At Autoweb Design, we have been designing and building car dealer websites, and other automotive websites, since 2004. Since day one, a lot has changed. Still, one thing that has remained constant is that we design websites to look great and perform for our dealership clients by generating leads through the website, over the phone or through showroom visits.
We offer three types of design services, covering a wide range of budgets, timescales and goals. If you need clarification on what the different kinds of design mean and which would be a good match for you, read on for more information. We also have an article in our learning section about this topic.
Let's dispel a myth before we get into the approach we are asked about most often (bespoke website design). You don't need to go bespoke to have a great-looking website that looks different to your competitors. All of our design services follow an approach based on adaptive design rather than the basic responsive or mobile-first approach often adopted in the industry. We will ensure that your website performs on all screen sizes and is found by search engines like Google, regardless of your chosen approach.
Bespoke design is all about creating a completely tailored website designed specifically for a particular dealership. Sometimes referred to simply as bespoke car dealer websites as a service, this approach is not a quick or cheap process, and if you find 'bespoke' offered cheap or fast, then the chances are it's actually a custom design - which is covered in the next section.
Bespoke design involves working closely with our talented web designers, who design the website from scratch, including all the design elements you want. This approach allows you to match your website with your brand perfectly and meet specific user experience needs. However, it's important to know that bespoke design takes time and resources because of the steps needed to encompass wireframing, prototyping, and the creation of high-fidelity design mock-ups.
Custom design is similar to bespoke design but works within an existing framework or platform. Instead of starting from scratch, web designers use established content management systems (CMS) or website builders as a starting point for their creative work. At Autoweb we have a platform called Fraternity which contains a wide range of automotive website elements which can be styled in a highly customised way, making them look unique.
With custom design, our designers can modify and adjust pre-existing templates, layouts, and elements within the Fraternity platform to meet your specific needs. This approach finds a balance between customisation and cost-effectiveness. It's especially beneficial for dealerships that want a unique website but have budget or time constraints that may not be met using a bespoke design.
Templated design is very popular with car dealers. It involves using pre-designed website templates or themes offering ready-made layouts, styles, and functionalities. Outside the automotive industry, templates are commonly available through content management systems (CMS) like WordPress or third-party marketplaces, but they don't usually have the integrations, functionality or future-proofing that you get by working with an automotive specialist agency. Typical examples where non-automotive solutions can fall down are the implementation and upgrading of vehicle stock feeds, finance calculators (e.g. iVendi, CodeWeavers), Part-exchange valuations or online vehicle sales/reservations.
Opting for template design provides a cost-effective and time-efficient solution.
Dealerships that use templates know that they are using a robust website layout trusted by many other dealers to perform. What's more, they don't need to invest time and effort (as well as money) in going through design ideas. Still, they can ensure the website is customised to reflect their colour scheme, logo and branding through content. With our automotive website template option, you can select from a range of pre-configured layouts and personalise them by incorporating your own content (text, images and other media), fonts and colour scheme. If you want a fast, high-performance and straightforward online presence without the need for extensive customisation, then this is the option for you. However, it's important to note that templates have limitations in terms of uniqueness and flexibility.
Each approach above follows a similar methodology. However, as you move from a bespoke design towards a template, more steps are completed for you based on data from testing across many dealerships. In the sections below, we outline what you can expect from a design process/onboarding process that marks the beginning of the creation and maintenance of your car dealer website.
Creating a bespoke website design involves several key steps that ensure the development of a unique and tailor-made online presence. Each stage contributes to successfully realising your vision and objectives from initial planning to final implementation. Below is an overview of the typical steps involved in the bespoke website design process with Autoweb Design:
The first step is to thoroughly understand your requirements, goals, target audience, and brand identity. This involves conducting interviews, gathering relevant information, and performing market research. The planning phase involves creating a project timeline, defining project milestones, and establishing clear objectives and deliverables.
Your website's structure, layout, and overall navigation are defined during this phase. Wireframing involves creating basic visual representations of the website's pages, outlining the placement of key elements and functionality. The information architecture determines the organisation of content and the website's hierarchical structure, ensuring intuitive user experiences, easy access to information, and an optimal architecture for search engines like Google and Bing.
Once the wireframes and information architecture are approved, the design phase begins. Our web designers create high-fidelity mock-ups, incorporating your branding, colour palette, typography, imagery, and other visual elements. Iterative feedback loops help refine the design until a final concept is agreed upon. The design is typically presented in the form of static visual files, providing a clear vision of your new website's appearance.
During this stage, content for the website is developed or gathered. This includes written copy, images, videos, and other media elements required to populate the website. Content is optimised for both user experience and search engine optimisation (SEO) purposes, ensuring it aligns with the overall design and messaging strategy.
At this stage, the website undergoes rigorous testing to ensure it functions flawlessly. Quality assurance (QA) processes include testing for cross-browser compatibility, responsiveness, broken links, performance, and overall functionality. Bugs and issues are identified, documented, and resolved to ensure a seamless user experience.
An SEO migration requires careful planning and execution to ensure that your website maintains or improves its visibility in search engine rankings from where your old website stood (if you have one). It involves implementing best practices to minimise any negative impact on organic search traffic and rankings while maximising the opportunity for improved SEO performance. With car dealer websites, this typically includes redirecting URLs, updating meta tags, optimising content, and ensuring proper indexing by search engines.
Once all testing and refinements are complete and the SEO migration is ready to be implemented, your website is prepared for deployment. This involves transferring the website to the live server, configuring domain settings, and performing final checks to ensure everything is in order. Your dealership website is then launched, making it accessible to your audience.
When you work with Autoweb Design, you are given an account manager who will work with you after the website is launched to ensure that your website is optimised going forwards. During regular reviews, your account manager will explain how your website has performed and discuss any opportunities for improvement with you.
The overall process for a custom dealership website design remains similar to the bespoke website design process. However, there are a few critical differences in the approach and emphasis. Here's an adaptation of the steps involved in a custom website design process:
In custom website design, the focus shifts towards selecting the pre-built website components and content blocks that align with your requirements. This is done via the creation of an onboarding document. The chosen elements provide a foundation for customisation. Customisation involves modifying the selected components and layouts to match your brand identity and design vision.
The visual design phase in a custom website design process emphasises adapting the existing web components and layouts to reflect your branding and design preferences. Designers work on modifying the chosen design elements, such as colours, typography, and imagery, to create a unique and great looking website that aligns with your vision.
A templated website design process differs from both bespoke and custom design approaches. Here's an adaptation of the steps involved in a templated website design process:
The initial step in a templated website design process involves selecting a pre-designed template from a library of options. Templates are ready-made designs offering various layouts, styles, and functionalities. The selection is based on your requirements and desired aesthetics, knowing that they are all designed to provide industry-leading performance backed by data.
Once a template is chosen, customisation begins, which is a process of configuration setting and can be completed very quickly. This process involves modifying the template's design elements, such as colours, fonts, images, and logos, to align with your branding and visual identity.
Our automotive website templates include configuration options for pre-built functionalities and plugins specific to the automotive industry. This step involves selecting and implementing the desired features, such as contact forms, finance calculators, social media integration, e-commerce capabilities, part-exchange features, live chat and more. We will guide you through these choices as part of your onboarding.