Solving the car buying problem

We were asked to design an Engagement Model Site as a proof of concept for DealerFox. They wanted a site that would display one model of car to help increase sales. Through research, we found that this ask was a lot more nuanced and complicated than we first thought.

The Problem

There is one thing most people can agree with, the car buying process sucks. Pushy salespeople, technical jargon, and information overload are just a few issues car buyers contend with. Those issues are compounded when the average user isn't informed enough to cut through the nonsense to find the car that fits their needs.

What I did

User Interviews

Interview Script/Test Plan Writing



Project Timeline

May/June 2017

3 Weeks


For the first couple of days, I became a prospective car buyer. I read up on what tools to use, researched dealers and car companies. What I discovered was a landscape that left me more confused than when I started.

From the start I was being sold to, bombarded with language and terms I didn't understand. It was overwhelming, the sheer number of cars and options I was shown was crazy.

After discussing my findings with the team, we had to find out what real car buyers are doing and if they had a similar experience to mine.


We talked to a range of people from the inexperienced buyer to car enthusiasts and a car industry veteran of over 30 years.

The first thing we learned was it didn't matter if you were a novice or an expert; buyers hated being sold to.

“Stop trying to sell me and try to figure out what I really need.” – Mike

Buyers wanted sites and salespeople to stop pushing them into a car they didn't want and help them find one that fits their needs.


Lack of knowledge was another significant insight we discovered. A majority of our interviewees felt they didn't have enough information when going to a dealership. For them finding useful information was difficult, having to sift through a maze of technical jargon.

“I want to walk into the dealership with the most knowledge and ammunition.” – Sheennan

Buyers want to be more informed, but the current state left a lot to be desired. In our interviews, buyers stated they would get help from family or friends when looking to buy a car.


Through extensive research and iteration we landed upon the following principles that guided us through the design process.

Personalization. Control. Confidence.

With principles to guide us, we started building out rough ideas for how we would accomplish our goal of making the car buying process enjoyable.

From my research and the interviews, we learned that users were being rushed through the process and weren't being asked what they wanted. To slow the process down and let users breathe I created a short questionnaire. It asked the user why they were looking for a car and then only showed cars that fit their needs.

9. Search Nissan Displayed

The questionnaire was a success with users. It gave them a feeling of control over the car buying process where standard filters did not. Users were appreciative that they were being asked what they wanted instead of being told what to buy.

“It made it easy and hassle-free. I like the fact that I was in control of it and it moved at my pace and lead me somewhere.” Sheennan

By giving control back to the buyer, they, in turn, felt more confident with the process as a whole. The buyer was now in charge and the idea of going to a dealership was much less stressful.

“The biggest thing was I felt confident about what I needed to do. I always had my family help me when I didn’t know stuff, but this made me feel confident to do it myself” Ryan.

Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 4.17.00 PM


The more projects I do I realize just how necessary user research is to any product one might build. The client came to us with a very specific ask, down to the total amount of screens they wanted. Without research, we would have just made what they asked and been done with it. But we took what the client wanted and tempered it with user research and came out with a better solution that people wanted to use.