When we think of luxury, we often think of tradition, old-school opulence and grandeur. This association works well for products and brands with a long heritage. Mercedes-Benz, Burberry and Fortnum & Mason are just a few examples of companies that capitalise on their longstanding credentials to sell products today. But how can young, innovative brands position themselves alongside these competitors in the luxury market?
In this article, we analyse the website design of the world’s most innovative automotive brand: Tesla. As we began reviewing the websites of luxury automotive brands, Tesla stood out from the rest. The company has reimagined vehicles and sustainable energy for everyday life. Beyond cars and power banks, Elon Musk and his team of experts are selling an idea, a futuristic reality that’s right there for the taking – for a tidy sum, of course. Tesla’s website does a brilliant job of positioning its vehicles alongside its high-end competitors whilst clearly explaining the innovative technology.
For brands offering something pioneering, unusual or futuristic and pushing the boundaries of what’s currently available, our Tesla website review has insights for you. If you would like to incorporate any features discussed here on your website, the KIJO team are experts in luxury website design. Contact us to get started on your digital platforms.
Why do Companies Struggle to Sell Innovation?
Innovative products often provide original, practical solutions to everyday challenges. Things that we take for granted today – WI-FI, central heating, automatic cars and induction hobs – all began as innovative solutions to improve our daily lives. At the time, each pushed the boundaries of technology.
The problem is that technology can be hard to see and therefore hard to sell. Take induction hobs: it’s hard to make cooking food more efficiently look glamorous – unless you’re Nigella Lawson. Technology is rarely tangible and often requires an explanation for people to fully understand it. This is challenging when a company is pushing the boundaries of what’s currently possible, as potential customers won’t have a frame of reference within which to understand or compare their products.
Innovative companies and their websites have to sell not only a product but an idea. A desirable yet simple-to-understand idea at that.
So, how to do it?
How the Tesla Website Sells an Idea
Founded in 2003, Tesla is an electric vehicle and clean energy company. It manufactures and sells electric cars, battery energy storage units, solar products and more. Owner and CEO, Elon Musk, is internationally recognised for his ambitious ideas to reimagine travel and sustainable energy.
Tesla’s company mission is to ‘accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy’. The need for environmentally-friendly energy is driving new industries across the world, but it’s rarely portrayed as luxurious. This is where Tesla’s website design is imperative if it’s going to stand up to the grandeur of the long-standing gas-guzzling supercar brands such as Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Tesla has the unenviable dual job of convincing customers that they make cars as luxurious as any other and explaining how they work. In light of this challenge, the Tesla website strikes the perfect balance. It presents Tesla vehicles in the way a luxury consumer would expect. Simultaneously, it explains the futuristic technology that sets Tesla apart, without bamboozling the user. The technology is mighty impressive but, crucially, the website shows that it is accessible and functional in day-to-day life.
Tesla’s Homepage – Innovation Made Easy
The Tesla website homepage uses a familiar format. Users are greeted with a full-screen image of their latest ‘Model 3’. Of the automotive websites we have reviewed, those that came out on top always greeted visitors with full-page visuals. It’s bold, immersive and visually impressive.
Beneath this, there are 3 clear options for the visitor, ‘Custom Order’, ‘Available Inventory’ and ‘Schedule a Virtual Consultation’. So far, so remarkably familiar. Tesla’s website makes it clear from the get-go, there’s no compromising on customisation or personal service here, ground-breaking technology or not.
Initially, if you didn’t know anything about Tesla, the only inkling of any difference from a regular luxury car website is the ‘Powerwall’ option in the navigation menu. Presenting the brand using familiar formatting keeps customers reassured.
So far, Tesla comfortably sits alongside its competitors, but now to address the elephant in the room. How do these cars actually work? The second item on the homepage is another full-page width image. This time for Solar and Powerwall.
Beneath this, the homepage presents various new models and finally, ‘Accessories’, including charging ports. The Tesla website designers have done a brilliant job of pre-empting potential customer needs and directing them appropriately. It delivers clear funnels for visitors based on the product type.
For any business offering something new, always consider what your user needs and wants to know and position this front and centre on your website. You might work with this technology every day, but until it becomes commonplace, make it easy and unintimidating for potential customers to understand it.
Impressive Visual Design Puts Tesla Firmly Ahead of Competitors
Regardless of what’s powering the car, looks are important, especially for high-end clientele. The Tesla website showcases each model’s interior and exterior with a stylish and sleek visual design.
Full-page image carousels, informative grids, a simple yet striking black and white design and exceptional photography all combine to create individual product pages that easily rival others we have reviewed.
Once users have decided on their preferred models, they can either peruse the inventory or create a custom model. The ‘Inventory’ pages work much the same as most luxury automotive website product pages, but Tesla’s layout sets it apart. There are detailed filters, ample space and an optimum amount of information that keeps you informed without clogging up the page. Users can choose to view products in list or grid format. In either view, you can instantly view car details as well as interior and exterior images without navigating away from the page.
The ‘Custom Order’ feature, where users can build a custom model, is a seamless and intuitive multi-step form. It provides exterior and interior options, with a vertical layout that makes it easy for the user to see everything without scrolling. The only drawbacks are the lack of 360-degree images and the unmoveable footer that takes up an unnecessary amount of screen space.
Using Web Design Features to Explain Tricky Technology
From the homepage, users are taken to product pages. Essential information including range, top speed and 0-60mph is overlaid on impressive full-screen photography of the cars in motion. Beneath this, a brilliantly constructed single page explains Tesla’s car features in greater detail.
The page functions more as a slideshow than a long web page. Information is segmented into slides that snap to the centre as you scroll through. This is softened with smooth entry animations for copy, buttons and diagram labels.
White text over photos and auto-play videos emphasises key details and statistics. Readers can absorb the information quickly before moving on, thanks to minimalist design, subtle animation and simple iconography.
Visual design varies throughout each section, with the final specifications completely inverting the colour scheme into dark mode. This is a clear break in the flow, re-engaging the reader as they reach the boilerplate information.
This slideshow design creates an opportunity for multiple calls to action. Each ‘slide’ presents boldly coloured buttons, encouraging readers to ‘Learn More’ and ‘Order Now’.
Within the Autopilot section, boldly titled ‘The Future of Driving’, users can click ‘Learn More’ for a detailed breakdown of the autopilot features. The page expands into a carousel, which includes ‘Navigate on Autopilot’, ‘Summon’, ‘Autopark’ and ‘Auto Lane Change’ sections. An explainer video shows each feature in action. The animation is essential here. It is the most succinct, accurate way to show how this ground-breaking technology works in practice.
There is a further section explaining ‘The Future of Autopilot’, with an easy-to-follow video. It explains that all current Tesla vehicles have the hardware to enable full car self-drive when this update is rolled out. This reassures potential customers that this isn’t faddy technology but a long-term transition to effortless driving.
Highlight your Innovations
The ‘Powerwall’ page, though not about the vehicles, uses the same simple but beautiful animations to explain Tesla’s power storage technology. Making it easy to comprehend innovative technology and its benefits with visuals is a key tool in winning over potential clientele. Tesla’s website hits this mark time and time again.
Tesla takes the opportunity to highlight their core innovation again in the car configurator, with a whole section offering the inclusion of their Autopilot feature. This section is not identical to the explanation given in the product pages, so avoids repetitive content. Animations show how the technology works in everyday life, supported by simple prose. There’s a smaller section of text beneath this that goes into detail regarding testing, reliability, safety and updates to provide the extra reassurance people want. By reproducing this explainer in multiple positions on the site, they ensure that customers can’t miss what sets them apart.
11 ways Tesla’s Website Design Sells Luxury Innovation
- Make the homepage simple, familiar and easy to navigate to reassure visitors
- Pre-empt customer’s needs and questions with funnelling
- Explain in detail with a slideshow-style page
- Engage your readers intuitively with entry animations
- Simplify key details with iconography
- Repeat calls to action to give your reader clear direction
- Use animated videos and carousels for simple and intuitive explanations
- Let photography showcase the luxury of your products
- Design customisation and product filters for a seamless user experience
- Use multi-step forms to simplify complex data collection
- Highlight your core innovations everywhere
Tesla’s Website: Striking Design and Innovative Technology in Equal Measure
Tesla hasn’t just let their innovation do the talking on their website. They have designed a site that is visually stunning, highly practical and informative. By explaining their futuristic technology in stages, using clever website design and animation, the user is never overwhelmed or frustrated. In our opinion, they could make more of how ground-breaking their technology really is, and how it transforms everyday life. Tesla’s decision to present their technology in understated, normalising tones reinforces the future they are creating as attainable, accessible and realistic.
Displaying new products or services in such a stylish, informative way requires a sophisticated website layout and advanced design features. The KIJO team can help you with every aspect of website design, creation and development. Check out the rest of our work here to learn more or drop the team a message to get the ball rolling for your business.