More auto brands upgrade Web site technology for all devices

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More than 20 percent of auto manufacturers have launched Web sites that implement responsive design technology -- technology that allows shoppers to view the same Web site content across tablets, smartphones and desktop computers, J.D Power said in a recent survey.

The number of brands that utilize the technology has dramatically increased in the last six months. Last summer, J.D. Power said only Lexus' Web site had responsive design. Six months later, the Web sites for Audi, Jaguar, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Mini and Porche also had adopted the technology.

While more manufacturers may be using responsive design in Web sites, the J.D. Power survey doesn't necessarily prove a correlation between Web site satisfaction and responsive design.

Of the 16 brands that exceeded the industry average for Web site satisfaction, just three had sites that used responsive design. The other four brands using the navigational framework fell below the average satisfaction rate.

"Some of the brands that are using responsive design are finding problems when shoppers view their site on a tablet or smartphone and not necessarily on a laptop or desktop," Arianne Walker, senior director of automotive media and marketing for J.D. Power said in a phone interview. "But on sites that do use responsive design, we don't see the drop in satisfaction from desktop to laptop that other Web sites see."

The semiannual study, now in its 15th year, measures the usefulness of manufacturers' Web sites during new-vehicle shopping by examining four key measures: information/content, navigation, appearance and speed.

For the second consecutive year, Acura topped all brands with the best Web site satisfaction score, 859, followed by Jeep, 851, and Infiniti, 850. Five American brands exceeded the industry average Web site ratings: Jeep, 851, Cadillac, 844, Dodge, 836, Buick, 832 and Chrysler, 828. Ram came in at the industry average of 822 out of 1000.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had four brands finish above industry average -- Jeep, Fiat, Dodge and Chrysler -- and one at average in the survey, Ram -- but none of those brand sites uses responsive design.

"[FCA] uses a design template across all of their brands that works really well," Walker said. "It is modified for some brands, like truck sites that need more options. But they carry a similar layout and color scheme and they get people the info they want, when they want it, without having to slow down the site to do it."

You can reach Sean Gagnier at sgagnier@crain.com.


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