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!