website navigation best practices

Let’s say Honda, Nissan, or Kia was running ads for a new vehicle.  Your dealership has that vehicle on the car lot.  A potential buyer sees the ad and gains interest in the vehicle.  They grab their phone, do a search for “Honda dealership near me”, and find your website.  What is their visit like?  How was the user experience? Does your website guide them down the path to eventually purchasing?  Did you follow website navigation best practices?

Mike and Charles tackle the combination of user experience and website navigation in the automotive industry.

 

It’s important to keep in mind the users behavior, search intent, and overall experience. A proper user experience is imperative to the generation of the lead.  It is usually the difference between good service and bad service regardless of the industry.

In the automotive industry, the website user experience can make or break a new car sale.  

7 User Experience Tips For Better Website Engagement

  1. Provide Helpful Internal Links.
    The user is likely researching vehicles and so you want to link to resources that can help with the experience.  Links to financing, to test drive videos, reviews, are helpful links.  You may want to link to the OEM, and other resources that will help the user, and add SEO value to your website.Don’t confuse links with call to actions.  These internal links should help inform the user, but not take away from the main CTA’s. 
  2. Improve The Content Flow.
    You can determine what pages get the most traffic on your website with tools like Google Analytics.  More importantly, you can learn which pages lead to new car sales.  For example, a website visitor could land on your website home page from a Google search for “Honda dealership near me” or a similar term.  From the home page, they may visit your search page and begin looking at vehicles.  After selecting a vehicle, they’ll end up on that vehicle page. With this basic level of understanding about your website traffic, you can improve the way your content flows and cater it to the user experience.  Once the visitor is on the vehicle page, we continue to guide them with call to actions like schedule a test drive, or get financing.The content should guide the website visitor down the path you want them to take.Keep in mind that most of these actions will likely be taken with the swipe and tap of the users thumb, on their mobile device.  Using buttons and strategic links makes this process easier. 
  3. Limit Plug-ins & Pop Ups.
    You want to provide a helpful experience to the user.  When the website has too many distractions, it can become intrusive.  It is similar to dining at a restaurant and dealing with your waiter.  A good waiter will observe from a distance and then provide service when the time is right.  They’ll wait until your cup is almost empty before refilling.  They won’t interrupt you mid bite to ask you a question.  Your website user experience should be similar.  We all hate random newsletter subscription pop ups. These additional website features can help with conversions when used properly.  Overuse will deter website visitors from engaging and slow your website down which is detrimental to your search engine optimization. 
  4. Simple Navigation.
    When discussing user experience, it normally starts with the website navigation.  This is the main website menu that accesses most of, if not all of the website pages.  Website navigation best practices have grown and changed over the years.  Now, we have mega menus that do a great job of highlighting different website sections.  We have drop downs, and fly out menus, that work well on desktops. The challenges with website navigation tend to happen on mobile devices.  Expandable menus, sub menus, and the like become a hassle when using your fingers and thumbs. We’ve actually released a new product called Nav. 2.0.It was designed to address the common website navigation mistakes that most businesses make.  It has built in features that make navigating the website easier for the user.  One of my favorite features will lock the background when the menu is expanded.  This forces the user to choose a menu option, and not accidentally click on any elements on the page.The reality is, good navigation on a website will easily guide visitors to the pages they are looking for.
  5. Audit Your Menu Regularly.
    While on the subject of navigation, be sure to audit your menus.  Some websites may have a few different menus.  A top menu, main menu, sidebar menu, footer menu, and more.  These menus will contain pages that may need to be adjusted.  If your menu includes event pages that would promote coming events, be sure its updated.  If you all aren’t having events, remove the page.  Update the about page, or history page, with the latest company information.  Be sure to present content by order of importance. When auditing the menu, you’re checking to make sure that the pages are accurate, up to date, and there are no broken links.  The flow of pages is consistent with the overall goal you want to reach. 
  6. Focus On Speed.
    The speed of the website has a direct impact on the user experience. How fast does this website load?  How quickly can I navigate through it?  How long does it take me to find what I’m looking for?  Did it guide me down the path I needed to take? Positive answers to those questions will inherently mean that the website user experience is great.We can’t move on from speed without mentioning Google. Page speed is so important to ranking that they have tools and services that audit how fast your website is, and what could make it faster.  Page speed and user experience are key factors to improving search engine rankings.
  7. Use Videos.
    Video is the fastest way to share information with website visitors.  Video has more engagement than plain text.  When considering giving the user the best experience, we know video is the primary tool.  When speaking of the automotive industry, walk around videos, and test drive videos, and even testimonial videos definitely help the user experience.Wheels TV is a video add on product we offer to certain dealerships.  It allows us to add high quality, manufacturer specific videos, to each dealership website.  They are branded, load extremely fast, and provide a ton of value. Aside from increasing on page engagement, video has other SEO benefits as well.

The website user experience is directly affected by the navigation.  Be sure to follow website navigation best practices when improving your user experience.

If your dealership, repair shop, or body shop is having website challenges, be sure to schedule an appointment with us.