Guest post by Eleanor Hecks.
Effective user experience (UX) design is just as important for B2B websites as it is for consumer businesses.
To move customers from awareness to conversion, B2B business sites must be designed with a clear information architecture; provide compelling messaging and details about products and services; and establish the company’s credibility.
This is why UX design is so important for B2B businesses. Here’s how these companies can leverage UX design to gain a competitive advantage.
The Importance of UX Design for B2B Businesses
When deciding on what product they want to buy to fulfill a need, new prospects and current clients must make several decisions. They evaluate a company’s line of products, assess its industry expertise, and look for trust signals that indicate the business’s reputability.
Good UX is often one of those trust signals. It’s a sign that the site owner has put serious thought into their prospective customers’ information needs and buying process.
For B2B businesses, where reputation and professionalism are often key factors in a customer’s purchase decisions, this trust signal can be a major advantage.
Business customers also typically put a great deal of research and consideration into the purchases they make. Often, these clients aren’t just buying an item or service — they’re potentially laying the groundwork for a business partnership that may have a major impact on the future of their company.
Even small changes to a website’s design can have a major impact on user behavior. These design “nudges,” like automated secure password generators and push notifications, can sometimes completely change how users interact with a site or service.
Why B2B Companies Sometimes Deprioritize UX Design
A significant portion of online UX design guidance is written with B2C companies in mind. Often, there’s a great deal of emphasis placed on the customer’s emotional journey. This journey doesn’t matter nearly as much to B2B companies.
The customer journey, which is important to UX design, can also be harder to track for B2B businesses.
With fewer customers compared to B2C businesses, B2B companies naturally have less information on how customers move from awareness to conversion — meaning fewer insights and generalizations from site analytics to apply to your Internet marketing and design strategies.
The journey also tends to be much longer for B2B customers. Their purchases generally aren’t impulse buys; they are carefully researched and discussed by buying teams.
As a result, much UX advice online isn’t practical for B2B businesses. But UX design itself remains critical to effective online marketing and communications.
What Does Good B2B UX Design Look Like?
Effective UX design begins with considering site design and content from a sales prospect’s perspective.
A B2B site with good UX design will achieve a few key goals:
- Content that meets the information needs of the target audience;
- Regulatory and pricing details that are clear; and
- Site navigation that makes it easy for potential customers to find the information they need.
Plan UX Design for Site Content
Practical, informative content is just as important for B2B businesses as it is for consumer-focused companies. Useful content helps draw in customers, demonstrates your team’s knowledge, shows which segments your company serves, and provides value to visitors before they commit to a purchase.
B2B businesses need to strategically plan their content differently than B2C businesses, however. Your content should address the full range of customers you work with — targeting different segments, different members of the buying team, customer needs, and stages of the customer journey.
Make Important Information Easy to Access
Business customers need certain information — such as details on pricing, certifications, and regulations — before they can commit to a purchase.
Making this information easy to access can make a business seem more trustworthy. Accessibility of key details like these can also encourage visitors to continue researching a business.
Streamline Site Navigation and Information Architecture
Easy-to-use site navigation and strong information architecture (IA) are both important for B2B business sites.
Visitors should be able to find the information they’re looking for quickly and easily. The site’s design should also guide visitors to relevant information, provide context for the content they find, and ensure that information is provided with an intuitive order and structure.
Navigation headers are an example of how businesses provide effective site navigation. These headers can offer quick access to critical information, like pages containing contact details, the site’s content archive, and the business’s product or service catalog.
Using Site Analytics and User Behavior Metrics to Improve UX
After implementing basic best practices for UX design, businesses will need to make changes that meet the specific needs of their audience.
Visitor behavior data can help B2B businesses improve every aspect of their UX design. This information will typically come from site and ecommerce platform analytics tools.
Businesses can identify pages to improve by reviewing key metrics. This includes tracking the bounce rate, time on page, new vs. returning visitors, and conversion rate for key landing pages.
Affinity maps and diagrams are a good way of structuring user behavior data to show designers where users are getting lost, losing interest, or otherwise moving away from a conversion.
These maps can also help guide businesses towards more effective data gathering strategies — like site analytics or active user testing.
Why UX Design Is So Important for B2B Businesses
User experience can have a major impact on customer purchase decisions. In order to grow their customer base and develop new business relationships, B2B enterprises need strong site UX design.
Design best practices and data analytics will both help any business improve site UX. Implementing features that improve site navigation, developing effective content, and making important information as accessible as possible can all help make site UX better.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a prominent digital marketing agency prior to becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and pup, Bear.