A self-help programme for your B2B website

A self-help programme for your B2B website

In the B2B world, we are often our own worst enemies when it comes to the effectiveness of our website.  Rife with subjective, self-serving content we end up designing pages that appeal to ourselves as opposed to our customers.  According to Jacob Nielsen, who the New York Times is calling “the guru of website usability,” we have about 10 seconds to appeal to users before they leave our site – maybe less.  And yet, in many cases, we find missing several basic requirements of an effective B2B website. 

The hard truth?  There is an acute lack of consumer usability and interaction in our websites.  If you fear that your B2B company may be at risk of falling subject to the aforementioned, you are not alone and help can be just a few steps away.  Consider this a self-help guide for your B2B website -- without the cliché mantras.

7 Steps to Website Recovery and Betterment

Consider First Impressions

Your website is your face to the online world and first impressions are key.  A website needs to represent who you are and what you offer.  First time visitors are seeking assurance and credibility; convey that there is a stable, physical business behind your website and that it’s a company they want to do business with.

Be Forthright and Sincere

A central theme for most self-improvement programmes is honesty, and it’s no different in the digital world.  Setting the tone of your website to be one of openness and integrity will only validate your company to your site visitors.  This is an opportunity to build a relationship between customer and brand.  Including “About Us” or “Our Mission” pages will humanise your business and clearly demonstrates your value to the intended audience.

Make it Easy to Use

Bad navigation equals a high bounce rate.  The last thing you want to do is scare off potential buyers all because your site is confusing.  Make sure your visitors can find what they are looking for quickly and easily – a simple, consistent and straightforward design will ensure a higher number of conversions.

Update Your Content Frequently

Regularly updated content keeps your page fresh and gives your customers reason to continue visiting your site.  Whether it is news, a promotion or a change in policy, your customers feel well-informed and your brand stays front of mind.  Updated content not only appeals to your customers but benefits your SEO.  Search engines record how often a website is modified -- the more you update, the more they rank your site, ensuring you maintain high visibility within searches.

Differentiate Your Design

Visual branding is what is going to set you and your product apart from your competitor.  A good B2B website design can create atmosphere as well as consistency in identity and can further provide framework to support the functional requirements a site needs.  Use templates for different parts of your site and put some thought and consideration into typography, graphics and photography– things that are going to make a page pop.

Build UX Driven Landing Pages

It is important to recognize that user experience (UX) is a key part of branding.  User experience is how the visitor feels when navigating through a website and how they may respond -- physically (actions taken), intellectually and emotionally.  A positive UX can be achieved by combining creative and functional design activity with accessibility, usability, information structure and user interface design.   The way a consumer interacts with a website will actually help determine whether or not they complete the desired action.  A positive experience will build trust and generate loyalty from existing users and the ability to garner new traffic from viral referrals.

Test, Test, Test Some More

Test before you launch.  Test after you launch.  Continue to test as long as your website is up and running.  Pre-launch testing should reveal whether a system is even ready to go live.  Does it work, is it usable?  From there you can test that what has been built is what was envisioned.  Employing basic testing can only improve your optimisation.

Steve Ballantyne is a B2B marketing specialist and managing director of BallantyneTaylor. Email him at steve@ballantynetaylor.co.nz.