I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m a car guy, but I do have an interest in the automotive world, both in terms of hot new vehicles and the latest modifications coming out of the so-called “tuner” culture. John is probably much the same way with the pair of Pagani Zonda supercars he has in the header above.
It’s no secret that a lot of car people love attention — whether it be blowing away the competition at the drag strip or at the auto show — and what better way to attract attention to yourself than to order a ReviewMe review? That’s exactly what Auto Concourse decided to do and it could very well be the best $400 they ever spent.
Almost Everything a Car Lover Could Want
The people behind Auto Concourse have taken a multi-pronged approach to the site. They didn’t want to be just a community or just a car news blog. They wanted to do everything and it shows. Going from left to right across the top:
- Home: That’s pretty self-explanatory. They focus on “popular” and “recent” news here. All of the links are outbound, meaning that they send you away from Auto Concourse to actually read the whole story. It’s just a news aggregator (in addition to member submitted links).
- News: This isn’t all that different than the main homepage. There are a series of up and coming news pieces presented in a Digg-like fashion, allowing registered members to vote on the stories that they found particularly interesting. This “vote” button looks like a push start button.
- Blog: Finally, original material! The AutoConcourse blog is where they post up tidbits that are lighter and more humorous than the hard news. For example, they linked to John’s post about the kid who asked for $50k to buy an Audi TT.
- Events: Basically, you get a calendar of different events taking place across the nation. It’s very much geared towards Americans, so you won’t find out about quarter mile drags in Vancouver or hot car shows in Frankfurt. They list time attacks, gatherings, and NOPI supershows, among other events.
- Links: There are a few basic links here to resources, motorsports organizations, and official automaker sites. Nothing all that special. I can totally see the potential for advertising dollars through “featured links” here.
- Community: Each member is given their own little piece of online real estate to show off pictures of their rides, short descriptions of themselves, and a list of stories that they submitted. Think of it as MySpace for gearheads, but it’s much more restrictive in terms of customizability. It’s great that they cashed in on the whole social networking phenomenon, however.
Layout and Theme
I personally like the way that Auto Concourse is laid out. In fact, there are certain similarities between Auto Concourse and “bigger” sites like Leftlane News. It’s the attention to detail that really catches my eye, from the carbon fiber-trimmed header image to the push start button motif used for many of the site’s features. This push start thing — I know they use this in the Honda S2000 as well as several other cars — is a particularly nice touch. It’s used to login/register, as well as to vote on news stories to indicate to other members whether you thought the news was interesting or not. Clean, simple, yet stylish.
Auto Concourse Makes Money Online?
It’s surprising that AutoConcourse, as far as I can tell, is only monetized by Google Adsense and what’s more, the banners they chose are restricted to image ads only. Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket! If they hope to make more money with this website, they’ll need to expand their horizons, possibly sign on a few sponsors, and really start to look for different ways to make money. I think that affiliate deals on automotive parts can go a very long way, as can links to used car sites, dealerships, and other related businesses.
Building the Community
It’s nice that they want to develop a community of automotive enthusiasts, and while the member pages and uploaded pictures are fine, there is something quite simple that the people behind this car site could do to really grow: forums.
That is the single biggest piece of advice that I can give. This gives members a venue in which they can best communicate with one another, voicing their own opinions, looking for solutions to problems they may be having, and even organizing some member events so that they can see one another in real life. Forums have been a big part of the Internet experience ever since the BBS days, and they’re just as relevant today as ever.
In the end, I feel that AutoConcourse has a lot of potential to become a prime internet destination for car enthusiasts. The news section would be better served with “real” articles rather than just being aggregated, though.