Yes,yes…a research conclusion that I totally agree with.

When you consult and write about a subject it is very tempting to extrapolate the universe of the market from your own experiences. The fact that I like something or not, or indeed the fact that the people I know have certain preferences, doesn’t mean that we are any more than a tiny niche in a large group of consumers.

So it is brilliant that when you come to a conclusion you have it validated by the industry leader in the market sector.

I have been looking to buy a new car. This means I have spent, what seems like a lifetime, plodding through car manufacturer’s web sites. Some, most, are not good. Sure they are beautifully constructed but from the point of view of helping me to make a decision about purchasing a car they get a low score.

Honda stood out as a really well thought out web site. It did what a web site should do and anticipates what I wanted and then provided me with a simple way of achieving the outcome.

I didn’t buy a Honda but that was for a host of other reasons. The web site certainly was a big, big plus in making me favour the brand.

The crux of the issue is very well expressed in this press release from J. D. Powers.

Auto manufacturer websites that focus primarily on brand image promotion and interesting design features rather than usability may be hindering vehicle shoppers in their search for information. 

Websites that maintain focus on usability, along with branding and design features, are the most successful in satisfying vehicle shoppers. For example, two high performing sites, Honda and Kia, each focus on usability and allow shoppers to access information quickly and easily. As a result, both Honda and Kia perform well in each of the four measures examined in the study: speed, appearance, navigation and information/content.

In contrast, some of the lowest-ranking websites use an edgy, brand-centric design that put marketing goals ahead of meeting shopper needs. As a result, they perform particularly poorly in the appearance measure. Certain design elements on these sites hinder speed, ease of navigation and user access to information and content. For example, some websites feature links to streaming music and options for selecting the website background scheme, which distract users from vehicle shopping. Other websites deviate from traditional pull-down menus in an effort to incorporate brand logos into the site design, which forces shoppers to learn an entirely new navigation scheme.

We are not talking about having to make the site boring but making it do what the consumer wants not to indulge the interests and prejudices of the web design team.

Remember that 50% (appox) of new cars are purchased by the 50-plus. Remember there are not that many 50-plus web designers.

Image source:Ian Muttoo

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