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2013 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study (MWES)--Wave 2 Results

2013 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study (MWES)--Wave 2 Results

By Jeff Youngs, July 25, 2013
The rapidly increasing use of tablets, as opposed to desktop and laptop computers, by new-vehicle shoppers to research their prospective purchases, appears to be influencing automaker website design, according to the just-released J.D. Power 2013 Manufacturer Website Evaluation StudySM--Wave 2. According to the study, automotive manufacturers are working to provide a website experience that is satisfying to both desktop and tablet users.

This semiannual study, now in its 14th year, measures the usefulness of automotive manufacturer websites during the new-vehicle shopping process by examining four key measures (in order of importance): information/content, navigation, appearance, and speed.

According to the study, tablet ownership among new-vehicle shoppers increases 145%, a substantial increase to 49% in 2013 Wave 2 from 20% in 2012 Wave 1. Overall satisfaction among tablet users remains stable at 815 (on a 1,000-point scale) in Wave 2, compared with 818 in Wave 1. Overall satisfaction among desktop users is 823. According to the study, 63% of desktop users find what they're seeking when they use a manufacturer's website search function.

Responsive Design to Auto Websites Addresses Device Proliferation
Notably, satisfaction among tablet users is lower than among desktop users in two key measures: navigation (804 vs. 817, respectively) and speed (812 vs. 831, respectively). These differences are due to most manufacturer websites being designed to look and function their best on a desktop computer. However, in response to the increased popularity of tablets, many automotive website designers are making efforts to increase their sites' functionality for both desktop and tablet users. While it was once common for manufacturers to direct tablet users to their mobile websites, dissatisfaction with the limited data available on those sites has impelled many manufacturers to offer a responsive design website that accommodates desktop, tablet, and mobile users.

"Launching a responsive design website requires a big commitment, requiring a major overhaul of the site, including extensive development time and cost by manufacturers," said Arianne Walker, senior director of media and marketing solutions at J.D. Power. "The resulting benefit, however, is that it provides a consistent user experience regardless of the screen size or device.

"There is definitely positive movement with the adoption of responsive design websites in the automotive industry. For example, during the study fielding period, Lexus's responsive design website was already active and Mercedes-Benz introduced responsive design on one of its model pages. This is not just a trend in automotive, it is being deployed by businesses in other industries, including global quick-service coffee chains, consumer and enterprise software manufacturers, and newspapers. J.D. Power believes this approach may be one good solution to address the challenge of accommodating device proliferation."

According to the 2013 MWES--Wave 2, Acura and Porsche (in a tie at 853 each) rank highest in overall satisfaction. Dodge (851) ranks third, followed by Infiniti and Jaguar (848 each).

About the Study
The 2013 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study--Wave 2 is based on responses from 10,196 new-vehicle shoppers who indicate they will be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 24 months. The study was fielded May 8, 2013, through May 22, 2013.

Additional Research:

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