheme is consistent with the VW logo, and therefore provides a uniform aesthetic, which helps to give the app some credibility. 

The full range does precisely what it says, with a scrollable list of all the different vehicles. Looking at the iPad app, which I’ve talked about further down the page, there is a way of narrowing down the list, based on different factors to help you find your perfect VW. The little icons are crucial to this page being a success, as they only have a very small space to convey their purpose. In my opinion, these are done well, and do make sense.Again, the summary page lays everything out in a clear, concise format, with navigation both at the top and bottom of the screen allowing for the selection of different options.The app also works with the rotation feature in the phone so it can be viewed in landscape as well as portrait, and this allows images of the exterior and interior to be shown at the maximum size possible, increasing the usefulness of the app.There’s also a reasonably comprehensive gallery of images to allow the audience to get a greater understanding of what the car looks like, as well as some of the features in action.

iPad version: This is pretty similar to the iPhone app as you’d expect, which is a good thing, the only real differences here are down to maximising the extra space available. The home screen now features an image of each car in the range that can be swiped through from left to right.Far more detail has been added to this section of the app, where it is now possible instead of just viewing them in a list, to be able to use a sliding scale for different factors to rule out vehicles, to allow the audience to find themselves the perfect VW for them. The little icons are replaced by their name because of the extra space. All the functions remain the same.I am a real fan of the way the information is laid out below to compare the engines, as it blends clear symbols together with the information, which itself has a hierarchy, created through size and colour. A visual hierarchy makes the app so much easier to navigate and work through, because everything is ordered logically and can be taken one step at a time.On the iPad version, you get the same animation as on their website, which is when you select the paint colour, you see two robots ‘spray’ it onto the car, as it would be done in the factory. I think that’s a great little design touch that adds a certain novelty.

Conclusion:

  • As you would expect from a company whose name translates to ‘people’s car’, the VW app is easily laid out, and is accessible to the vast majority of people.
  • I am impressed with this design, I am surprised at the lack of car configurator apps out there, and I think that the VW system is the best I have seen.
  • I will return to this format when it comes to me ‘wireframing’ my app ideas, as this app has got the basic format refined rather well.
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