Mitsubishi build reliable well performing cars and SUVs, but in recent years have struggled to retain a healthy portion of the US auto market.
The goal was to educate potential car buyers on Mitsubishi’s product lineup and allow them to outfit a vehicle that was both practical and affordable.
Mitsubishi’s most popular vehicle of the past decade has without a doubt been their Lancer line. Offering a fantastic value for its price, it had carved out a niche among value minded buyers who enjoyed spirited driving.
The high performance Evolution (Evo) model of the line acted as a halo car of sorts, as it was often featured prominently in racing series and was a favorite among younger demographics.
However, as climate changed in the auto industry and many consumers began purchasing SUV/Crossover hybrids, Mitsubishi found itself without a horse in the race.
They introduced a new model to compete in this space, the Outlander, and wanted to have a revamped online presence to coincide with its introduction.
I conducted user interviews to get a handle on what some of the problems with the existing Mitsubishi site were. In addition to my own observations and competitive research, a few common friction points emerged.
The first problem most prospective car buyers encountered was that they simply didn’t know much about the product lineup or what type of vehicle suits them best.
Arrays of technical features and jargon further clouded their discovery and decision-making processes.
Even when users were able to identify a suitable vehicle for themselves, nebulous financial terms and details perpetuated the mistrust that users hold of auto manufacturers.
Beginning a relationship with straightforward presentation
As a first step towards users potentially choosing a Mitsubishi as their next vehicle, the vehicle detail pages were revamped to convey the context and strengths of each vehicle.
The auto industry tends to use complicated terminology “Double Wishbone Suspension” that confuses and alienates potential customers.
With Mitsubishi, we wanted to ensure that vehicle features were clearly highlighted and explained.
Building a practical vehicle in your budget
A staple of all car manufacturer websites is a build and price tool. By being able to appoint a vehicle with only the features they need, users are able to construct a clear idea of how purchasing or leasing will cost them on a monthly basis.
The build and price tool needed one thing: transparency. By pigeonholing key information about the cars, the current tool lacked any sense of honesty or completion.
The revamped build tool allowed users to filter the vehicle lineup by a variety of parameters. If they still had difficulty deciding on a model, colors, options, and other details, the site helped them pose questions to their friends via social media on what car or color to choose.
I added a receipt system to keep track of what features and options were being added to the car, and how much each item cost. Additionally, I added a progress tracker to indicate how far along in the building process a user was.
I studied the visual language of e-commerce checkout processes and decided that by adding a step-by-step tracker at the top, users would gain a sense of accomplishment for completing the build process. A continuously updating estimated monthly payment module was another feature that added a critical point of reference. Unless they were paying in cash, nearly all users wanted to know what a car will cost monthly.
Finally, I allowed users to click on any feature, option, or package throughout the process so they could easily discover why they might want or not want a particular option.
Many users have a basic knowledge cars and their underlying technologies. However testing showed that when presented with a list of options to choose from, users who knew less about cars gave up because they did not know what certain things were.
By including descriptions of all the technology on the car, more users could confidently continue on.
Welcoming owners into the fold
Another area of the Mitsubishi site that we wanted to improve was the owners section. While car companies insist on “welcoming you into the family” right as you’re about to sign on the dotted line, you rarely feel the love after you’ve been thrown the keys.
Whether you’re just trying to find out where your oil cap is, or where to go for your next service, it was clear that Mitsubishi needed to beef up their owners section.
In addition to vehicle specific information, the owners section was also intended to help facilitate conversations and meetings between owners.
Every year millions of people sign on to car forums, go to auto expos, and head to the track. Mitsubishi should be the collecting point for many of these people who share the same interests.
By leveraging vehicle and location specific information, the site populated a calendar of events to suit each owners needs, and remind them of when they are on their mobile phone.
We walked the same test participants as the beginning of the project through the new interface. The general sentiments that carried throughout the sessions were that subjects felt less overwhelmed by confusing terminology and better informed to identify a vehicle for their needs.