While B2C companies have long realized the value of sales-ready designs to encourage consumer engagement, B2B websites are lagging. Only recently have B2B companies started seeing the value in changing up their design to better suit their buyers’ needs.
So what’s the excuse?
Unlike B2C consumers, it’s uncommon for B2B leads to make impulse buys. Let’s be realistic—it’s not likely someone is going to stumble onto a software platform’s website, armed with only the information provided by content on the Internet, and make a large purchase via a shopping cart. B2B customers are making a greater investment and taking an increased risk, therefore they usually want to speak with a salesperson before they commit.
But that doesn’t mean that a B2B website design should just be a static brochure. Even though the website might not be involved in the drafting of a contract or the physical exchange of money, it is still a salesperson.
How is this possible?
It’s no secret that today’s buyer contacts a sales rep at a stage much further down in the sales funnel than they would have 10 years ago, meaning the content on your website is doing a lot of the legwork that would have before been the job of your sales team. Instead of asking a salesperson what your product/service is all about, he or she is referring to your website, reading your blog and downloading premium content offers. In his book, To Sell Is Human, Daniel Pink has called this phenomenon the age of information parity in sales, where the consumer has as much, if not more, information about the product he or she is buying than the salesperson does.
This means that the buyers of today are much more educated. Fortunately, if that education is taking place on your website, your company will be better positioned to establish brand preference at a very early stage of the buying process. It’s safe to say having an amazing B2B website design is more important than ever!
So what does this mean for your B2B website redesign?
Do your homework
Before you begin to think about your website’s design it’s imperative to do some research to make sure you are staying true to your brand personas and centering your content around your business’ goals. We recommend developing a clear target buyer persona that way you have something to reference as you write content and design your website. Focus on meeting their needs and solving their pain points.
Often the objective of B2B website design is to convert visitors into leads. Aligning the wants and needs of your business with the wants and needs of your customer is a great way to ensure your website is accomplishing this goal.
What do customers want? Every customer is different but, seventy-six percent of consumers say the most important factor in a website's design is ease of use, and the ability to find the information they need.
What do businesses want? While every business has unique, more specific wants they all seek more sales, a higher conversion rate, better quality leads and loyalty.
And how does your B2B website design meet all these needs? With an easy-to-navigate structure, advanced functionality, dynamic content, and offers that align with your target personas.
Focus on user experience
After you establish who you are as a brand and who you want to attract, you need to think about what exactly it is you want visitors to do when they get to your page. Research from the Nielsen Norman Group has shown that a mere 58 percent of B2B websites had successful user experiences.
Do you want your visitors to check out your products? Would you prefer they visit your blog or download a premium content offer? Establish your goals and the anticipated conversion paths before you start designing your website.
Laying out a wireframe for a website is the best way to define a visitor’s flow. It also helps the designer build the pages. In some cases, it might even make sense to conduct user-experience research on your wireframes. Even though it’s tempting to skip the foundation-building aspects of a website and jump right into design, we can assure you, wireframes are a critical initial step in creating an effective user experience.
Write like a human
Think of your website as part of your sales strategy and use it to introduce buyers to the solution you provide for their pain points, while explaining why your business is best at providing this. This doesn't mean you need to cram industry jargon onto every page. Use the same vocabulary that your buyer personas use in the solutions they're seeking. Conversion XL provided a great example of this in a post examining B2B website best practices. As you can see, the value proposition presented in Techport 13's website after its redesign was drastically different and improved than the value proposition on its old site:
Don’t overload with information. Rather, state what your business offers simply and clearly.
Building your business and gaining trust is all about developing relationships. This can be done through content production, such as having a great blog. But effective design plays a big role as well. Here are a few of our favorite ways to accomplish great design:
Use heat maps to determine information placement: It's been shown that visitors use one of two distinct reading patterns when visiting websites. By tailoring your content placement and structure to these two patterns, you can be sure that the most important information is being conveyed clearly.
Minimalist design: "Minimalist (functionalist) design is used to create an uncluttered, easily navigable experience for the end-user through deliberate use of color, content and layout," says New Breed's senior designer and developer, Pete Emerson.
Ditch stock photography: There is a growing movement and community of designers/photographers that provide free (as well as subscription service) photography that looks much more genuine than most anything you would find on traditional stock photo sites. A couple of our go-to sites are:
Use consistent calls to action: Ensure that your calls to action across the site are using a consistent color and design. By doing this, your visitors will always understand where to look to take that next step and what elements on the page are clickable and which are not.
Highlight social engagement: Sharing and responding to your content not only encourages engagement, but it also boosts your page rank and increases your market reach. Include icons on your homepage for the social media networks you are active on and also after each blog post making it easy for your readers to share on social.
Remember your brand
One of the most important pieces of creating that user experience and building trust is presenting a consistent branding.
Does your business have a style guide? Style guides touch on all aspects of your brand and establish the norm for colors, images, fonts, context of logo use and tone of the copy. Before you begin developing your website, writing your blog or even making social posts, it’s not a bad idea to establish a simple style guide.
Use responsive design
In today’s market with all the mobile devices that are out there you could almost argue that your website is being viewed more frequently on a mobile device than it is on a desktop or laptop computer. Taking that into consideration, it’s safe to say designing a website that utilizes responsive design is super important!
Some website-building platforms, including HubSpot, have responsive design built-in, which means your website will automatically be optimized as it best suits the device on which it is being viewed.
Some characteristics to incorporate into your B2B website design that will translate well in responsive views include:
- Simple design, but not dull
- Large, eye-catching calls-to-actions
- Big text (at the very least avoid small, hard to read fonts)
- Big buttons
- Plenty of whitespace
This is helpful in making sure the website design doesn’t look cluttered or becomes difficult to navigate when it’s optimized in a mobile device. Make sure to test your website on different types of devices as well as different browsers before you launch to work out any kinks.