Every interaction with a brand can tell a user a lot about the quality, attention to detail, and overall experience they will have with their products. McLaren make incredible supercars, but their website is anything but super.
Have you ever been on a website of a large, well-known brand and been frustrated at just how hard it is to do what you want to do? Finding a particular product, some information or simply trying to give the brand your money with a poor checkout process?
With large brands, we automatically tend to believe that they must have all their stuff together, because they're a big brand right? But more often than not, that's not the case.
When a brand becomes recognizable for its product or services, some strategies become less of a focus - On-Page SEO, for example, isn't quite as important as the brand's website naturally gains backlinks, press coverage, and they're likely putting money into ads and outreach.
But the same shouldn't be said for the User Experience of a brand's website. Sure, if a brand is that well-known, users will buy their products regardless of how bad their website is, but should that really be the case?
At Always Fresh, we believe every interaction with a brand paints an overall picture of what that brand is like.
Web design and user experience is hard, but its fundamentally important. A brand's website is their online shop window, and their presence online can shape how their users feel about the brand.
Imagine being excited by an ad campaign the brand has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on, only to get to their website to find it frustrating to use. That's going to give the user a sense of disappointment, not to mention a waste of ad spend.
McLaren has a lot of motorsport heritage dating back over 60 years. In the early 2000s, they transformed their brand from motorsport-only to producing their own road vehicles.
Since their transition, they've seen enormous success and have grown their product range to an impressive four product lines and upwards of 10 individual vehicles. Impressive when the likes of Lamborghini tends to have no more than five vehicles in their line up.
With an impressive product, a price point of $200,000+ and a brand that's build on speed and performance, their website unfortunately does not reflect the 60 years of effort McLaren has gone through to get to where they are today.
When users land on a website, the first few seconds are vital to leaving an impression and painting a picture of what this brand is like. Before they've even scrolled, users have already clocked whether they are ultimately going to buy or not.
This may be subconscious, but with a brand like McLaren, you expect to be 'wowed' as soon as you land.
Unfortunately, with the home page being the 'shop window' of any website that sign posts users to where they want to go, the experience with McLaren is a little...flat.
It's simple- with any landing page, you want your most important information at the top, which then takes the user on a journey the further they go.
With McLaren they have:
The product carousel placement is great, but forcing the user to interact in an irregular way is never good for user experience. It's confusing, frustrating, and it doesn't add anything to the whole experience.
Having the News on the home page can be useful, but unless your site is known for content, having it placed as the third most important section is not a great idea.
Have you ever been on YouTube looking for a recipe and then the next thing you know you're down a rabbit hole of cat videos? The same thing can happen to users by introducing them to content like this too early on.
The ultimate goal of the website is to educate users into eventually making a purchase, but by leading with News, users can get lost in content that they forget the reason why they came in the first place.
It's safe to say McLaren is a premium brand. Its products are vehicles people want not need, and their price point puts them out of reach for a large majority of people.
McLaren has a clear heritage and with their name being used in Formula 1, they are well-known to the audience they are looking to target.
With all that said, their website isn't quite matching what the brand wants to portray.
Sure, the overall McLaren design language is very strong, but we found oversized fonts, bland layout, and quite dull pages that didn't reflect what we would expect from such a brand.
As a result, the perception of the brand and its products isn't as good as it could be. Something's missing. It doesn't feel quite as good as it should.
These small but powerful subliminal messages are all a user needs to feel to know something isn't quite right, especially if they are jumping between competitors and getting a better experience elsewhere.
At Always Fresh, our Design Studies are an opportunity for our Design Team to stretch their legs and run with an idea without any limitations of a brief.
Once a problem has been identified, we let our designers run with it in any direction they see fit with total control over the creative.
These designs are never meant to be developed, but instead allow us to show you what we're capable of when given free reign over a design.
First things first - We have no issue with McLaren's branding. There is no sense including a rebrand when the brand is already so well recognized.
With that, we're keeping all colors, logos, and imagery styles, but we did change the font to something a little less stylized just to help with legibility.
The goal was to improve the User Experience of the website, not to create a completely new solution.
While we want users to go on a journey that we map our strategically, we don't want to add any barriers for returning users.
For those who already own a McLaren, we don't want to make them 'second best' and have to work hard to find the information they need. Remember McLarens need servicing too and those owning a McLaren likely have less time to be calling around garages for a quote.
Therefore, we strategically placed common call to actions for both new and existing customers to get where they want to go.
We made the product carousel far easier to navigate, allowing users to jump between each product series without having to scroll through every single model.
We also changes the way the navigation works - While having a dropdown for each series is a great idea, it can limit the website in the long run.
If McLaren brings out more series of products, this may require the navigation to be redesigned in order to accommodate this new product line.
Not to mention, for everything else, the user has to look elsewhere, meaning the navigation of the site is effectively split across two menus.
Instead, we've placed all menu items into a single menu that takes users on a journey to find their preferred model.
By walking users through a process of choosing a main option, secondary option, and then taking them to their desired page, it does require more clicks but means the user gets exactly where they want to go faster.
There's an infinite way to solve user experience problems, and the trick is to find the best possible solution for a client's needs.
Web Design, or UI/UX Design, is an incredibly important stage of any website build as this lays the foundation for the user experience.
If all challenges can be overcome during the design stage, the longevity of the website can be increased immensely, resulting in less tweaks and changes as problems are found later on.
What McLaren can learn from this experience is that in the same way they invest time into the design and engineering of their cars long before production, the same can be applied to their website.
So whether your brand is big or boutique, and whether you specialist in supercars or ice cream scoops, the same strategies can be applied, and the end result can have a huge impact.
Disclaimer: The McLaren logo and all associated images and assets remain the property of McLaren. The visuals created are for the purpose of a design study only and no copyright infringement is intended.