As a startup or small business, your website is the first impression any potential buyer will have of your business.
Therefore, it is vitally important you make it a good one.
Did you know?
of a web visitor’s first impressions are design-related.
Ineffective marketing (particularly the inability to establish a strong online presence) is both costly and damaging to your brand and reputation.
It’s also one of the major reasons why startups and small businesses don’t make it past the first 3 years.
We’ve produced these B2B website design guidelines to show how to promote your business to the right audience and attract new leads to grow your business rapidly.
Back in July 2006, a couple of Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov ran a series of experiments with the conclusion that you only have 1/10th of a second to make a good first impression when you first meet someone.
That really isn’t very long.
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To put that into context, a single blink takes 3 times longer.
However, with a website, you have a whole 7 seconds to make a good first impression!
And that first impression can have a profound impact on your business.
Did you know?
of users judge a company’s credibility based on its website design.
Let’s do a quick test…
Which of the following two websites do you think has the best design?
Website Design A
Website Design B
Within a few seconds, you can clearly see that Website Design A is about booking personalised flights. The design is simple, crisp and clean with easy navigation and call-to-action buttons. Website Design B however is very cluttered with lots of different pieces of information all trying to grab the user’s attention.
So Website Design A certainly comes out on top in this test when it comes to design.
However, the loading time of Website A is incredibly slow.
It’s so slow that it even broke the GTmetrix analyser tool when trying to measure the page speed. I’ve never seen that happen before.
So what can we learn from this simple test?
To attract new leads to your website, the design is critical to capture their attention within the first 7 seconds. However, it’s the user experience whilst on your website that will turn new leads into customers.
Both are covered in this article.
Table of Contents
B2B Website Design vs B2C Website Design
Designing a website to sell to other businesses (B2B) is vastly different to designing one for consumers (B2C).
With B2C you are convincing people to buy a product immediately but with B2B, the sales cycle generally can be anything from 6 to 18 months.
It’s for this reason, the B2B website design needs to:
- constantly attract people to your site
- satisfy their buying needs
- direct them through the online sales funnel
When it comes to the design of your website, attracting people has very different requirements compared to turning people into customers.
We have structured these B2B website design guidelines accordingly so you can see a clear distinction.
- B2B website design for the first 7 seconds
- B2B website design beyond 7 seconds
Website Design Guidelines – B2B Website Design for the First 7 Seconds
If you don’t make a good impression within the first 7 seconds, what’s the worst that could happen?
Quite simply, you could lose a potential sale and customer to one of your competitors.
Great for your competition, but not so good for you.
As a startup or small business, you need to be grabbing and holding on to every customer.
So those first 7 seconds are critical in grabbing the attention and impressing each and every web visitor.
Understand your customer
Before you can begin with the B2B website design you first need to understand exactly what your customer wants and then work out how to present it to them.
Conducting market research analysis on some of your most successful competitors is a great way to get to know your competition better.
As a best practice, always check out the layout of their B2B website design and see how their online sales funnel is structured to generate leads.
Once you know the buyer’s journey you need to design it better than your competitors.
Design the B2B website to be a Virtual Salesperson
If you were looking to buy a fleet of limos for your business, would you enter a car dealership that had broken front windows and graffiti on the walls?
So how can you expect someone to buy your goods and services if your ‘shop front’ isn’t attractive and welcoming?
The aesthetics of your B2B website design are just as important as the content it contains.
In fact, more so.
You may think your content is incredible but if the person dislikes the look and feel of your website, and struggles to find what they are looking for quickly, they will likely leave.
Here are 5 website design guidelines that we highly recommend to create your virtual salesperson:
1. Less is more
A busy B2B website design loses its appeal quickly whereas crisp, clean designs with lots of white space are considered timeless.
They also look a lot more professional, are much easier to maintain and help search engines like Google to better analyse your site.
This will improve your overall page ranking for the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), and means you are more likely to be found.
Would you lease a car from this website?
Less is more.
2. Keep the Style consistent
Consistency builds trust and reinforces your brand and its values. As a result, people will become familiar with your style and associate your brand with it.
It also helps the visitor to navigate more easily around your website.
3. Don’t Overuse images
Images can really enhance the look and feel of a website.
However, overuse can make it look cluttered and messy, losing the message you are trying to convey.
And the more images you use, the greater the load time of your page.
Search Engines like Google will penalise you heavily for slow loading by reducing your ranking position.
Therefore, as a best practice, always optimise your images to reduce the size of the image file and ultimately the loading time of your website.
TIP: Use free tools like kraken.io for optimising images.
4. Make it easy to read
The goal of any B2B website design is to quickly convey what you are selling to those looking to buy.
The more difficult it is to understand, the greater the risk of them leaving.
The general rule of thumb is to keep it simple, stupid (KISS) when it comes to the text.
It may not come as much of a surprise, but readability also has an impact on your SERP ranking too.
The Flesch Reading Ease Score is a test designed to indicate how difficult it is to understand websites written in English.
A score of 100 is very easy to read and 0 is considered very difficult.
|90-100||very easy to read, easily understood by an average 11-year-old student|
|80-90||easy to read|
|70-80||fairly easy to read|
|60-70||easily understood by 13 to 15-year-old students|
|50-60||fairly difficult to read|
|30-50||difficult to read, best understood by college graduates|
|0-30||very difficult to read, best understood by university graduates|
Also bear in mind, that the language your website is written in might not be the users’ first language.
TIP: Use plugins like Yoast SEO to measure the readability of your text.
5. Design for mobile devices
It’s essential today to have your B2B website design automatically adjust to different screen sizes.
This includes mobile, tablet and even the dreaded iPad Pro (designers call it the ‘dreaded iPadPro’ as its screen size sits somewhere between a tablet and a computer which makes it extremely challenging to code for).
Device Market Share Worldwide
Viewing content on mobiles is now the most popular device to consume content, and it is growing.
Therefore, optimising your B2B website design for mobile is an absolute best practice you just cannot ignore.
Did I mention SERP already? A site that is mobile responsive is looked on favourably by the search engine gods (Google, Microsoft…).
Keep the navigation simple
This sounds obvious. However, you’d be amazed at how the B2B website design of many small businesses makes it difficult to find what you are looking for.
Did you know?
of people surveyed said finding what they are looking for quickly is the most important factor of B2B website design.
Understanding what the web visitor wants is key.
Good navigation takes the user where they think they would like to go. However, a B2B website design with great navigation takes the user to where you want them to end up – a Call To Action (CTA).
This could be subscribing to your newsletter or downloading an eBook, but ultimately you want them to contact you to engage in a 1-to-1 conversation.
6 Tips for designing ‘easy-to-use’ navigation
- Keep the top navigation to a maximum of 7 links – any more than this and the top navigation can look cluttered. If you have more than 7 links you want to include, think about how you can restructure them
- Use words that are easy to understand – including terms like “About”, Services”, “Contact Us”, and “Pricing” are considered standard for B2B website design. Replacing these with witty phrases may be cute. However, easily recognisable words will guide the user better
- Keep the design responsive – what looks good on a desktop will appear differently on a tablet or mobile. For tablets and mobiles, it is always good to convert the navigation to a hamburger-style menu
- Always keep the ‘About‘ link in the top navigation – often people will put this in the footer as they don’t consider it that important. Actually, this page is essential in making a personal connection with the user and should be front and centre and always easily accessible
- Include a Call-To-Action – CTA’s are an essential digital marketing tool to generate inbound leads. It could be downloading an eBook, subscribing to a newsletter or booking a demo. Whatever your primary Call-To-Action is, place it in the header navigation so it is always visible and accessible
- Don’t forget the footer – there is a lot of space you can leverage in the footer to make important information easily accessible. Repeating the top navigation links is a recommendation of these website design guidelines to avoid users having to scroll up for a link. A company elevator pitch is also good to include as well as key pages or documents you want to highlight
Your B2B website design should always be built with the intention of turning visitors into hot leads.
Website Design Guidelines – B2B Website Design Beyond 7 Seconds
If the visitor is still on your website after 7 seconds.
You have successfully navigated the first major hurdle to attracting new leads.
Now you need to explain why your products and services are right for them and why they should buy from you.
Define your uniqueness
You believe your product(s) and service(s) are the best right?
You need to explain that clearly and succinctly.
Point out what makes you unique and why they should buy from you and not your competitors.
Nike for example really pushes the ‘technology that goes into the shoe to make it the best for the user’ as the main differentiator between them and their competition.
Our own brand 3B Website Design has three points of uniqueness:
- Focus on working with startups and small businesses
- Ensure we provide affordable web design services
- Never compromise on the quality or speed of the client’s website
Three distinct points of uniqueness are generally considered the limit for people to remember.
Add personality to your brand
As a startup or small business, you are probably at the early stages of developing your brand and its position in the market.
It’s therefore a great opportunity to inject a bit of personality into your website to reflect your company values.
This can establish long-term trust and loyalty with your brand, something all businesses strive for.
Your ‘About’ page for example is a great place to express yourself and make a real connection with the user.
Include quotes, testimonials and case studies
image used under the fair use policy courtesy of tagembed
Acquiring approval from any customer for a full case study in the first year of being in business is going to be difficult, as they need time to evaluate the success of your product(s) or service(s).
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try when the opportunity arises.
Case studies are extremely powerful influencers in the decision-making process, particularly when the case study relates to the prospects’ own business.
However, gathering individual quotes and testimonials should be fairly easy to do.
The more senior the title of the person providing the quote, the greater the credibility of your brand.
Don’t be afraid to include pricing
There has always been a big debate on whether you should include a pricing page in your B2B website design.
For example, one side of the debate states by sharing prices:
- you are giving valuable information away to your competitors
- potential buyers could make a quick ill-informed decision
Subsequently, on the other side of the debate by not sharing your prices:
- makes it difficult to compare you with your competition
- potential buyers may assume you to be too expensive
The reality is both sides of the debate are actually correct.
You need to do a hybrid of both and include a pricing page but for enterprise-size packages leave it as a POA option (price on application).
This is a great example by Appcues. Clear pricing for the Essentials and Growth packages, but for the Enterprise package you need to talk with them.
Your B2B website design needs to attract and keep people on the site beyond the first 7 seconds. If they are still on your site after 7 seconds then the chances of turning them into leads significantly increases.
Don’t sacrifice style over substance. Instead, focus on style AND substance. Style attracts them, substance keeps them.
Hopefully, these B2B website design guidelines help to give your startup or small business the building blocks to create a great user experience, reduce the bounce rate and boost your conversions.