An assumption we experience all too often in the web design industry is that we approach all web design projects in the same way. In terms of the website design process, this is generally true. However, before embarking on any design project, it is paramount not only to understand the audience we are designing the marketing material for but how they interact and consume it — understanding how a particular group of prospective customers can mean the difference between success and failure.
Traditionally, the focus has been on B2C website design (business-to-consumer) and how best to communicate with the customer. With the rise of B2B services, this same approach was applied to B2B web design (business-to-business) without fully understanding the difference in how each type of user interacts with a website interface design and how they should be marketed to.
One of the fundamental differences between website design for B2B companies compared to B2C companies is that B2B website users are much less likely to make an impulse buy based on the website alone. B2B businesses are inherently taking much more risk, investing more time and money, and relying on the products or services to perform as a well-oiled piece of their business’ marketing machine. B2B customers typically prefer to make contact with an actual person before they make this commitment as opposed to merely adding a product to the online shopping cart and checking out.
For more than a decade our Toronto Web Design Company, Parachute Design, has been fine-tuning a list of best practices for B2B website design. To better understand these tools and how they’re applied within our web design process we’ve compiled the following list.
Best Practices for B2B Web Design
Design for Conversion
With our thorough understanding of the quintessential B2B customer and their unique buying habits, we understand that merely displaying a flashy interface and beautiful product shots (bolstered by catchphrases) simply does not work. B2B customers want to first vet the B2B service provider based on high-level information from a website to support the referral that leads them on the website in the first place. Ultimately, once they have a reasonable understanding of the product or service offering, they want to speak to another human. To satisfy this need in the buying process, we use elegantly designed, straightforward web forms.
Web forms, in general, can become a bit of a black hole. There is widespread fear or distaste for web forms because we’re asking people to provide us with their highly-valued personal information, and asking them to trust that we’ll keep it private and safe. Much of this concern is deeply rooted in internet privacy, which has become a worldwide epidemic. The web form design should reassure users that the company will not use their information market something the user is not interested in, or worse yet, sell their personal information to another party.
The key to creating successful B2B web forms that convert starts well before building the webform page design itself. A B2B web form supported both by professional web design, and explicit, concise web content will convert with a higher success rate than those that do not comply with these practices. When married together, the two elements work to build trust in the user ensuring that they’re more comfortable sharing their personal information with the B2B company.
A cardinal rule at our Toronto web design agency for designing web forms in a B2B website is to advise our clients to only ask for essential personal information that is mission-critical in the early stage of new customer relationships. Requesting too much personal information early on is likely to create a divide between the business and customer, ultimately eroding the trust we’ve worked hard to develop throughout the user experience design leading the user to the B2B form page.
With initial leads, it’s best to seek only the necessary personal information, such as a customer’s name, email, and phone number. It’s important to first connect personally with the lead and establish a conversation along with a personal level of trust. Only then can you begin to ask for supplementary information from the customer to build a more robust customer profile.
At this stage in the lead nurturing process, the goal is only to make contact with a qualified lead, and not push for an order or start filling up their inbox with marketing material they may not want or might find annoying.
Web Form Design Design Tips
Some considerations can be made to improve your B2B web form design and improve conversion rates, such as:
- B2B form fields and functions should be as simple and as straightforward as possible. You’ve already got the user’s attention. You don’t need to wow them with frills and effects. Don’t interrupt the conversion process!
- Where possible, combine fields on the B2B form to make it as easy as possible for customers to fill them out.
- Adhere to common web form labels and conventions. If your web form is predictable and offers the user a quick and easy option to let their browser automatically fill out the form fields, you’re more likely to receive a higher quantity of form conversions.
- Instead of requiring users to enter information manually, offer an opportunity to select information from a list where applicable.
- Ensure a clean form design to allow users to scan and indicate which fields are required if any are not.
- Avoid complicated web form design. Instead, break it up into multiple, bite-sized steps or pages.
- Where possible, set up your web form design to pre-populate information from earlier in the courting process.
- Webform design needs to conform to current browser standards so that no matter what platform or device is used, everyone has the same user-friendly experience.
Many B2B website owners will make use of third-party client relationship management (CRM) tools such as HubSpot, as the backend of their lead generation B2B web forms.
You are not in the game if your B2B web designer is not already well versed in implementing these API’s and applying your new custom web design to their third-party web forms. Not only should your B2B website designer be skilled in implementing these solutions seamlessly, but they should also be able to offer you advice on best practices for setting up your B2B web forms within the third party service.
Responsive Website Design
B2B responsive website design is a must-have for offering not only the best user experience to potential customers (who are often on the go) but also for building your professional and trustworthy image.
A B2B website design that cannot be brought up on a mobile device quickly, or doesn’t offer an optimised mobile experience, will render a poor impression and often lead to frustration in the potential lead. With web form conversion as the ultimate goal of a B2B marketing website design project, offering a better user experience than the competition should be the cornerstone of your B2B digital marketing approach.
Beautifully Designed Calls-to-action
To drive B2B website leads to the form pages that connects qualified prospects to a salesperson, we need to ensure the website interface offers a large, clear call-to-action (CTA) on each page.
After clicking on a call-to-action, there should be no mistaking what will happen next. If we leave the user feeling fooled or tricked into navigating to a part of the website they’re not interested in, we begin to tear down the trust established through our lead nurturing initiative. By offering a call-to-action that indicates what the next step will be, we can ensure that qualified leads are entering the sales funnel.
Optimised B2B Landing Page Design
It can be tricky to convince a website owner that their customers do not need to land on their homepage every time they visit the website. If your B2B company offers more than one product or service, a great way to create a faster, more direct path to the information the user is searching for is to create an optimised landing page design for each unique offering.
HubSpot has performed market research on B2B website design and user experience concluding that 76% of customers feel the most critical factor in a website’s design is that the website makes it easy to find what they’re looking for.
Offering a direct path to the information our leads are seeking eliminates distractions, and we typically see an improved conversion rate from qualified B2B leads in no time at all.
Optimised B2B landing pages are also a fantastic way to broaden and boost the SEO performance of your website by casting a stickier net in the areas of web search you wish to market to.
B2B customers, more than any other, seek the human element.
When creating a new B2B website design, ensure that the web content is written in a way that is distinctly human and avoid writing for search engines. Use the same vocabulary your customer will be familiar with in conversation and begin courting them before the first phone call or a cup of coffee.
Another great way to include the human element in B2B web design is to include testimonials from previous customers and industry leaders. This feature will help to build your professional image, personality, and trustworthiness and play a role in convincing B2B leads to ultimately complete the webform and set up the first sales call.
Please have a look at our B2B website design case study for Polar to see how each design element fits together to create a beautiful digital experience.
About Parachute Design
If you’re interested in learning more about our best practices for B2B website design and how Parachute Design can help improve your B2B website complete our online quote request form, or call our Toronto B2B website design experts at 416-901-8633.