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Where Can I Buy A Car Online?The Ratings

Overall ratings are determined by looking at a number of criteria for each site. Most important to us at Where Can I Buy A Car Online is content. A well-presented, well-organized website is virtually worthless if it has no useful content. Conversely a messy, amateurish website with great content can rate highly in our books. Ideally we think websites should score highly in both content and presentation but that is rarely the case.

Here are the questions we ask ourselves when rating a website.

Content
  • Is the material interesting, accurate, appropriate (audience targeted)?
  • Are alternative languages available?
  • Is the content consistent - does tone, style and voice remain the same throughout the site?
  • Is there a lot of 'meat' or is the site mostly 'air'?
  • Is unique or hard-to-find information readily available on this site (compared to other sites)?
  • Are there areas that other websites simply don't have (has someone thought 'outside the box')?
  • Is there the right combination of depth and breadth of information?
Navigation
  • Is the site easy to get around?
  • Are links obvious?
  • Can I get from point D to point H easily or must I backtrack to point A and then to H?
  • Do I always know where I am on the site?
Organization
  • Is the material logically organized?
  • Is the structure intuitive, reasonable and well thought out?
  • Have the site designers thought of most things/everything/nothing?
  • Is it clear how to get to where you want to go?
  • Are there broken links or graphics?
  • Are pages too long, too short or just right?
Writing
  • Is the writing clear and easy to understand?
  • Is there a glossary and/or links to explain jargon?
  • Are there grammatical, typographical and spelling errors?
  • Is the tone appropriate or is it condescending or too chummy?
  • Is the writing appropriate to the readership - not too intellectual and not too simple?
Presentation
  • Does the site confuse the viewer with too much colour, flash, options and frames?
  • Are link colours and fonts effective, easy to understand and appropriate?
  • Is the design pleasing without being obtrusive?
  • Does the site have lots of animation or other gee-gaws that contribute nothing to the site?
  • Are pages well arranged with a good balance of text and graphics?
Integrity
  • Does the site content reflect an unbiased view?
  • Is competitors' information presented accurately?
  • Is pricing upfront and realistic (that is does a car under $15,000 include wheels)?
  • Is there an area for customer feedback and a response guarantee?
  • If a service is provided is there a turnaround time guarantee?
  • Is there a disclaimer covering possible changes in prices or errors in information?
Timeliness
  • Is the site updated regularly?
  • Is there a news section with recent press releases?
  • Does the site address areas of current concern (example - link to Firestone regarding tire recalls)?
  • Is the site keeping abreast of technology and industry-wide developments?
Originality
  • Is the site fun? interesting? informative?
  • Does it have some neat features that put it ahead of other sites?
  • Does it have tools that are absent from other sites or that are better designed and developed than on other sites?
Privacy and Security
  • How anonymous can you remain while using the site?
  • Does the site ask irrelevant questions (marital status for example)?
  • Does the site use cookies?
  • Is there a privacy statement?
  • Is an opt-out available so you don't receive unwanted advertising/promotional material?
  • Is there a secure page for entering personal information?

EQuality ratings look at the site's performance in terms of buying a product online. Obviously for many sites an EQuality rating doesn't apply - that is why the Privacy and Security ratings are in both areas. If you are going to enter personal information on a site where you aren't actually buying anything then we will include the privacy and security rating in the overall rating.

Some of the questions we ask when assessing a site's EQuality are:

EPrivacy
  • Does the site have a privacy statement?
  • How much personal information do you have to supply?
  • Can you choose the communication method you prefer (e-mail, phone)?
  • Is your chosen method of communication respected?
  • Do you receive unsolicited e-mail or phone calls from the company or its associates?
  • Is there an opt-out available to remove you from and advertising or promotional lists?
ETransaction
  • How much of any purchase (car, insurance, accessories) can be done online?
  • Is there a turnaround time guarantee?
  • Are you shown pricing upfront?
ESecurity
  • Is the site using some reputable and recognized security methods (i.e. Verisign)?
  • Does the company have a BBBOnline Profile (or similar)?
  • Are there customer testimonials?
  • Is SSL encryption in use and are all financial transactions taking place on secure pages?
ECurrency
  • Are figures shown in the appropriate currency (US dollars, GB pounds)?
  • Do totals change appropriately depending on your location (for example emissions packages vary by state)?
EPayments
  • Are there several options for paying for items - credit cards, lease, finance etc.?
  • Are payment options explained - for example financing versus leasing a car?
  • Are there payment calculators on the site?
 
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