LAS VEGAS – No offense, but it’s possible your business website isn’t so great, says Amit Aggarwal, J.D. Power’s senior director-digital solutions.
He puts it more bluntly in a conference presentation entitled, “Your Website Sucks,” during which he offers critical-eye home-page improvement advice, the result of his numerous visits to various websites, including automakers’ and dealers’.
“Dealer websites have improved but the user experience lags,” he says, crediting help from site-building vendors for the betterment. “Some dealers use third parties to create websites, but then add to them and make them worse. Remember, that’s your digital storefront.”
Consumers love digital configurators on automaker websites. Those allow people to “build” and then locate a vehicle in inventory. But those tools sometimes are cumbersome “primarily because of the complexity of the vehicle itself,” Aggarwal says, citing various trim levels, options, price differences and potential incentive offerings.
Then there is the matter of whether the digitally built vehicle actually exists on a local dealer lot.
Moreover, configuring a vehicle on a small smartphone screen can be a real pain, Aggarwal says.
Many automaker websites once displayed inventory, a single dealership at a time. That’s changed to a more collective showing. “It wasn’t a technical problem, it was a political problem,” he says of the switch to the communal approach.
Slow-functioning websites are especially irksome to users. Aggarwal quotes an Emerson Consumer Lab report that says: “The level of stress caused by mobile delays was comparable to watching a horror movie.”
He offers these “quick hits” for enhancing a website:
· Make it visual and include the use of content-rich “cards” or display boxes for an organized look.
· Keep it focused so the most important information is highlighted and provides “instant answers.”
· Consider personalization. “We’re seeing trials of this in the auto industry,” Aggarwal says. Ford.com asks users who leave and later return to the website, “Do you want to pick up from where you left off?”
Some automotive websites offer chat functions. But if those were a runaway success “they’d all be using it,” Aggarwal says.
He dissuades use of chat unless “a robust customer service (such as a call center) is behind it.” (Amit Aggarwal, left)
Aggarwal is a recognized subject-matter expert for website user experiences across a variety of industries. He holds a MBA from UCLA and a BS in computer science and cognitive science with a concentration in human-computer interaction from Stanford University.