8 Reasons Why Your Dealer Website Needs A Good Design

By Erik Trent

Oth­er than hav­ing inven­to­ry that doesn’t appeal to poten­tial cus­tomers, poor web­site design is often the pri­ma­ry rea­son for a deal­er website’s fail­ure. If your web­site fails to engage the user, they’re not going to stay on your site. Many web­site providers offer cheap tem­plates with almost no design ele­ments, and that’s not the right way to go if you want to suc­ceed. Most auto deal­ers aren’t design­ers, so here are 8 rea­sons why your site should be designed well. Use these tips to take a look at your site and see how you mea­sure up.

Remem­ber – your poten­tial cus­tomers are look­ing at your com­peti­tors too… does your web­site help you stand out and look bet­ter?

1.  Fol­low cur­rent web stan­dards.

Web stan­dards refer to guide­lines set out by the World Wide Web Con­sor­tium (W3C). These stan­dards ensure that web­sites look and feel con­sis­tent across a broad range of devices and plat­forms. They also help make sure that sites are acces­si­ble by all inter­net users, even those with dis­abil­i­ties.

Check your web­site and make sure that it looks the same in every brows­er (browsers oth­er than Inter­net Explor­er, such as Fire­fox, Chrome, or Safari). You should make sure that your deal­er web­site looks the same regard­less of oper­at­ing sys­tem or brows­er so that every poten­tial cus­tomer sees the same thing. Web stan­dards also help with faster load­ing times and eas­i­er to main­tain code, as well as search engine opti­miza­tion.

2.  Usabil­i­ty is incred­i­bly impor­tant.

Research shows that users who can’t find their way around eas­i­ly (usu­al­ly between 5 and 10 sec­onds) will often leave your web­site. If the infor­ma­tion con­tained on your web­site is dif­fi­cult to read, too gener­ic, or poor­ly struc­tured, chances are users won’t be able to find what they were look­ing for.

When it comes to find­ing what you’re look­ing for,  nav­i­ga­tion is key. As a gen­er­al rule, users should always be able to get back to your home page with a sin­gle click. Com­mon prac­tice is to make your web­site logo (usu­al­ly in the top left hand side) link to your home page.

In a nut­shell, it needs to be easy to get around your web­site. Make sure every page is on your menu, either as a pri­ma­ry but­ton or a sub-menu but­ton. Don’t clut­ter your home page with so many images, but­tons, and links that cus­tomers don’t know where to go. Sim­ple and easy are always best.

3.  Con­tact infor­ma­tion is crit­i­cal to any web­site.

Whether it’s email or phone sup­port, cus­tomers should be able to get in touch with you quick­ly and eas­i­ly. It’s best prac­tice to have your “con­tact us” but­ton be at the far right of your site menu. Con­tact forms should be sim­ple and require min­i­mal input from users. Don’t expect users to fill in 20 fields of per­son­al data – they sim­ply won’t do it. Pro­vid­ing con­tact details also adds cred­i­bil­i­ty to your web­site.

4.  Make it easy for cus­tomers to search your inven­to­ry.

If your inven­to­ry is large, it’s impor­tant to have advanced search func­tion­al­i­ty. Your cus­tomers are used to using search engines to get what they want – so make it easy for them to search your inven­to­ry with both links and a key­word search field. If they need to type too many dif­fer­ent queries before find­ing what they need, chances are they’ll go else­where.

Your search func­tion­al­i­ty should be sim­ple and easy to under­stand. Again, if it’s too clut­tered or hard to fol­low, cus­tomers won’t use it and they’ll go some­where else.

5.  Don’t go crazy with col­or choic­es.

When you’re set­ting up your deal­er web­site, don’t choose col­ors that are too intense. Many deal­ers choose bright, gar­ish col­ors to try to stand out, but that will actu­al­ly chase cus­tomers away. Choose a white back­ground with black text to aid read­abil­i­ty. Remem­ber that users will com­mon­ly asso­ciate links with blue text and an under­line. If you change this, try to keep the under­line in place and give the link a unique col­or to sep­a­rate it from your nor­mal text. Try not to exceed using more than 5 or 6 dif­fer­ent col­ors on your web­site. Your web­site deliv­ers infor­ma­tion much like a book – it’s not a juke­box.

6.  Don’t cen­ter your text.

You should nev­er use cen­ter align­ment for your text. Many auto deal­ers love to cen­ter their text, but cen­tered text is hard­er to read. Text should be left jus­ti­fied, just like a Word doc­u­ment.

7.  Resize your images before you upload them.

When you’re load­ing images to your sta­t­ic pages, make sure you’re load­ing them at the size you want them dis­played. We see deal­er web­sites all the time that dis­play images as a small­er image, but take an extreme­ly long time to load. This hap­pens because the deal­er is load­ing in a huge image and just resiz­ing the image with code (usu­al­ly done with CSS auto­mat­i­cal­ly in the web­site CMS sys­tem). Slow load­ing images can frus­trate users with slow­er con­nec­tion speeds, and site load time actu­al­ly counts as a fac­tor for how your web­site ranks in the search engines.

8.  Don’t use huge images on your vehi­cle details pages.

Just because your provider gives you the option to dis­play huge images doesn’t mean you should do it. We see deal­ers all the time who set their sites to dis­play huge images on their details pages. Near­ly every provider out there dis­plays small thumb­nails that a user can click to show larg­er images in some sort of pho­to view­er – you don’t need to dou­ble up with large images on the actu­al page as well. It caus­es the page to load VERY slow­ly and youre mak­ing your users scroll down end­less­ly to be able to read your vehi­cle descrip­tion and read about the installed options. Don’t force your cus­tomers to see the large pho­tos, let them choose to see them in the pho­to view­er.

Fol­low these 8 tips and you’re going to have a well-designed deal­er web­site that per­forms well with poten­tial cus­tomers.  Remem­ber – your deal­er web­site is almost always your first impres­sion with cus­tomers. Stay away from the cheap tem­plates and your cus­tomers will thank you for it.

Erik Tent is the Cre­ative Direc­tor at AutoRe­vo and can be reached at support@autorevo.com.






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