AutoMotion Blog

Website Design Impacts Likelihood of a Customer Test Drive

By: Jeff Youngs, 1/31/2014
According to the J.D. Power 2014 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study (MWES)SM--Winter, vehicle shoppers who are delighted with their experience using an auto manufacturer's website are more likely to visit a dealership and take a test drive than those who have a less satisfying online experience.

For 15 years, the semi-annual J.D. Power study has evaluated how new-vehicle buyers feel about auto manufacturer websites during the new-vehicle shopping process based on the following criteria, listed in order of importance: information/content, navigation, appearance, and speed. Acura ranks highest in customer satisfaction (859 points of a 1,000-point scale) in the 2014 MWES--Winter, followed by Jeep (851) and Infiniti (850).

Among new-vehicle shoppers who are "delighted" with their experience on an auto manufacturer's website, 73% indicate they are more likely to test drive a vehicle after visiting the auto manufacturer's website, compared with 16% of new-vehicle shoppers who say they are "disappointed" with their experience.

As more manufacturer sites move to responsive design as a way to manage the multiple ways that consumers access online content across computers, tablets, and smartphones, desktop computer users have a fairly consistent experience on websites with responsive design technology and more traditionally designed websites. The key challenge for developers, transitioning to responsive design, is offering a navigational framework that will work seamlessly for desktop, tablet, and smartphone users.

"Developing robust and easy-to-use navigation and offering the right amount of content is critical for websites that are transitioning to a single responsive design site," said Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media & marketing at J.D. Power. "If the site does not function well or takes a long time to load the page content, some shoppers may turn to other sources, where they may discover other brands and models, or even lose confidence in the brand itself and cross the vehicle off their shopping list."

Responsive website designs allow visitors to view the same information regardless of whether they are using a desktop computer, laptop computer, tablet computer, or a smartphone. According to the 2014 MWES--Winter, 21% of automotive brands have adopted responsive design technology.

J.D. Power fielded the 2014 MWES--Winter between November 7, 2013, and December 4, 2013, gathering responses from 9,469 new-vehicle shoppers who claim to be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 24 months.

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