To Build a Better Website, Think Like Your Website Visitors
Had the opportunity recently to meet with a very strong local firm doing business throughout the Midwest regarding the new website they were planning. Even with all of The Net Impact’s experience in building International B to B sites (examples: KMT Waterjets, TricorBraun, Bausch and Lomb Storz) the first meeting with a prospect is always filled with some surprise. This is especially true in a group meeting.
Usually, someone at the table is almost solely interested in appearance. Someone is interested in upkeep. Functionality, search engine optimization, hosting, “cool” features and of course…cost, are all out there for discussion. In the end though, everyone has the same goal, a website they can be proud of.
What I have found is that many times these meetings need a reset. Instead of jumping right into the discussion of what the new website will look like, act like or be built in, why not discuss what the website is supposed to do? If you are like most of our clients, you want your B to B site to accomplish three big goals. 1) Represent and further the brand experience online 2) Make it easy for your team and your current customers to interact online 3) Generate new business.
In order to accomplish these goals, let’s discuss some elements of a better B to B site. Let’s break it down to “Brand” elements, “Visitor and Return Visitor” elements, “Business” elements and finally the “Please the User” elements. Some basics:
The “Brand” elements
- Establish credibility
- Display expertise
- Promote your team
- Display your relationships and testimonials
- Trophy case of awards, relationships and merit
- Show your values
- Promote the activities of business
The “New Visitor” elements
- Easy 411 on home page
- FAQ area that is written by customer service
- One click information access to products and services
- Case studies related to their industry
- Short and easy request forms for follow-up
- Demos that are easy to find and understand. (Interesting also helps right?)
- Supportive documents and information for “doers” (those that need your product)
- Supportive documents and information for “buyers” ( those that sign-off on the order)
The additional “Returning Visitor” elements
- Customer portal with purchase history
- Project or shipping updates for current clients
- Easy reorder capability
- Announcements for any specials or new product releases
- Online service access or service request tracker
The “Business” elements
- Easy to find and fill out “Contact Us” forms, “Request a Quote” forms and phone numbers
- Online RFP support may be good for your industry
- “Sign-up” for newsletter, product updates, trade show activities or industry news
- Lead nurturing and follow-up plan, maybe beginning with integration into your CRM
- Multiple ways to contact the company or their representative
- Analytics throughout for planning site changes and improvements. Yes you will have some.
- Search engine optimized landing pages to generate traffic (of course)
- A page testing plan to improve conversion (Google Optimizer is pretty cool)
- Coordination plan for “offsite” and “onsite” marketing efforts with supporting landing pages
The “Please the User” elements
- Flash, video and major graphic features are fine but…do they serve the user and improve their experience?
- Easy navigation. (We call this a Traffic Based Design) Get the visitor what they want in no more than three clicks. Which means..
- Planned path though the site to goal pages with “calls to action” by visitor type
- Product tables where required with easy search and sort
- Easy to find contact info, site search capability and site map
Planning out your new website elements is well worth the effort. As you do, remember to “think like your visitors” in order to better promote your business online, generate traffic and generate leads.