What a difference design makes.

Casually browsingi for new summer wheels for Jay,ii and not one to waste timeiii driving from tuner shop to tire shop to tuner shop to tire shop, I was all-too-soon elbowing my way through the muddied trenches of online wheel+tire outfits – broadly bewildered at their collective indolence and insolence – wondering how plush the margins must be in the industry that it had yet to competitively weed out such swathes of ineptitude. Not one to dwell on such speculative endeavours,iv . Quickly enough, my circuitous travels funneled ’round the toilet bowl and landed where where most such scharts do : TireRack.comv

In case you’ve never dipped your toes into these (admittedly trivial) waters, Tire Rack has a pretty unimpeachable reputation in the segment. They’re the clear market share leader, they advertise heavily, they ship internationally, they carry top brands, and I’ll be damned if they don’t have the cleanest, most functional, most attractive Web 2.0 site I’ve seen. Period.vi Go to some webhost’s stupid excuse for a “flashy” website or some other online retailer’s, say one selling patterned socks or French presses or whatever, and with the 175 – 200% magnification that I view webpages at (lest I become even more of a blind jew) they’re entirely unusable. It’s like looking through those Inuit bone goggles while touring downtown Manhattan : all you get is the stench. The entire upper half of the page is consumed by some braindamaged fixed header that follows you like a deranged street urchin as you scroll down the page, squinting like “me so ronery” as you try to make heads or tails of what the fuck exactly you’re buying.

But does Tire Rack do any of that ? No, they do not. What they do is show an attractive side profile image of your car, complete with the actual body paint colour palette,vii and then present you with an unmatched selection of wheel styles and an elegantly organised list of categories and sub-categories with which to refine your search. The thing just works. And goddam if it doesn’t look good doing it.

Appreciating how horrendously rare this is, I took a peek at the page’s source code. Surprise surprise, it was so freaking clean (for a Web 2.0 retail page) that you could practically eat off it. The website performance data only confirmed my aesthetic intuition : compared to another leading wheel+tire site,viii Tire Rack’s page made 54 fewer requests and loaded in 40% of the time [TR vs. 1010], in addition to displaying far greater functionality and yielding a far more pleasing retail experience than this particular competitor.ix Even the size of the source code pages differed markedly, with 1010Tires dragging along 66% more bytes of code.x Not that leaner code alone is sufficient for incorporation into the pentuach, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction towards fits in head. As awful as Web 2.0 can be and broadly speaking is, it really doesn’t get much better than what Tire Rack’s done.xi

So to the lisp-ignorant brogrammers that mistakenly maintain the perception that they can bury their mistakes in the “community” and “SOPs” and “just wanted to x” : your shit stinks to high heaven. Nevermind that you’re not good enough to write clean code, I wouldn’t let you clean the dead ladybugs stuck between the patio doors of my house. Your only saving grace is that there’s no guild from which to be banishèd.

Anyways, ROE on new OZ 19s ? 9.4 years. Thxbutnothx.

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  1. The purpose of this bit of research was principally to calculate the ROE (what investment ? cars are an expense) on new wheels because changing-over mounted vs. unmounted tires with the changing-over of the seasons rings it at $60 vs. $180, respectively. Do the the maffs on this happening twice a year and it may well be cost-effective to just buy a second set of wheels. Perchance. We shall see. []
  2. My latest toy came with both winter and summer tires, a must when you live in a climate with a 75°C difference between winter and summer, but only one set of wheels : the stock 19″ Touring specimens that were available exclusively on the long wheelbase model. But no, this isn’t the beginning of 1k words on “top 10 wheel designs that are best value 4u.” []
  3. Can you really waste time driving when you love cars ? Um ya ? What, you think I bought a Lexus LS460L because I actually like driving ? Mno. I like cars like I like computers : they’re best when they’re staying the fuck out of your way, and at best, looking boss doing it. []
  4. If a ready hypothesis doesn’t present itself, I tend to shelve the subject matter for further subconscious deliberation. Some minds thrive on their spontaneously conscious cognitive capacities, parallel processing as if they had 8-cores ; but for this single-core machine, the best meals are slow-cooked. []
  5. tire rack stacking stacks

    []

  6. This might sound like “the tallest person I’ve seen is six-five so that’s the tallest person in the world,” but I spend a lot more time online than pretty much any of you reading this and my scope of interests is almost certainly a damn sight broader. So as far as anecdotes go, this one’s plenty sharp. []
  7. Uploading this much data and accurately displaying it for customers is no mean feat. []
  8. 1010Tires, where I’ve purchased some rubber in the past. Not that kind of rubber. The Magnums I buy at the local pharmacy are fine. []
  9. The website of yet another competitor, Edmonton-based Kaltire, offers the “visualiser” feature that Tire Rack does (and 1010Tires doesn’t), but Kaltire’s site is appreciably slower to load and what does load is an eye-searingly washed-out palette of paints. Inexplicably, this tool, in every sense of the word, makes my car look like a last-gen Hyundai Sonata. Just no. []
  10. Tirerack source vs. 1010Tires source. []
  11. Inb4 “OMG Pete no one cares about retail websites hurr durr.” To which I say : Design is design. I don’t care if you’re designing kitten mittons, a new commercial office tower, a radio speaker, or a buttplug : do it well, do it thoughtfully, do it cleanly and elegantly and do it like you give a damn. Just because it’s not “SOP,” doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as enduring design.

    And just because you use CAD, doesn’t mean you’re a designer. In fact, they’re sorta mutually exclusive. []

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