Guest post by Ian Loew.
Building a website for a B2B business is much different from designing a B2C site. One of the most critical differences is that B2B websites are designed for longer sales cycles.
They also need to address the needs and concerns of multiple members of a buying team, rather than appealing to an individual. Tactics that work for B2C won’t necessarily work for B2B sites because of these differences.
Your site will almost certainly be one of many websites your prospects will visit as they look for a product or service that offers the most value. Your website should stand out from your competition by showing site visitors that your business is competent, reliable, helpful, knowledgeable, and current. Here are six B2B website design best practices that are important to know about.
1. Focus on user experience.
User experience (UX) is one of the most important aspects to focus on when creating a website that converts. UX deals with how your website is designed and laid out for easy user navigation and minimal frustration. A website that offers an optimal user experience, making it easy to find required information, is one of the most critical B2B website design best practices.
Your prospects are probably checking out your website between meetings. A slow-loading page or a website that’s hard to navigate won’t convince them that your business is worth their money. On the other hand, a well-designed website UX goes a long way in impressing potential clients. Here are six ways you can optimize your website’s user interface (UI).
- Design for vertical scrolling. It’s second nature for most users to navigate a page by scrolling through it, top to bottom.
- Use imagery and visuals to create an engaging website.
- Measure how long it takes your pages to load. See if pictures are instantly showing and if subpages load quickly. Every millisecond counts.
- Minimize site downtime. Every minute your website is down is potentially lost money (and damage to your brand reputation). You want your website to be up as close as possible to 24/7.
- Check for and fix any broken links within your domain.
- Check your daily traffic. If you’re receiving more traffic than your website can handle, upgrade your back end.
The user experience should be the foundation of your website development. Focus on your UX, and your website will create an engaging experience for prospective B2B clients.
2. Be mobile-friendly.
While B2B site visitors most typically visit your website using a laptop, a significant amount of website traffic also comes from mobile devices. According to the Boston Consulting Group, queries made using devices were expected to make 70% of all B2B queries by 2020 (though for many B2B sites, it’s still closer to 20%; your mileage may vary). If your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’ll have difficulty generating and converting leads.
To make your website mobile-friendly:
- Use a responsive design: These designs automatically change the size of website elements such as text, images, and backgrounds to fit different screen sizes.
- Shorten the page loading time: Slow page load speed results in higher bounce rates for mobile users. For WordPress sites, use a plugin that automatically optimizes your pages for faster loading.
- Optimize your images: Instead of using large images that require a lot of zooming in and out, resize and crop your images so the most essential elements are easily visible.
In addition to offering a better experience to your site visitors, optimizing your website’s layout for mobile will help attract more traffic. Google now considers the mobile-friendliness of websites in its ranking algorithm. If your B2B website is optimized for mobile devices, it has a better chance of ranking highly.
3. Showcase your expertise.
Your level of industry expertise can be the factor that makes your visitors choose you over other vendors, making it essential for your website to effectively showcase your knowledge. For example, our website features screenshots of our clients’ websites before and after we’ve redesigned them:
On the other hand, website design for manufacturing companies can focus on product use cases, user stories, and case studies. Here are five useful tips for B2B website layout to attract and retain visitors:
- Keep headers short and brief. Let succeeding sections of your website elaborate on header statements.
- Feature your unique selling propositions (USPs) immediately alongside your product or service or immediately after. Your USPs or unique value propositions (UVPs) are what makes your offerings stand out and give your prospects reasons to choose you over competitors.
- Visually showcase your most significant projects. A visual portfolio displays your capabilities and gives visitors an idea of what to expect.
- Feature notable brands and personalities you’ve worked with.
- Collect user testimonials and display them towards the bottom of your pages. Visitors should see these testimonials only after they have a good understanding of what you can do.
Demonstrating your company’s expertise through your website will help you land more projects with other businesses. Having a great website makes it more likely your current customers will send referral traffic from their contacts in need of your services.
4. Drive leads through premium content.
Producing and promoting compelling lead magnets is another B2B website design best practice. You may start by creating an ebook that provides helpful information for leads. By offering the ebook in exchange for site visitors’ contact information, you can establish your credibility and boost your lead generation.
Here are five tips for creating a compelling downloadable lead magnet:
- Invest time in your lead magnet: If you’re writing from scratch, research the content of your lead magnet thoroughly. Alternatively, you may take existing blog content and repurpose it into book form.
- Aim for more than 50 pages: Your prospects should feel like they’re getting the quality of a paid course for free.
- Get expert opinions: You are showcasing your knowledge, so include updated, accurate insights for your ebook.
- Reflect your experience: Readers relate better to real-life situations.
- Use visual elements: Incorporate relevant graphs and infographics into your content to help your prospective customers visualize the concepts better.
Following these steps will create a premium ebook for which your sales prospects will gladly exchange their contact information. Once you’ve gathered a list of emails from your downloadable lead magnet, use email tracking software to monitor whether your emails are being received and read.
5. Include educational content.
Creating fresh, authoritative blog content will help your website rank highly for relevant search queries. If you produce enough of these educational blog posts, B2B buyers will see your company as a supplier with a lot of expertise, as well as being more visible in search. Below are example articles about B2B website design:
Here are quick tips for writing high-quality blog posts:
- Understand your market and what your target prospects are likely searching for. Joining Facebook groups and communities will give you a lot of insight.
- Answer questions your prospects commonly ask. If you’re a web design agency creating websites for restaurants, relevant articles may be: “How to Market Your Food Online” or “Five Types of Marketing Collateral Your Restaurant Needs.”
- Conduct keyword research to see competitive and non-competitive topics. As a startup, write blog posts for long-tail keywords since these are less competitive but more specific.
- Use visuals in your blog posts. Not only will these make reading through them more engaging, but imagery also makes the content more digestible.
Having a blog attracts a quality audience that is likely to convert. Providing free information that’s helpful to your prospective clients builds trust in your brand.
6. Stick to your brand guidelines.
You’ve followed all the previous steps, great! You now have an engaging website, but is it clearly tied to your brand in the minds of prospects?
Your visitors should be able to feel your brand as they navigate your website. There’s a noticeable difference between walking into a Starbucks and walking into a KFC. Your website should create that type of distinction from other B2B companies when visitors land on your site.
- Create a brand identity that your team will always reference.
- Use brand colors and shapes throughout your website.
- Maintain your brand’s tone of voice. Is it conversational, friendly, corporate?
- Use brand fonts and typography, but don’t compromise readability.
Not only will this reinforce your company’s branding, it will also help your prospects remember you—not just “that company that did a project for Amazon.”
An effective B2B website helps establish your brand’s credibility and lands you more buyers. B2B website design best practices start with focusing on user experience, including optimizing your website for mobile devices and ensuring fast page load speeds.
Show your visitors that you are the most capable of their options. Feature your USPs, your most significant projects, big brands you’ve worked with, and testimonials. Don’t forget branding when creating your website’s layout.
Create a lead magnet that visitors can download for free. This will allow you to use email marketing to nurture your email list. An informative blog will help your website rank for high-volume keywords in your industry segment to build your brand credibility.
Following these steps will allow you to create a B2B website that ultimately engages and converts your visitors.
Ian Loew is a web entrepreneur and inbound marketing expert, and the Owner & Head of Business Development of Lform Design. After four years of helping Fortune 500 companies at MGT Design, Ian embarked on his freelance career before establishing Lform Design in 2005. He leads a team of creative professionals to deliver inspired online experiences via modern, responsive websites that reflect his clients’ core values. When not at the helm, Ian can be found mountain biking with friends or spending time with his family.