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.