These days, everyone seems to have an opinion about how websites should look like. So, we couldn’t just watch how this trend passed by. We like to get involved, especially when it comes to sharing opinions and thoughts. And as it happens, we take great pleasure in this particular topic. Given the fact that we are part of the e-Commerce market, crossing paths with different B2B websites is pretty normal for us. To tell you truth, even if this wasn’t the explanation, even if we weren’t part of the B2B market, we would still have an opinion, at least a personal one regarding the right website design. Websites, at first, seemed more like an online brochure, doing nothing else than explaining what a company did. No CTA, no complicated design, no great planning behind. Just a more complex calling card found online.
The surprisingly fast evolution of the e-Commerce market has really made things develop in this area as well. The website is no longer that simple online page that sometimes encounters errors and no longer function. Today, not only it is imperative to keep the website functioning at all times, but it is also a real tragedy when this fails to function. Because it can happen.
What we mean to say here is that the power of a website has increased significantly in the last few years, becoming a huge, sometimes the sole source of income for companies. Therefore, to ensure that your company is functioning adequately, watching over the functionality, design, responsiveness of your website is expected.
Luckily, we like sharing information. So, here are our views on the right design owned by a B2B website, because yes, B2B companies are special birds.
The time of the buyer
You might have heard this before. The buyer/customer/client/consumer is in control and everything revolves around his needs, expectations, desires. The customer is the one that tells you what you need to do, when and why, if given the chance of course. Sales team rely on the website to accomplish this goal and to build the first connection with potential clients. By doing so, by designing a website that actually responds to your customers, the entire sales process becomes simpler and a lot more profitable, plus the acquisition costs could be reduced.
So, the first rule of the day, which will most likely be the most important of them all, is that customer is the Supreme Being, your focus in both planning and actually designing.
In order for your website to function appropriately, as it has to perform certain tasks, you need the support and appreciation of your customers. That’s why before we can discuss strategies or planning, you need to make sure that your website is user-friendly. Making friends requires a hello first, right?
So, what you need to remember from this section is to keep your focus on the customer, no matter what. Customers come first in all aspects of your website.
What are your goals?
# Obtain traffic
# Engage visitors
How are you going to accomplish these goals?
There are two potential situations. You either have a website that is up and working or you have no website at all. Usually, having a website, even if it is not optimized properly, even if the design is not quite what one would expect from a B2B company, is an advantage in redesigning it. You have data, you have insights you can use in your advantage. The data you can collect from your existing website must be part of your research. It is crucial. You might not like it, you might even be ashamed of it, but try not to bury it somewhere. It is a treasure in terms of data and for the sake of your future website, use it!
Now, in the second situation, of not having a website, things might be a tad more complicated. Evidently, all great companies went through this type of situation and they surpassed it. So, no worries.
In this situation, research refers mostly to your competition. You can focus on your strong competitors, see how they have decided to divide and organize the information they want to share. Look at the color scheme, as well as their categories. Try to identify general aspects found in all cases, as well as special features, belonging to each one of your competitors.
Not that you have noticed the big names on your map of interests, look at smaller players, as they are equally important. Collect as many details as possible to understand the workings of the minds of your customers. Remember? You need to build a website for them so they can access it, feel comfortable while visiting it, find the content and overall design engaging, and ultimately grant your business with trust, becoming your client.
Research in the absence of a website should also include your market research, presuming that you have it.
Focus on your customers, know your competition and promote your strong points. This would be the idea behind the research.
A strategy is about finding a way to fulfill your goals. But do you know your goals? What exactly do you stand for?
The e-Commerce world is pretty rich in options, but there is still room for you. However, it won’t do you any good to keep on strategizing on and on, if you do not have elements that are unique. A value proposition is a must. First, it gives you the starting point in your strategy. Secondly, it allows customers to identify your business and to identify themselves with your business. For instance, if your business was focused on making things simple, a value proposition should reflect this aspect.
The great thing about value propositions is that they bring out your superpowers and in time, they shift from being promises to becoming ways to measure effectiveness and improvements. You pride yourself on making things simple. Is that visible on your website? Are customers finding what they need without hassle? Can you make things simpler?
Building your strategy is also about thinking ahead. So, even though it might seem a bit too early for this kind of work, you can rest assured that it’s just the right time. Visitors reach your website by means of keywords, those candies that Google likes so much. You want to plan your keyword strategy way before you start thinking about your design, because these can be reflected in your categories, afterward in your site-map and eventually in your page names, URLs and all content forms. Plus, since you are not the one that’s making the rules of the game, as you are simply following them, a solid keyword research might shade light upon where the customer’s interest is found.
So, apart from providing you with the means to be found on the great world wide web, you are given a few insights regarding your customers’ interests.
Once you have a shortlist of keywords and search terms, you can incorporate them in your design, marketing strategy to obtain consistency and effectiveness in terms of future results.
Each element part of your strategy has the obligation to lift the rest of them and together to create an effective website that functions perfectly and brings forward the optimum results.
Because the sitemap has the role to also join the customer in his journey on your website, you might want to simplify it a bit. We know and you know that content is king, and yes you need as much of it as possible. However, if the customer spends too much time on your website, without making a purchase, then you are in a bit of trouble.
For SaaS businesses, the sitemap must contain relevant categories such as the homepage, various landing pages, your blog, and the pricing page. These are all essential in the journey of your customer.
Now, to go back to the content issue. The drop-down menus although popular, they are not at all functional and effective. It’s only understandable that you want to display as much content as possible, but as it happens in life, too much may just be too much. Your customer has limited patience and you only have a few minutes to convince him of your professionalism and that you are a good choice, in fact, the only choice for his needs. Now, put yourself in the shoes of your customer. You read a short text that seems to lack in information. But you notice the drop-down menu. You click it and instantly, a huge amount of text appears in front of your eyes. Surely, just the sight of it tires you. So, instead of reading it, to find out what the advantages of working with that company are, you simply choose to go back to your google search and choose another company.
This is what most customers do, unfortunately, and even though you have created this impressive, convincing content strategy, sure to make the reader press the buy button, it will be of no use to you.
You need to plan a balanced, convincing content strategy that has sufficient details regarding your offer to make the reader accept your proposal, but short enough for him to have the necessary patience to go through the reading entirely.
Keep things simple. Make the navigation on your website to be a piece of cake, so your customer doesn’t get lost in information and keeps in mind all the essential details.
And before we head out to the next point on our list, there is just one thing we want to mention here. Now, to be completely honest, this is not a little thing. It’s actually quite big. You can build your website because of the existing need or you can build your website with the clear intention to grow.
When building a website with everything you need and you do not launch it unless every little detail is in place, you do have a better overview of your costs, but you might end up losing where it matters the most, your customers. By the time you launch an awesome website, you might discover that the trends and insights you based your entire research and planning are no longer valid. Your customers might have shifted interests, they may no longer be thrilled about the approach you have decided upon. Your product might be incredibly beneficial for customers, but as long as it is erroneously marketed, users just won’t buy.
The second strategy refers to prioritizing pages/sections. No one is saying to go against e-Commerce giants with a super simple, incomplete website.
The point here is launch as quickly as possible and optimize, improve on the way. The secret is to release a website version that does not look unfinished. Go for something simple and professional, and make sure you have your essential pages, homepage, pricing and so on.
There is nothing more exciting than design. Here is where you let your skills and talent take over. The first phase of design needs to be done using wireframes and actual content. Now before you panic, know that the content you will use doesn’t have to be the final version.
The page that will give you the biggest headaches of all is the homepage because your website opens up with it, your visitors see it first and it has to be catchy, but not too much, so your visitors will continue to discover the rest of the categories on your website.
Remember the value proposition we talked about in the beginning? Now, it’s time to announce it. Place it on your homepage and let everyone know what you are all about.
Avoid carrousels, as these have been proven bad for SEO. If you come up with a strong value proposition, then you are safe and you will soon see that a carousel is no longer necessary.
While we cannot tell you how to design your homepage as after all this is a personal choice, we want to tell you just this. The homepage is the first contact your customer has with your company. From now on, you will need to start building a relationship between yourself and the visitor in the hope that he/she soon turns into a customer.
Therefore, you need to think what would convince a customer to stay on your website and to discover even more facts about your products. Indeed, you need to build trust, scarcity and show commitment. In other words, you need customer testimonials, logos, have calls-to-action, and differentiate yourself through both the design and content.
We’re just going to say it from the start. Optimizing your website is a huge deal. It is an ongoing process that has the tendency to change from time to time, in fact, rather often, if you ask us. However, these are the rules of the game so you need to follow them if you plan on sticking around. While SEO is essential for your website, it cannot be covered and it shouldn’t be covered in a guide regarding website design. This has to be treated separately, as it will be.
Coming back to the issue, optimizing your website can be done through content, obviously, always using the keyword research you have initially done. Also, meta tags are just as important and whatever you hear left and right, mind your own business and create the meta tags.
Apart from presenting your product, going against your competition and mesmerizing users with your design abilities, your website needs to convert, right? Or was the most important goal of all? Nevermind. The bottom line is that it has to convert.
Calls to actions right? The same one or multiple? The same or different? On one page or on several? We could go on and on with this interrogation. Let’s cut it short. To convert, go with multiple, different calls-to-action, located on different pages, promoting either sales discussions or free trials, besides a traditional pricing plan. The idea is to catch as many customers, to convert and finally to gather feedback and data to make further improvements.
No one ever said that building a website is easy. Despite the fact that everyone does it, it certainly does not mean that it is an easy thing to do or that they are doing the right thing. It just means that sometimes, need puts pressure on us all and we compromise.
You shouldn’t, however.
Create an easy to navigate website, with a balanced content strategy, an adequately made sitemap, a website that converts because it is about the customer and his/her journey instead of aggressively promoting a product. Convince your customers, don’t bully them into buying.