Best Tips on How to Design a B2B Website
Table of contents
What is a B2B website?
A B2B (business to business) website is a website for a business whose target audience are other businesses.
No two businesses are identical. They all have special qualities that help them thrive in the market.
When a potential client visits a B2B website, they are looking for the best fit and the right partner.
A good B2B website acts as a match-maker, helping the business and client alike cut to the chase and see if they are compatible with each other.
The objectives of a B2B website
- Act as a match maker
- Leads generation
- Help make the logical choice
- Deal with client’s emotional needs (emotional currency)
- Validation, safety, trust
- Show the expertise
- Show basic price and services
- Shape perception
Characteristics of a B2B website
There are no defining characteristics of a B2B website since the term is too large – it’s best to look at the type of website to understand the characteristics.
Examples of B2B websites
There are many different types of B2B (business to business) websites.
- Crew Manning Agencies
- Commercial property insurance
- Industrial manufacturer
- Enterprise Software Company
- Corporate printing company
- Corporate Lawyer
- Branding Agency
- Office Refurbishment
How to design a B2B website
B2B website take more planning than consumer websites because the content is more complex and the reasons to creating the website are complicated too.
No one on the team will have a full appreciation of every angle about the business, the website, its design, content and technology.
This is why a flexible and collaborative relationship between the web agency and the B2B is helpful.
Here are a few topics to think about before engaging in the design and development of your B2B website.
Understanding the business
The first job of any B2B website project is to make sure everyone working on the project understands what the business does and how it provides value to its customers.
Even the most superficial understanding of the business is better than nothing. Context is key and without it, you’ll get websites that look generic and don’t hit the right tone.
One way to build understanding is to look at websites of others in the same industry.
Starfish carries out a competitive analysis for any B2B project that seems slightly complex or where the client really wants a strategic (competition beating) website solution.
Wireframing – the process of drawing a blueprint for a website is part of the planning phase. For a B2B website – content (images and text) can be quite challenging, so it’s important to gather as much of it as possible before attempting to create a layout.
Content needs to be collected and laid out in a plain wireframe with minimal layout suggestion. In succeeding iterations, the content is edited down and the wireframes are modified to fit the content.
The Technology Platform
WordPress is the go-to platform for Starfish because it’s so flexible and fast to work with. It does require you maintain your website, but so does everything website.
The online sales strategy
Before the website is made one has to know specifics about the current sales process and how the website will alter or fit in to the sales process.
Lead generation is likely to be an objective for the new website but there will be other objects, arguably more important.
Since the website is likely to be an important investment, the goals of the website need to be outlined.
Most of the content used in a promotion strategy will be created to draw views from people searching a topic and finding out you are experts.
Usually promotion or digital marketing is an after though but it’s work planning as soon as possible because this is one of the hardest parts.
We have a full article on content planning.
B2B websites tend to have much more specialist content than consumer website. Consequently, the content is collected before a design is thought about.
Ideally, a B2B website needs to spend 40% of its budget on content planning. A deeper strategic plan saves time in the long run and reaps bigger rewards.
Read about strategic planning.
Your budget should be determined by:
- what you will get in return
- the size of your company
- the complexity of your industry
- how much content you want on your website
How to present your business visually
You should aim to look:
This can be through a mix of real photography and stock photography
The best way to look professional is to buy a professionally made website
Your website should be calm and collected. Clear and helpful. Not shouty, boastful or busy.
In the industry
Websites in every industry have their look. They are influenced by each other. The designers come to the same conclusions about design. Do a competitive analysis of a hundred websites in your industry and you’ll see a pattern.
Important features of a B2B website
B2B websites don’t need to be full of functionality. To come across as professional, they need to
- Be fast to load
- Be faultless as the company behind them
- Be legal and to be seen to care about legal matters
- Be ethical and to be seen to care about the rights of others
B2B digital marketing
There are fewer clients. They spend more time researching and they are fussier.
On the plus side, they spend more money and they form longer lasting relationships.
You digital marketing campaign will be more like a PR campaign.
The goal is to look good, to be visible and to let them choose you.
Contact points – the number of ways a client can get in touch with you is important. Social media plays a role in this, but your website too should be geared towards feeling you’re penetrable, without coming across as pushy.
There are many ways to create awareness. Awareness implies that people need to have heard about you before thinking entering into business with you.
- Digital event sponsorship
- Social Media articles (such as on Facebook)
- News articles in industry magazines
Reputation, referral and relationships
The business relationship be built nurtured over time. The role of the website is to help in the process relationship building.
For example, simply by having a good website, people will be more willing to refer you.
Your website will demonstrate your reputation and will not cause embarrassment to the person who wishes to give you a referral.
As the client gets more comfortable with what he reads and sees on the website, the relationship is being built.
The short term play
If you need sales now, you advertise and you push yourself in front of more people.
The mid cycle play
If you need sales in the near future, you make sure people can find you.
The long play
Businesses need to look ahead. The activities you do now to promote your business will have an effect on the minds of the future.
The long play is to build a brand, be seen, be reputable and if possible be influential. Let the young minds of tomorrow see things your way. Shape them now and they will be on your side before you know it.
Maintaining a B2B website
Some B2B websites need weekly maintenance, some monthly others by-yearly.
Maintenance is important because websites have gotten technically more complex and are more prone to errors and faults. This is the price we pay for convenience and advanced features that make website cheaper to build and easier to manage.
Maintenance should cover:
Read more about website security. Website security is a modern-day concern. Websites are getting hacked and spammed. Your website could be used as a ransom tool so it’s better to harden your security so that the hackers go elsewhere.
It’s easier to improve a website month on month than to rebuild a website every few years. Websites need to be improved because there are always things that could be done better. Things that will make a difference to sales.