Car Throttle is one of the largest automotive community platforms on the internet, with almost 6 million users per month. We were building a next-generation media platform with the backing of the minds and investors behind Facebook, Skype and AOL.
After starting life as a car blog in 2009, we quickly evolved into a popular site covering car news, reviews, humour and video content. Extremely active on social media, we had popular pages on Facebook (3 million+ fans), a thriving YouTube channel (1 million+ subs) and a growing fanbase.
The Car Throttle website was built on Wordpress when I joined them at the beginning. To be able to scale and create the features and community we wanted, we needed to create our own custom platform using modern technologies (Node.js, elastic search etc).
Our audience were primarily 18-34 males and 70% traffic was mobile. We responded to this by building a mobile-first, fully responsive website and a lot of our strategy was mobile focussed (advertising, tech, features).
Over three years, the Car Throttle platform evolved and improved dramatically, eventually becoming the community it is today. Below you can see the journey...
My first project was to take the existing Wordpress website and make it responsive to capitalize on the huge mobile traffic coming to the site.
The next version introduced a totally re-designed website from the ground up, built on a custom PHP back-end along with new branding I had designed.
This was our biggest and boldest re-design. There was a growing need for users to create their own content, so we essentially replaced the traditional home page with a 'feed' of content and introduced a post creator and new on-boarding.
This version of the website had a totally new back-end, built on Node.js. This meant we could introduce more features, scalability and tech we couldn't before. As for the design, refinements and new features were added across the site - including the ability to follow users, redesigned on-boarding and new profiles.
The latest and greatest version of the Car Throttle made some more major changes, such as replacing the right sidebar with an 'inbox' and introducing a 'discover' page to surface popular and trending content.
Testing and iterating
The end product isn't the end. As a a user experience designer, it is my responsibility to constantly get the users feedback, A/B test and improve the usability and conversion rates of the website based on the data we collected.
I used a tool called Optimizely extensively to A/B test many things, ranging from CTA position and copy, feed layout, content ordering etc. Below you can see results from a share button test we did, were I managed to dramatically increase post sharing by making the buttons sticky.