2007 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study

By: Evander Klum

J.D. Power and Associates has recently announced that Hummer.com rank highest in usefulness to new-vehicle shoppers as compared to other manufacturer web sites. This semi-annual study measures the usefulness of manufacturer web sites especially in aiding customers in the process of searching for new vehicles. New-vehicle shoppers evaluate web sites in four key areas namely appearance, speed, navigation, and information/content.

Hummer was able to obtain the highest rank with an index score of 870 on a 1,000-point scale which is a 5-point improvement from Wave 1 of the study which was previously released in January of this year.

According to Steve Witten, Executive Director of Marketing/Media Research at J.D. Power and Associates, "A continuing focus on clear, simple navigation and crisp images and videos that demonstrate both the appearance of HUMMER's models, as well as the features included in them, allow HUMMER to regain the highest ranking for usefulness among automotive manufacturer Web sites." He also added, "This is the third time that HUMMER has achieved the difficult feat of outpacing the industry since the brand was first included in the study five years ago."

The other winners were Toyota, Jeep the producer of high quality , Suzuki, Land Rover, Lexus, and Kia respectively.

Witten further said, "The wide variety of manufacturers scoring significantly above the industry average demonstrates that these companies truly understand the needs and the limitations of their specific shoppers and have designed sites that showcase their models within those parameters. As manufacturers feel more empowered to take risks, there will be a further explosion in creativity on these Web sites. New and unique forms of interactive media, tools, and page design will emerge. But manufacturers must always balance that creativity with site usefulness and usability to help site visitors find the information they need easily at the same time that they are 'wowed' with the experience."

In the past MWES wave eight out of nine web sites that had undergone major redesigns have dropped in overall index scores. However in the current study all nine of the previously redesigned sites have improved in their overall index score but four of which has showed some very remarkable improvements particularly the Mitsubishi web site which has obtained an additional 38 points after it has experience the largest index score decline after being one of the redesigned sites in the last wave of the study.

Witten explained, "Newly redesigned Web sites often stumble because of the sheer size of the undertaking. In the process of trying to incorporate innovative tools and designs across an entire Web site, seemingly minor usability issues may be overlooked. However, continuous minor modifications to the original 'big' idea can pay off in huge strides. For example, Mitsubishi made small changes in navigation, usage of colors and shifting label positioning that made it much easier for shoppers to get to their desired information quickly."

The 2007 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study-Wave 2 is based on evaluations gathered from 10,865 new-vehicle shoppers between April and May 2007.

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