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Ever been on a website, had trouble doing what you came there to do, and just left rather than trying to deal with it?
We all have.
We’re busy people. And that’s the point. People are too busy (or impatient) to try and sort out the issues of a website in order to get the job done. Not when there are other websites to offer them the same outcome with no hassle. And for dealerships, these usability mistakes and errors can cost a lot of money in potential sales lost to internet frustration.
We went ahead and listed some of the most common of these mistakes. If a dealership’s website is guilty of these, it means there’s probably a lot of money being lost.
Pagination, despite sounding like an uncomfortable medical procedure, just means breaking up content into pages (like Google does with search results). Google does this because displaying 198,400 results all at once would tank page load speed.
But pagination isn’t always a good idea. Pagination is cumbersome even on desktop, and becomes truly annoying on mobile. Our internal research (analyzing dealership websites nationwide) has shown that over 59% of website traffic comes from mobile, and with that many shoppers on mobile, pagination has to go.
Ever try to change the page of a paginated website on a mobile device? It’s pretty hard to do – especially when the button is tiny like on this website.
There are smoother, better ways to browse. No need to paginate when you can have infinite scrolling, which keeps load times short and sweet, while further content loads just ahead of the speed of a scrolling shopper.
‘Operation’ is a great board game, but nobody wants to play it while trying to click. A user shouldn’t need surgical precision to see the price of a car, or look at the next picture. Tiny clickable areas are a source of major frustration for users.
And once again, this only gets worse on mobile. If fate and genetics have given a shopper fingers fatter than a pencil, trying to tap the right place can become extremely frustrating.
Even worse are clustered clickable areas, which, particularly on mobile, meaning the changes of a user accidentally clicking the wrong thing and rage-quitting skyrocket.
Better to make clickable areas well-sized, well-spaced, and obvious. The chances of someone accidentally clicking are low, and it avoids the page-quitting rage of not being able to get where you want to go.
These screenshots hit both of the above usability mistakes, which isn’t uncommon. Pagination, tiny clickable areas (for clicking the ‘next’ button), and cluttered CTAs (ones that actually hide the pagination unless perfectly scrolled), make this a pretty perfect example of what not to do. Although, to be fair, the size (if not the positioning) of the CTAs is good.
We doubt you’re reading every single line of this. We’re not offended though. That’s how people consume online content for the most part. So we break this up into nice sections and paragraphs so you can get as much information as possible quickly and painlessly.
This is universally important on websites. People need to be able to scan something and determine if it warrants a closer look. Even with something as important as a car, people want a brief snapshot that gives them all the essential information, broken out and neatly displayed. They don’t want to have to hunt through 40 lines of cramped text to see what features the car does and doesn’t have.
It’s 2017 and Google is a part of everyday life now. From that, people have come to expect to be able to free-text search on a wide variety of websites. It’s particularly helpful on e-commerce sites, where the sheer magnitude of items available makes it insane to try to manually search.
The same applies to dealership sites. Filters can help narrow to a specific car, but they’re better for browsing. For a shopper that wants to find a specific car or model, a good search function is necessary. To forego a good search function is to ignore a whole sub-section of car shoppers, ones who might, in fact, be closer to purchase than their browsing counterparts.
Side note: when we say “good search function,” that adjective is important. A bad search function, one that can’t understand and compensate for basic spelling mistakes and errors, is just going to make people more frustrated.
A slow loading site is such a pity. It could have had the perfect answer to our question, the best possible rate for a hotel, the exact piece of research to support a claim, but we don’t wait to see because… well… we’re human. Humans are impatient, and the internet, with ever-shortening load times and lighting fast responses, has only made us more so.
This impatience means that users only give a page a fraction of a second to show. Even a fraction of a second can impact conversions, bounce rate, time on page, etc.
But boiled down, speed costs sales. Strange Loop has found that a one-second delay in page load can cost 7% in sales. If that isn’t a wake up call for slow sites, we don’t know what is.
In the age of advertising that bombards us wherever we go, people have developed a way to deal with this annoyance – ignore it, completely. The Nielsen Group calls this “banner blindness” and it means that anything that looks like a banner ad – even if it’s regular site content, is ignored. Eye-tracking studies show a huge blank space where these features are usually placed.
And it gets worse.
Fancy-formatting that looks like an ad is assumed to be an ad, and completely erased from the attention. Basically, our brains just say “don’t waste your time reading or paying attention to this” and we subconsciously ignore it.
Cheesy banners and overly-fancy formatting are more than just unattractive design choices; they’re surefire ways to get your audience to tune out. Professional, sophisticated design means that users will be able to see, and notice, all the important content that may have been ignored before.
Again, this actually checks the boxes for a couple different usability mistakes. First, the search tool isn’t a free-text search like shoppers expect, just a rudimentary filter option. And second, the banner here is useful information for shoppers – but it’s also a very obvious ad. It takes up prime real estate, only to be removed by banner blindness.
This is the gist of almost all usability sins. A website has to be useful. It has to make the goal (or goals) of the customer its utmost priority. A website has to be built for the customer, not the business. That’s the essence of usability, and when it is ignored, what should have been a pleasant and easy task becomes like trying to wade through waist-deep pudding: slow, pointless, and endlessly irritating (but without the chocolate-y goodness of pudding). Apologies if we’re getting a bit long-winded here, it’s just that we really love usability (and pudding, apparently).
When we see a usability problem, it’s often because the website designer was trying to do something fancy or make something look pretty, and forgot that usefulness has to be the main part of that.
So, you’ve probably noticed not all the mistakes above are that huge. Sadly, they don’t need to be. That’s just how usability works. One customer, one potential sale, has one little annoying experience, and they leave. They might not even notice it, there’s just a blip on their enjoyment radar, and they go elsewhere. That’s a lost sale. But that isn’t to say all hope is lost. Usability mistakes aren’t hard to fix, and the benefits of a new and improved site are immediately apparent.