When it comes to manufacturer Web sites, style is at least as important as substance.
A well-designed Web site can improve a consumer's attitude toward a manufacturer and increase chances that online prospects will visit its dealerships. That is the conclusion of a consumer survey by AMCI, a Vista, Calif., vehicle testing company, and Eisbrenner Public Relations of Troy, Mich.
But before automakers cook up glitzy online visual and sound effects, they should know what consumers want in a Web site design: simplicity.
If online shoppers have to wait for flashy graphics and are jarred by distracting audio, it could drive them away from the site and the manufacturer.
To a consumer, a strong Web site design is one that is easy to navigate, spells out pricing and finance options, provides easy-to-find model specifications and has a simple way to order brochures. Abide by those rules, and the consumer likely will revisit the site and recommend it to others.
Based on these criteria, consumers ranked BMW's Web site No. 1, followed by Volvo, Toyota, Mercedes, Jaguar, Porsche, Mercury, VW, Isuzu and Hyundai.
In other dot-com news:
Irvine, Calif., online buying service Autobytel.com has enlisted e-LaSer, a European company that helps businesses develop repeat business online, to establish programs that boost repeat business for Autobytel.com in Europe.
Cobalt Group of Seattle added 103 dealerships to its dealer clientele during the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando, Fla. Cobalt recently launched two NADA-endorsed Web site packages and is developing an Internet portal that will link NADA members with potential sales prospects. The software company now has 5,200 dealer customers.
Donna Harris can be reached at [email protected] or at (202) 662-7218