Car shoppers are heading to the web to begin their search. Over half of all car buyers (59%) begin researching online first.
They’re comparing prices, vehicle models, and trying to find the best dealership close to them.
For car dealerships, having a great website is the first step in gaining customer trust in the first few moments.
Before a potential customer sees your inventory, before they call with questions or step into your dealership, they’re probably forming a first impression based on your website design.
How can you get a great website design for your auto dealership?
Working with a professional website team well versed in user experience (UX), conversion optimization, and search engine optimization certainly helps.
Here is what our auto dealer website design team recommends:
Great Auto Dealer Website Design Features
Get a website that loads quickly.
Since July of 2018, Google has been rolling out a Mobile First update
. Google will be scanning the mobile version of your site from Google’s Smartphone Bot instead of the desktop version that used to be the default.
What does that mean for your website? If you website is not mobile-friendly, it will be ranked lower ON ALL DEVICES, including desktop.
Load speed is a top determining factor for Google when ranking sites, so having a site that loads quickly is crucial to getting a top ranking in search results.
Load speed is so important to Google because the tech giant knows how important load speed is to their end users. That means your potential customers.
If a potential customer comes to your website, and it takes too long to load, they will either abandon their search right away, or have a negative impression of your business BEFORE YOUR WEBSITE EVEN LOADS.
Below, you can see an example of one of our clients, Auto Brokers of Montana. Their load speed in nearly 90 / 100 for a site full of images, sliders, and other features.
Built properly, a site can still load quickly while having a beautiful appearance.
Make a great first impression and improve your website ranking by having a website that loads quickly.
Your website must be mobile responsive.
Car buyers are shopping online for their vehicles, and they’re doing it using multiple devices. 33% of all shopping time by car buyers is done on a mobile device, according to a D Power New Autoshopper Study.
You need a website that looks beautiful across devices, and the best way to do that is a mobile responsive website.
Responsive websites have been around for years now, but they used to be a luxury. Now they’re practically a requirement.
Google penalizes websites that are not mobile friendly. You can check how mobile-friendly your website is by using Google’s simple test
How can you make your site more responsive?
Get a site built on the latest mobile framework called Bootstrap 4.
Without getting too technical, this will help ensure that images, fonts, sliders, and other features of your website will still look appealing across all devices while retaining proper functionality. In the example below, you can see EZ Auto’s website first as a desktop, then on my mobile.
Auto dealerships can’t afford to wait. A website that looks bad on a mobile device could be costing you business. Visitors will look elsewhere to research cars, and when it comes time to make the decision, a poorly functioning website might sway buyers to check out the competition.
Use the right professional images.
People expect beautiful websites. Grainy or unprofessional images just won’t cut it.
While a certain amateurish look to photos like testimonial images can help visitors trust their authenticity, the main images on your website MUST be properly sized and attractive.
Spend the money to have professional photos taken of your dealership, and purchase licensed images if you’re using stock photos.
Earn the customer’s trust right away.
It can be challenging to make a personal connection with a car buyer online. How can you design a website to help you earn the trust of car shoppers?
Prominently display what we call in the marketing industry “symbols of trust”.
What are symbols of trust?
Shoppers trust other shoppers. 86% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and they read an average of 10 reviews before they feel like they can trust a business. Place real testimonials on your homepage to increase conversions and get more leads from your website. For an added boost, include the image of the person who gave the testimonial.
Has your dealership or staff won any awards? Display them on your homepage to let visitors know that your dealership is truly award-worthy. See how Reel’s Auto below includes their Quality Dealer of Year award on their website? That will go a long way in gaining trust of potential car buyers.
3. Use recognizable symbols.
In the example above, Reel’s Auto not only includes their awards and links to Testimonials, they also use the logos of known and trusted dealer organizations like the NIADA. We trust things we are familiar with, so including these logos or other symbols (some have the BBB rating) will help to instill more trust in potential customers.
4. Be authentic.
Sales staff are great at making personal connections with car shoppers that come into the lot. But how can you do that online? Include images of your staff, personalized biographies, and perhaps even a blog talking about what the dealership is doing in the community or just news and events locally.
Make it easy for shoppers to find what they’re looking for.
It is crucial that websites have ways for visitors to easily navigate throughout the site and quickly find what they need.
How can you help your potential customers find what they are looking for?
Create obvious and self-explanatory navigation.
That means using descriptive words, making it easy to read with lots of “white space” or padding around the text, and using fonts that are large enough. Avoid fancy fonts or elements that are distracting or confusing.
See the example of EZ Auto below? The mobile navigation is large and spaced, and drops down in color variations so the use can easily tell what is the main navigation and sub navigation. It also goes over the screen, while still revealing what page they were currently on behind the menu.
You should also include a search bar, as well as a more advanced search options if you include inventory on your website, like in the example below.
Live chat or chatbots are a great ways to connect instantly and help customers. In the example below, we’ve included Facebook’s Messenger chat feature for websites, allowing sales staff to talk instantly with web visitors.
Search Engine Optimization
I probably don’t need to tell you how important search optimization is for your website. Having a site that ranks well is the difference between gaining a foothold in the online shopper market or losing out completely.
You can’t be competitive online if you’re not showing up in search results.
I won’t go into too much detail here (I’ll save that for another article), but I’ll hit on the main things your website needs as part of its design.
How your web design can help your dealership rank well:
1. Fast load speeds.
2. Mobile friendly / Responsive design
3. Well-written Meta Data and Alt tags
4. Legitimate back-links
5. Large amounts of well-written content
6. Long-tail keywords
Your website is important. It is your home on the web, the core of your digital marketing, and often the first impression potential buyers have of your business.
Having a professional website designed with search optimization in mind is crucial to your online success as a dealership.
Auto dealership website design essentials:
1. Your website needs to load quickly so you can rank well and avoid buyers abandoning your site.
2. A mobile responsive website will also help your ranking, as well as give car shoppers a good first impression of your business and great online experience.
3. Choose relevant, beautiful images that will appeal to your audience on an emotional level.
4. Make your website easy to navigate so potential customers can quickly find what they need without frustration.
5. Help your website visitors to trust you by showing them testimonials, awards, and reviews.
6. Design your site with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind.
See how your website stacks up. Ask us for a free website analysis now.