Tips to Improve Your Automotive Website’s User Experience

User experience is one of the most vital components to consider when designing a website. After all, the user is the reason why your website exists.

If you’re trying to attract potential customers to your business online, you’ll want to consider our top tips for improving your website’s user experience.

In this installment of the fusionZONE blog, we cover automotive web design best practices, but these seven tips can apply to websites in any industry.

Let’s get started with one of the most critical components of providing a pleasant user experience.

1. Keep It Simple

Developing a clean, simple and intuitive website design helps visitors reach their goals.

If your site’s design is overloaded with text, graphics, calls to action, menu items and pop-ups, you risk losing your audience even before they fully interact with your dealership online.

It’s not uncommon for website visitors to encounter too many options — and too much going on — when they arrive at a dealership’s homepage or landing page. When faced with a confusing or complex website layout, visitors tend to bounce from the site and start shopping elsewhere, somewhere they feel more comfortable and in control.

2. Keep It Consistent

Have you ever visited a website that feels like different designers and developers built its various pages? This phenomenon can lead to a less-than-stellar visitor experience, one where the site may even lose credibility through its inconsistency.

But consistent design goes far beyond merely a site’s design elements, such as its use of colors, fonts and graphics. Many elements go into a consistent website design, from the internal linking structure and website navigation bar design to page layouts and lead form designs.

It’s imperative to maintain a consistent user flow throughout your automotive website. So no matter if a visitor is shopping the latest new car models on your lot or scheduling an appointment at your service center, they’ll encounter similar and familiar steps along the way to reaching their goal.

Creating a consistent design across your site helps visitors feel at home, which means more time on site, more interaction with your business and a better chance of converting site visits into leads and sales.

3. Use Design Elements to Separate Page Sections

Do you have a lot of quality content and information about your business on your site? That’s great, but you’ll want to make sure that visitors can digest the info easily.

One way to accomplish this is to utilize design elements to separate content into smaller sections. On your dealership homepage, you could start with a few calls to action with links to popular products and services, such as your new inventory, used inventory and schedule service page.

Below the fold, you can create another design element and section that highlights the latest car models available at your dealership, followed by separate sections detailing the reasons to buy and service at your business.

Maybe you even want to highlight each of your dealership’s departments, covering a mix of online and on-site services you offer.

Using design elements and white space to break down content into bite-sized sections is especially important on pages with extensive text and graphics.

4. Practice Responsive Design

Is your website mobile-friendly?

The best way to test this out is to visit your website on a mobile device, pretend that you are a first-time visitor, and navigate through the site with different objectives in mind. If you find that it’s more difficult or less intuitive than you initially thought, then it’s time to implement responsive design.

Responsive website designs render well on all devices and browsers. So whether a user is viewing your site on a smartphone, tablet or PC monitor the size of a television screen, the website navigation and content will display consistently.

Since smaller screens have far less visual real estate than a desktop computer’s display monitor, the user experience and site functionality can diminish if you don’t utilize responsive design.

For instance, many common website navigation mistakes on mobile devices can be attributed to simply not considering smaller screen sizes when developing the website.

5. Consider Page Speed

Page speed certainly matters to the user experience, and it matters in Google’s search rankings, too. Plugins, pop-ups and third-party apps can slow your page load speed to a crawl, so you’ll want to use these elements as sparingly as possible.

Many factors are at play when optimizing your site’s page speed for a pleasant user experience, but much of it boils down to our first point: keep it simple.

6. Utilize Intuitive Navigation

Your website’s menu is the chief way visitors navigate your site, so the type of website navigation you employ plays a big factor in the overall user experience.

What are some website navigation best practices? Or how do you know if there is good navigation on a website?

Well, going back to responsive design, you’ll first want to ensure that visitors across all devices and browsers can easily move through your site via the website navigation menu.

Current site navigation trends certainly favor a simpler approach to menu design, one that is free from clutter or unnecessary or duplicate links, and one that is highly responsive for mobile visitors.

7. Audit Your Menu & Content Regularly

The task of developing an excellent user experience is never done. That’s why performing routine audits of your site design is so important.

Having outdated content or graphics is never a good look to visitors, nor is having broken links on pages or in the navigation. Updating content, graphics, links and other elements is crucial, and so is auditing your website navigation menu.

Using the example of a test run, you can visit your website on various devices, browse the navigation menu and look for any areas of confusion or redundancy.

See how long it takes you to reach certain pages or goals on your website by simply using the navigation bar. If you struggle at all, assume that visitors and customers less familiar with your site and services will have a tougher time with the navigation.

If you’re looking for ways to improve website navigation or would like a second opinion on your dealer site’s navigation bar, reach out to fusionZONE. We specialize in developing high-performance websites for car dealerships, auto repair shops and dealers in the powersports and commercial vehicle industries.

The fusionZONE team has developed NAV 2.0, the future of website navigation. Contact us for a tour and test drive of our latest responsive, mobile-friendly navigation!

You’ve done it. You’ve finished your website. It has video content, beautiful graphics, and blogs full of SEO keywords, all to boost your search results on Google. You’re doing everything right, but your page is slow to load. Now what?

People will never see your site because it takes a one-Mississippi to load. A slow-to-load website can be devastating to your business. In the time it takes to buffer and load, someone’s already hit the back button and is onto the next search result. Your website’s been dismissed before anybody ever saw it.

Page speed is critical in user experience, converting searches to sales, and search engine optimization (SEO).

In a time when the need for immediate gratification has never been more prominent, today’s internet surfer expects pages to load instantaneously. If your site doesn’t, that customer will catch the next wave.

Several factors impact page load speed. If your website is slow to load, here are two quick tips on boosting page load speed.

COMPRESS YOUR IMAGES AND VIDEO

People want beautiful images, and you’ve got them. The only trouble is, all those high-resolution images take forever to load. There are two factors to address here: a) the size of each image and b) the number of pictures or videos loading simultaneously.

You need to address both of these issues by reducing the file size of all images and videos. Before you upload that full-size image, be sure to resize it first. If an image is going to display at 400 pixels, don’t upload it at 4,000.

JPGs are your friend. A JPG is a compressed image that still retains the integrity of the image. A JPG won’t become blurry or pixelate when it’s compressed. How do you know if you’re using JPGs or not? When you look a the file name of the image you’re uploading, it will end with a period followed by a few letters. If those letters are JPG, you’re all set. If those letters are TIFF, BMP, PNG, then you’ve found one of the culprits slowing down your page.

Have you compressed all the photos on your page? Even if an image is the correct size for a space, it should still be compressed. Compressed files are faster to load and won’t impact image quality.

If you’re exporting an image from a program like Photoshop, there’s a “save for web” option that will compress the image for you when it saves.

You’ve probably heard that video is a great way to drive people to your website and improve your search ranking on Google. And this is true. Video content is a great way to bring people to your website, keep them there, and sell a product. The only problem is, video can be slow to load. Especially high-definition videos.

The same rule for images applies to videos: compress them all.

Another trick is to limit the number of images and videos on a single page. The more things that need to load, the longer it will take. The idea is to strike a balance between user experience and website design.

Have you ever been to an Ikea? Ikea’s are designed so you have to walk through the entire store before you can leave. Even if you’re running in for a single item and know exactly where it is, you still need to go through the maze. Because, undoubtedly, a set of hangers or dish rack will catch your eye on your way out, and you’ll buy something else.

A website can do the same thing. You don’t need all your images and graphics on the homepage. Guide people through your site with CTA buttons and hyperlinks, so they’ll discover things along the way.

FIX BROKEN LINKS

Have you had the experience of visiting a website, finding precisely what you’re looking for, clicking on the link, only to be taken to a page that says, “404 Error?” What do you do when that happens?

If this happens to one of your customers when visiting your website, they’re going to do the same thing you do: go to someone else’s website.

An easy way to ensure that your pages are all working is to click on them. Go through your website.

If you owned a restaurant, you might ask your friends to go in for dinner one night to test the guest experience, so they can tell you how the food tasted and if the service was up to par. Owning a website is no different. The good news is, you can check these things yourself because your website doesn’t know the boss is having dinner at table six and needs five-star service.

For websites with hundreds of pages, there are programs you can download to regularly test the pages, such as Screaming Frog SEO Spider and Ahrefs. There’s no reason you can’t use both of those or similar programs to double-check the work. When they all come back with zero broken links, you know you’re good to go.

Many factors can slow download times, but compressing images/video and fixing broken links are two quick fixes you can make on your own.

If you’ve made these adjustments and are still having problems, talk to a web developer like fusionZONE Automotive. An experienced web developer can look at factors such as minimizing HTTP requests, using a CDN, configuring server settings, putting CSS at the top and JS at the bottom, etc.

For a diagnostic of your website, get in touch with fusionZONE Automotive today!