With businesses and individuals finding time at more of a premium than ever before, being able to track down information quickly and easily is paramount to a company’s ability to attract and retain customers. Everybody has experienced the frustration of not being able to find what they consider to be fairly basic information on a website, and a business’s reputation can take a severe pasting or praising based on its online presence. That’s why we took the decision to immerse What Van? in the online persona of the top dozen light commercial vehicle brands, in order to reward those found to be doing the best job, and point others in the direction of improvement.
Renault’s website, found at www.renault.co.uk/vans won our October analysis and is the first What Van? website of the year with a final score of 78%, 6% clear of Citroen in second place after assessment across a range of 10 criteria, ranging from site accessibility and speed of email response time to dealer finder search and site extras.
With the exception of a social media presence, Renault scored strongly across the board, gaining maximum marks for accessibility, ease of use and site extras, which included a van owner forum, guide to future models, links to the Department for Transport’s Van Best Practice website, van offers and a mass of company news
and information.
Renault’s light commercial vehicle website also scored very well for a clean and appealing design, the access to downloadable brochures and an impressively detailed email response that arrived within six hours of the enquiry while others took days or, in two cases, failed to respond at all. Finding a dealer through the website is also easy thanks to a search that returns sites by distance with dealer phone number, route from your postcode and links to the dealer’s own site.
The What Van? verdict on
the Renault site was that it’s an “impressive site with few weaknesses”. We did criticise the van configurator tool for being clunkier than the best systems, but if Renault improves that then it could be looking good to hold onto its prize in the 2013 What Van? Awards.

Highly Commended

Citroen’s www.citroen.co.uk/vans website came out as second best in our analysis, just ahead of rival manufacturers Ford, Peugeot and Vauxhall, and therefore claims the Highly Commended in the 2012 What Van? Awards. Had the telephone or email assistance been more helpful, this website would have at least pushed Renault close, if not actually nabbed the crown from its French competitor. Another strong all-round site, the downloadable brochure impressed, while ease of use, site design and the light commercial vehicle configuring tool were
also strong.
It will be interesting to see if any of the websites that didn’t perform as well this time around take our criticism on board and push the leaders harder when we undertake the same exercise towards the end of 2012, but for now it’s  congratulations to Renault for a website that best helps light commercial vehicle users and operators in their daily lives.