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March 24th, 2010

Car Listing Sites Suck

All right. I’m calling them out: used (and new!) car listing sites suck, as a whole.

In order to become fully qualified suburbanites we’re shopping for a used minivan. Unlike web search (which has Google) and travel search (which has Kayak) there is no meta-search site for cars. To find the cars we were considering, I needed to use a number of sites: cars.com (arguably the largest,) AutoTrader, craigslist, and individual car dealer sites. Since the big names charge for listings, some dealers just roll their own.

The problem is that there’s no consistency between these sites, and the user experience sucks. Some sites use Flash interfaces, which is an automatic strikeout for me. Some allow you to sort by any criteria; others do not. Some list prices, some don’t. Some have lots of scam ads (craigslist.) Some allow you to do easy side-by-side comparisons.

While I essentially became comfortable with cars.com due to their sheer reach, I started to get a soft spot for – of all places – Overstock’s car search. Who knew? But the interface is fast and doesn’t get in my way, there are filters galore, and it’s less flashy flashy. Their “contact the dealer” form is also written in Mad Libs-style… a nice touch.

It seems to me that this is another area of the web where someone really needs to swoop in, develop an amazing user experience, and kick some ass. Until then I’ll deal with ALL CAPS CAR LISTINGS and Flash quirks. Blah.

Posted in Technology

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