Ford Quote – https://ford-quote.uk/
Contract hire lookup, company car tax calculation and vehicle comparison shortlist tools
As part of the development team at Carmen Data, I was involved in many aspects of the production of the Ford Quote website for ALD Automotive, trading as Ford Lease.
The original site was ported onto a newer bespoke CMS, that allowed us to create a fully responsive mobile first design, take advantage of newer browser features and make the most of the latest HTML and CSS spec.
As is often the case with mobile first design, I find the mobile sites are nicer to use as more thought has to go into making the most of the screen real estate. It seems that limiting the space that you can have in an interface forces you to only include elements that are really necessary, producing a cleaner, more useable site.
One of the great difficulties we faced during development, and which still remains as an on going problem is dealing with the vast number of prices available across the range of vehicles, and the level of detail with which the cars themselves can be customised.
As well as being a difficult interface to design, we are continuosly looking at ways to improve performance. We’ve looked for improvements across the stack including:
- optimising images at the front end
- using load balancer mysql servers
- database performance including query optimisation, hardware bottlenecks and offloading INSERT/UPDATE/DELETE operations away from the app server
- file system caching to improve response times
- meticulous application monitoring to optimise server side code
Whilst I’d always take part in the initial discussions of where to look and how to achieve performance improvements, I spent most of my time working specifically on the database and application code.
This is an area I thoroughly enjoy working in – analysing page loads, query times, hardware limitations. The satisfication in finding a low performing area, devising a plan to address it, iterating the solution and testing until the area becomes an example of how something should be done, is a highlight for me in this industry.
With both our Vehicle Options configurator and Price Finder we faced performance issues that have been overcome with collaborative efforts across the team.
While we still face ongoing challenges with increasing traffic and integrating new tools with the existing ones, the site continues to be very successful.
Each vehicle configuration and contract hire enquiry is recorded (with respect for GDPR) for Ford to view in a private statistics panel, so they can also see the success of the site.
Since it’s launch in 2017 the tools have been white labelled many times and given directly to Ford dealers all across the country.