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The Essential Guide to B2B Website Design

B2B website design

The website has become a key component of today's digital buyer's journey. However, while it used to be enough for a company's website to promote their own products and story, a modern lead generation website needs to be consumer-focused to reflect contemporary digital behaviours.
 
In order to generate leads and customers, a company’s website needs to be of the highest standard. However, this is where a lot of companies struggle. Your website might look great, but it isn’t performing well - it isn’t driving traffic, or not enough leads are being closed.
 
But why?
 
While an effective website must look good, it must have more substance than visual appearance alone.  Effective website design includes a number of different components, such as the structure of the site, an effective, personalised user journey, the content displayed, as well as SEO strategy and more - and its these components that will work together to drive traffic and close leads.
In this guide, we consider what it takes to design an effective website for your business. We look at the various steps needed to attract, engage and convert your visitors, ultimately improving traffic and closing those leads once and for all.
 

Why is your website important? 

In today’s digital marketplace, the internet has the widest reach of any form of advertising - making your website the most important resource you have. While it's unlikely that a company won’t have a website at all, it is likely that a large number of websites won’t be effective, or they will receive little-to-no traffic and revenue as a result of their efforts.
 
With this in mind, there are a number of reasons why simply owning a website isn’t enough - it needs to be effective.
 

First Impressions Count

Your website is often the first encounter a potential customer has with your company, so a bad initial impression can be detrimental for business. When studies show that 75% of people judge a company’s credibility based on their website, customers are extremely likely to dismiss your company entirely if they have a bad experience on your website. 
 

Connect with your users across devices

With over 70% of internet traffic coming from mobile phones, its now more essential than ever that your website is optimised for mobile technology. It is likely that many of your customers will access your site through these devices, and you want to make sure that each user has an excellent experience, regardless of what device they are using.
 
Businessman using smartphone against website interface
If your website takes too long to load, or isn’t user-friendly, you could be leading potential customers into the arms of your competitors - which is easily avoided by ensuring your website is effective. Optimising your website for mobile can help your company improve:
  • Search visibility
  • User experience
  • Lead generation
  • Brand identity
By optimising your site for mobile, not only can you reach a wider audience, but you can give them a great experience too.
 

Engage your users with great content

Because users are influenced so much by the information they get when browsing a website,  what your customers see and read directly contributes to when and how they make their decision. 
 
However, engaging your users involves so much more than just well-written web pages. It is highly recommended that you invest time and resources into other content forms, such as blogs. A study from HubSpot in 2015 found that companies using blogs on their website received 67% more leads than those that didn’t.
 
This makes content one of the most important resources a company has.
 
Businesses cannot afford to ignore this. Its well known that Google is constantly changing its algorithms to ensure that it is constantly serving its users to create a great joined-up experience. This makes it difficult for companies to gain authority and rank highly without an excellent website experience and informative content. 
 
Designing your website with UX in mind can help you rise in the Google ranks and gain authority above your competitors, which will ultimately result in more customers.
 
A well thought out and expertly designed website has the potential to be the best salesperson in your company, however if your website isn’t performing as well as you’d hoped, it could be time to invest in a new one.
 
Do you know how effective your website is? Find out with our free 30 minute website assessment

When is it time to get a new site? 

Unfortunately, there is no definitive timescale on when companies should be updating their website. While a study by Orbit Media concluded that the average website lifespan is around 2 years 7 months, ultimately when you decide to update your website depends entirely on your individual company’s circumstances.

Chances are, you’ve grown as a company over the years and your industry has evolved. If your website has remained the same throughout these changes - you don’t want to be left behind. 

However, since this is fairly vague advice, here are four noticeable issues to look out for that indicate your company needs to invest in a new website.

1. Your site speed is too slow

To keep your customers, every second counts.

When users visit your website, it's likely that they won’t spend too much time there. Getting information quickly and easily is the modern consumers’ priority, with 47% expecting a website to load in a maximum of two seconds. This means that regardless of any elaborate features you add, it all becomes irrelevant if your website isn’t responsive.

Slow site speeds can occur for a number of reasons including slow server response time, too many resources, or content that isn’t optimised for the site. This can lead to high bounce rates due to a bad user experience - which has a negative overall impact on your SEO.

A website redesign could help put an end to these issues and influence customers to stay on your site for longer.

2. You aren’t getting enough traffic

One of the main reasons why companies see a reduction in traffic is because they aren’t staying on top of their website to keep it optimised for search engines. This could be due to changes in Google’s algorithm, an SEO strategy that needs improving, errors on your website and more. 

However, to stop this reduction, companies need to ensure that their website is created with optimisation at the forefront of design, and that it is maintained and updated regularly to be in-line with best practice SEO.

Redesigning your website on a platform that allows you to do this with minimal effort is the best way to do this.

3. It's too difficult to make changes

You should be able to upload and edit content on your website with ease and convenience. If you can’t - this is a clear sign that you may need a new site.

The easiest way to upload and update content is with a content management system. If you are already using one but struggling to use it effectively, this indicates that the system is causing you problems. You may need to consider investing in a new CMS - one that allows anyone in your company to edit content quickly and easily, so your website can stay relevant and up-to-date - without the headache.

4. Your conversion rate is low

You may be acquiring leads from your website - which is great - but if none of these leads are converting, there is clearly an issue. If you’re having problems such as a high bounce rate, a low  number of average pages per visit and this ultimately leads to fewer conversions, this means that users aren’t finding your site useful or helpful.

Why?

It could be because your site just isn’t addressing the concerns that your potential customers have, and your content isn’t appealing to the right people. To resolve this issue, you need to align your website design with your business goals, which could mean a complete website overhaul. By intertwining your goals into your website design, you can ensure consistency throughout your marketing efforts, which will ultimately persuade more leads to convert.

These are just some of the indicators that you need a new site - there are many more. However, while we recommend redesigning a site on the issues listed above, we stress that it’s often not a good idea to get a new site just because your MD or CEO wants to.

Websites are expensive, time-intensive and are supposed to serve the purpose of generating revenue - they are not to be taken lightly by any employees, as they require a careful strategy to implement successfully.

See what your strategy is missing: Download our B2B Lead Generation Website  Checklist >

Planning your website strategy 

Before you even begin designing your new site, you first need to have objectives.

What is it you want to achieve? 

businessman hand working with new modern computer and business strategy as concept-1

An effective website needs to generate leads, and these leads need to convert in order to enable business growth. To do this, your website needs to:

1. Drive traffic

Your website must be easy to find in both organic search and through other relevant sites.

2. Engage users

Having a fast site, attractive design and useful content creates an instant connection with your potential customers wherever they are in their buyers’ journey.

3. Convert these users into customers

Arguably the most important objective, your website needs to be able to convert site visitors into loyal customers. By doing this in an inbound way, you can nurture users right from the very first time they visit your site through to their purchase decision.

These objectives take time to meet, however they can be met by following specific steps that allow for successful execution: research, strategy and planning.

Research

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the importance of using your old website in a redesign - it can be a valuable asset.

First of all, you should analyse your existing pages - which ones are doing well and which aren’t. Those that are performing can be kept in the sitemap and redesigned for the new website, and any that are failing can be scrapped altogether. You can understand this using Hotjar, which will reveal where visitors are best engaged on your site and where there is no interest. 

Next, make sure to check out your competition. You need to do this not only to keep you ahead of the game, but to outline your unique USPs. This will help you align the website design with your business goals right from the beginning of the process. 

Then, you can start constructing your inbound website in a way that focuses completely on your potential customers and develop your execution strategy based on these USPs.

Strategy

First of all, you need to have a value statement - establish what it is your company does and more importantly, why you do it.

In order to build an effective website that engages its users, this value statement needs to be clear throughout every aspect of the website. Once you have established your values, you can begin to incorporate them into your keyword strategy and site mapping, as well as the overall design of your website - including important aspects such as your homepage. 

Importance of keywords

Keywords are an essential part of an effective website, and a strategy for them needs to be in place before any design is done. 

Start by identifying your target keywords and begin building them into the site structure: content, page names and URLs should be named according to your target keywords, in order to give your website the best possible chance of ranking highly. 

It is recommended that you do this prior to design because a good keyword strategy will inform how the site is created, and will make it easier for content to be added to the website in the future, as you will have made your business goals clear.

Want to know how your website is performing on search engines? Book a free 30 minute website assessment with us today. 

Planning

Site mapping 

This is a crucial part of the planning process because it allows you to see the pages you are going to build and how they will look on your new site. The site map should be influenced by the previous research and strategy stages, including your value statement and priority keywords.

It's important that you keep your sitemap clear and concise - users want simple information, so cut down any unnecessary jargon where you can and instead focus on how each page will help them move along their buyers’ journey. 

Make sure to provide context - assess what the key pages are for your specific buyer, which could range from your homepage to a case studies page and make these obvious to the user’s eye. By doing this, you can highlight the most important aspects of your site for your desired customer - which will encourage them to spend longer on your site.

Navigation

This is one of the most important aspects of your website because it is central to the user experience. If a customer clicks on your navigation menu and is met with an overwhelming amount of dropdowns or options, it is extremely likely that they won’t continue engaging with your site. 

Modern consumers don’t have time for a long look through your entire website - they want relevant information and they want it quickly. 

When you are planning your navigation, only include the pages you have outlined as essential and place everything else in the footer. Remember to use calls-to-action where appropriate and don’t be afraid to use your footer to hold smaller links - this will help visitors navigate throughout your website whether they’re at the very top of the page or have scrolled right through to the bottom.

Delivery 

We recommend using Growth Driven Design (GDD) as an approach to designing your website, which is more agile and effective than traditional methods. It brings testing, learning, and iteration to the website redesign process to improve performance, and reduces overall cost.

The first step in doing this is prioritising pages and features to launch first. Instead of spending huge amounts of time perfecting all pages, it's much better to launch a smaller amount of pages quickly and add to them continuously. 

By introducing small amounts of content at a time, you can properly assess user behaviour and how your website is performing, which will allow you to plan further phases accordingly.

Now you’ve got your objectives outlined and your strategy finalised, you need to decide where you will build your website. 

Choosing your platform 

Website design has evolved from something done only by developers, to something that has the potential to be executed by any business with the right system. However, when it comes to deciding which platform to build your website on, it can be difficult because of the sheer amount of tools to choose from.

That’s why we have compared some of the biggest and best CMS’ out there to help you decide which platform is the best fit for your business.

WordPress

This is the one CMS that everyone has heard of. According to W3 Tech, WordPress is used by 34.8% of all the websites, giving it a content management system market share of 61.6% and making it the most widely used of all the CMS systems. It's also one of the cheapest, as WordPress is completely free - that is, until you look into the additional costs needed to fully optimise the software.

One of the greatest strengths of WordPress is how quickly and easily you can begin blogging. The format is very similar to a word processor, so if your knowledge of blog post creation is limited, you should be able to build a blog successfully with their easy-to-use content editor.

However, the downside to this ease of use is its limitations - while you can create some decent looking blog posts, it doesn’t allow for a deeper level of customisation or optimisation. WordPress isn’t designed for lead generation, so in order to use it to your full advantage, you’ll need additional plugins that will allow for the use of more modern formats and calls-to-action.

You can’t technically make landing pages either, as WordPress only allows you to create web pages and blog posts. While these can be repurposed for landing and thank you pages, they don’t possess anywhere near the level of functionality needed for an effective lead-generation website. Again, you’ll need a lot of plug-ins to do this more successfully, and you’ll need to consider if this extra effort is worth it.

Our verdict

Wordpress is an excellent way for a business to easily begin publishing on the internet right away and it is one of the most affordable ways your company can do this. However, because WordPress needs a lot of plug-ins to be fully optimised, it's not the best option for businesses who want an all-in-one platform, or a website that generates leads successfully.

Joomla 

Used in over 2 million websites, Joomla is one of the most popular CMS’ used today. It is built on a model–view–controller web application framework that allows you to build excellent websites. 

Joomla’s interface is powerful yet easy to use, making it popular with a lot of businesses. However, its disadvantage is that it is very much a middle of the range system. It isn’t as easy to use as systems such as WordPress or HubSpot, and it isn’t as developer-friendly as other platforms.

On top of this, it lacks a substantial amount of features. Joomla’s community offers lots of modules to use, but they are difficult to find and even more difficult to use, meaning that a lot of add-ons are needed to maximise the software’s potential.

Our verdict

Joomla is an excellent option for businesses wanting to create a professional website quickly and with ease. However, if you know that you will need a variety of extra features, we recommend considering another CMS that will give you access to them.

Magento

An eCommerce giant, Magento is one of the most popular CMS choices for businesses in this field. It has a wide range of features that allow its users to manage multiple stores in a variety of locations, as well as supporting multiple languages, pricing and currencies. A strength of the software is that its highly scalable and is able to handle rapid business growth unlike a lot of other eCommerce systems.

However, it struggles as a standalone CMS and requires users to add numerous extensions to meet their needs, which isn’t ideal for those companies that want an all-in-one system. This is made all the more frustrating when the cost of Magento is considered - it may not be the best choice if you need a powerful CMS, or if eCommerce is a secondary requirement for your business.

Our verdict

Magento is an excellent tool for solely eCommerce businesses, however it doesn’t possess the features necessary for businesses that need a more encompassing CMS. 

Wix

Wix is a cloud-based web development platform with which you can easily create HTML5 and mobile-optimised websites. The software is available for free, with the option to upgrade to various premium plans.

Wix offers its users an easy drag-and-drop site builder to create small websites, and offers hundreds of free templates for its users. However, a downside to this is that these templates can’t be changed easily, so once you’ve chosen your design, you won’t be  able to alter it. 

On top of this, Wix has a reputation of being terrible for SEO. Optimising a website built on Wix for search engines can be difficult for reasons such as no option to customize canonical tags or product URLs. Wix websites can often contain unnecessary code bloat, which is particularly bad because it affects page speed - something that Google uses to rank your website.

Our verdict

Wix is a good platform for small businesses who want an easy-to-use CMS that does the basics of website design well. However, we don’t recommend its use for larger business looking to improve their SEO strategy and suggest researching other options.

Shopify

Shopify is mainly used for running an eCommerce store and if this is a main component of your business, your content will be managed by Shopify through bespoke theme customisation and the blogging platform. 

Shopify is an excellent marketing tool, and excels at SEO and Google Ads. However as a standalone CMS, it is much less flexible than its competitors and doesn’t allow for much customisation. On top of this, it can become quite costly - especially if you are a small business.

Our verdict

Shopify does eCommerce extremely well. However, if eCommerce isn’t your primary concern, it can be limiting as a standalone CMS. We recommend it as an integration - not a full CMS solution.

HubSpot

HubSpot CMS is an excellent all-rounder for a multitude of different businesses. 

Because it is a complete marketing solution, HubSpot allows for personalised creation of all aspects of your website, including blogs, forms, landing pages and much more. Each of these can be customised in line with your business and brand, meaning that you have complete creative freedom. An advantage that HubSpot has over its competitors is that anyone is able to create with it and you don’t need to be an IT or coding expert to do it. 

This is what puts HubSpot ahead of its competitors - it is much easier to use than rival systems. It even has its own Academy where you can access lessons on how to use different elements of the software, as well as general marketing and sales knowledge.

Our verdict

HubSpot excels with proper implementation and critically, it’s easier to use than many other marketing automation tools. 

At Axon Garside, we can help you implement the software and teach you exactly how best to use and optimise it for your business through a training programme directly tailored to your needs.

For more information on how we can help you improve your business with HubSpot, request a custom HubSpot demo

Best practice design for B2B websites

Unlike B2C customers, your B2B leads will probably not make impulse buys. However, this doesn’t mean your website shouldn’t be attractive and persuasive. B2C companies are already using the value of effective website design to convert leads - B2B companies need to start doing the same. 

In the past, B2B companies could get away with just having good content on their site, but modern consumers have become smarter. Both B2C and B2B customers now expect a website experience, including excellent design - no matter what industry your business is in.

This means that now more than ever, effective website design is one of the most useful ways to generate business. So, with this in mind, we've put together our 5 top tips for best practice B2B website design.

1. Keep it simple

Take a look at your website, is everything on there really necessary?

B2B websites are often  overloaded with information. However, when it comes to effective website design less is always more - no matter what business you’re in. While complex design might seem tempting, the impact of simple design is often underestimated.

The more options you give people, the higher chance there is of them choosing nothing at all, so be sure to keep your navigation, design and copy as simple as you possibly can. You should also use whitespace in a clever way, so that the user’s eye is naturally drawn to places you want it to be. 

2. Target the right people

This sounds simple enough, but it's surprising just how many companies aren’t focusing on their customers when it comes to their website. 

A website is only effective if you’re able to target the kind of people you want to sell to. Your website should be customer-centric and it should be the foundation on which all your marketing and sales activity rests upon

This is where buyer personas come in. These are created using data-backed research that will directly inform the content you put on your website. In order to engage or “speak” with your prospects, you need to have their buyer persona nailed - so that you can understand their pains and challenges and provide solutions for them.

This will gain your prospects’ trust and make them more likely to purchase your product or service.

how-personas-can-make-or-break-content-marketing

3. Prioritise user experience

How effective your website is relies heavily on how easy it is to use. User experience is different for everyone, but the most important thing to remember is that while you may have designed the website, you are not the user - you cannot assume what your users want or need

When it comes to design, your website should be built in a way that allows users to naturally gravitate towards the most important areas - they shouldn’t have to put in more effort than is required to find something on your site. 

Here are some simple ways you can provide a great user experience on your website:

  • Get to know your users by creating buyer personas to establish how your website can help them.
  • Create wireframes to eliminate usability issues before the website is developed to save time for adjustments further down the line.
  • Conduct usability testing with real users to identify any issues they face when interacting with the website.
  • Regularly test your website to see if all components are still in correct working order.

 

4. Consistency is key

A simple way you can make your website as effective as possible is by ensuring that it is consistent. Your pages could have different layouts to keep it visually interesting, however all your pages need to match each other.

You can do this in a number of different ways, such as using the same navigation bar across the top of each page, maintaining a colour scheme and a consistent font and image style. Doing this is absolutely essential for an effective website, as well as your brand identity. Consistency makes your business trustworthy, If your users are able to instantly recognise your brand based on your website alone, they are more likely to trust you and therefore purchase a product or service from you. 

5. Stay relevant

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make with their website is not regularly updating it after it has gone live. Not performing regular checks on your website means you could risk broken links or 404 errors which can make for a bad user experience and damage your reputation with Google.

On top of this, not providing fresh industry-relevant content can impact your lead generation and nurturing efforts. Your website isn’t something you can create and hope it works on its own - it is a continuous project that should be growing and evolving on a regular basis to keep up with consumer habits, market-changing shifts and technology.

How to make your website inbound-ready

Inbound marketing is a business methodology used to attract customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound methods interrupt your audience with content they don’t want, inbound methods form connections they’re looking for and try and solve problems they already have. 

6-steps-to-designing-a-b2b-website-ebook-front-cover

An inbound-ready website is designed and developed so that it harnesses the benefits that come from using the inbound methodology. For B2B companies, this kind of website is one of the most powerful tools you can create for driving reliable business growth. 

In industries where buyers aren’t likely to make impulse decisions, your website needs to nurture people through a buyers journey that enables them to purchase when they’re ready. 

 

Here are some features your website should include to be inbound-ready:

Calls to action and content offers

Too often, businesses go ‘straight for the throat’ when it comes to CTAs, using hard sale language such as ‘buy now’ or ‘call today’. This feels pushy and off-putting - today’s buyers are smart and they don’t like being told what to do.

To entice your prospects, you need to appeal to learners, shoppers and buyers. Each of these prospect types has an individual pain or problem, and your website should be geared towards each of them. To do this, instead of telling those who may just be browsing your website to ‘buy now’, offer them something - educate them.

In each step of the buyer's journey, there are opportunities to convert these different types of leads with content offers such as ebooks, checklists, webinars and more. Make sure your CTAs reflect the content and your prospects will feel more in control and less pressured, making them more likely to make a purchase further down the line.

Landing pages

Landing pages are one of the most important tools of B2B lead generation, as they generate leads by capturing a visitor's information through a lead form. 

Prospects arrive on a landing page with a specific intention, so it is essential to ensure that you demonstrate relevance from the moment they arrive – through the headline, body copy and offer. 

Creating a persona for your ideal customer is a good basis on which to create a landing page because visitors will be able to understand the value of your offer and its relevance to their specific challenges. 

Use images and graphics that are relevant to your company because first impressions count and prospects are much more likely to fill in the form if they see you as a credible organisation. When a prospect fills out a form, follow it up with a thank you page and an email that can offer newly created leads further content, a subscription to a blog or an invitation to visit the rest of your site.

When a landing page is created, be sure to test it. You can do this with HubSpot’s testing functionality which is integrated into the HubSpot Inbound Marketing software.

Forms

A key aspect of any of your landing pages, forms are a great way to improve website conversion rates and help you gather new contacts.

Most businesses recognise the importance of ‘contact us’ forms, but many make the mistake of stopping there - without considering the potential forms at every stage of the customer journey. These different forms will allow you to nurture your prospects, and stay in conversation with them long after they become your customer.

Some examples of forms you could use are:

  • News or blog subscription forms

These help your customers stay up-to-date with your company, and gives you a chance to tailor content for them directly.

  • Request a quote / consultation / assessment / demo forms

When a prospect fills out one of these forms, it's a sign that they are ready to take the next step in their buyer’s journey. This is a chance for you to find out more information about them - consider asking qualifying questions that will allow you to organise contacts into specific segments.

  • Unsubscribe forms

These forms are just as important as the others because you need to ensure that you keep prospects happy even if they opt-out of your contact. This is because they may recommend your company to others based on customer service and if this is bad, it could mean bad reviews.

Maintaining an effective website

In order to ensure your website stays effective long after it has gone live, you need to make sure you are tracking it properly. Besides tracking the number of leads and customers, here are some examples of other metrics you should be tracking:

  • Visitors

This is the number that allows you to analyse your efforts properly. However, don’t make the mistake of viewing this as your most important website metric, as it is mostly a reflection of your off-site marketing efforts as opposed to the website itself.

  • Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of people who left your website after viewing a particular page and a high bounce rate indicates a poorly performing page. You should always be comparing your high bounce pages to your low bounce pages because it will allow you to see what aspects of your website are engaging visitors and which aren’t.

  • Conversion Rate

This is the percentage of people who completed a desired action on a page, such as filling out a form - and pages with a high conversion rate are performing well. You should compare this again with your landing pages so you can see if the traffic coming to your website is generating revenue.

  • Keywords

These will show you what people are searching for when they find your site in a search engine. Analysing this data allows you to see how well your chosen keywords are performing, as well as letting you know if there are other terms you should start trying to rank for.

You should use these metrics to make reporting a main component of your website maintenance. Regular reporting will allow you to see how well your website is performing and answer any complex questions you have about the data you have gathered.

You can do this through Google Analytics, however we recommend that you have a full reporting system, because you will be able to create deeply customisable reports that can be shared throughout your business. 

Magnifing glass and documents with analytics data lying on table

As the digital world is constantly evolving, it's important that you take an agile approach to website maintenance. GDD is the most efficient and productive way of maintaining a website because it uses prospects’ data in order to make continuous improvements to your site. However, in order to do GDD effectively, you need a powerful and reliable CMS.

Redesigning your website on HubSpot’s CMS means you gain an all-in-one solution that gives your website visitors exactly what they are asking for when they need it. A dedicated HubSpot partner can help you get your new website up and running in no time at all.

Here at Axon Garside, we have many years of website development experience with the HubSpot platform, and our team of experts work closely with our clients to create a website design that fits their brand perfectly. Throughout the entire process, our UX design team is on hand to advise how best to marry content, design and code for an optimal user experience and maximum visitor-to-lead conversion.

Once your B2B website has been developed, we help maintain every element of your site, refining and growing the content based on data to deliver the best results, highest possible number and quality of leads to give you the best return on your investment.

Want to get started on your website redesign? Let’s start with your current site - Book a  free 30 minute website assessment with us today.

Schedule a free 30-minute B2B inbound website consultation with Axon Garside