Design and Your Company’s Reputation

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As mentioned earlier. Harvard Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter determined that people can make up their minds about websites within the first 50 milliseconds after arriving at a given site. Many of these impressions must occur subliminally to register so quickly, and they could be grossly unfair and inaccurate in their assessments of websites and companies. Welcome to the competitive world of B2B marketing. People -- even professional business buyers -- come with a full complement of prejudices, preferences of color and design and ulterior motives for visiting a website. If browsing customers don't find what they want within a short time, they'll just move on to another site. Fortunately, website owners aren't stuck with a static design or limited to the same display features when they carefully segregate the people who visit the site. Customer interfaces can be customized to generate personalized screen displays for different types of customers to reinforce making the best possible impression.

Design and functionality are inseparably intertwined, but many B2B companies haven't embraced the concept that their websites need to offer all the design features that B2C companies offer and empower customers and stakeholders to use their dynamic eCommerce platforms for more than just placing orders. Web design statistics reveal a number of interesting, actionable insights for B2B marketers. People not only respond to design but also judge a company by functionality issues as illustrated by a survey that found 47 percent of customers expect websites to load in two seconds or less. On average, websites have fewer than 10 seconds to tell their story and convince buyers to stay.[1] Customers make fast judgments based on key design features, and many of these are fueled by credibility and trust issues.

Boosting a B2B website's credibility is essential for long-term success. Business relationships can happen quickly over the Internet, but most buyers interact with a B2B company for extended times before placing their first orders. Stanford conducted research on credibility issues over three years and involving more than 4,500 people to develop the following best practices for B2B marketers:[2]

  • Show customers that the company is real to boost credibility by using such strategies as posting office photos, customer testimonials, lists of influential clients (with their approval), professional memberships, etc.
  • Show credibility by offering third-party support.
  • Build content credibility by linking to reputable websites, and provide citations and references to source materials.
  • Design a website that looks and "feels" professional, which means functional, uncluttered, easy-to-use and logically divided into sections.
  • Make it easy to contact the company in multiple ways because about 51 percent of people complain about missing contact information on business websites.[3]
  • Avoid any errors including typos, bad grammar, weird capitalizations, use of exclamation points and broken links.
  • Limit or avoid showing other ads on B2B websites except for those of business associates and manufacturers.

The Internet makes it easy to interact with millions of potential clients, but those prospects usually don't know anything about the businesses they visit except what they infer from website design and credibility. About half or 48 percent of people cite website design as the main factor in deciding whether a business is credible, and 94 percent of people have mistrusted or rejected a business just because of design issues.[4] B2B eCommerce platforms face many challenges to develop the right approach for multiple stakeholders such as providing great user experiences, attractive and functional Web designs, interactive features, proper coding for navigation and SEO and better security and enhanced payment options for online transactions. It's critical to work with a development partner to take advantage of outsider insights, collaboration strategies, unbiased testing and support for developing a cohesive marketing and content strategy that's inseparably linked to design, credibility and third-party business integrations.

 

Mobile Devices and Design

Mobile devices are used by more B2B buyers to research companies and products and even to place complex split-shipping orders. Responsive Web design ensures that B2B website displays look attractive and function correctly for people using smaller screens. Google now penalizes companies that don't use responsive mobile design.

Preparing an integrated mobile marketing strategy offers B2B companies some startling advantages over their competitors because the technology is still relatively new and not fully adopted by B2B decision-makers who often support strategies that were more successful in the 1990s. Companies can generate multiple benefits and build credibility and long-term relationships from a wide-open field of prospects who are dissatisfied with B2B companies that don't offer B2C-type design and user features that are customized for mobile searches. The benefits of designing for mobile include:

How Marketing and Sales Cycles Affect B2B eCommerce Design

If websites are the primary contact area for gaining new customers, it's critical to use that platform to nurture prospects, find and develop sales leads, convert customers through an expanded B2B sales funnel and deliver personalized content, relevant features and custom displays to each person that virtually walks in the door. Covering all areas of Website design features, user interfaces and user experiences could take hundreds of pages, but the condensed version is that design plays the main role in defining user experiences. Intuitive design is a phrase that's commonly used, but what that means is that design guides customers throughout their website visits, answers questions, enables people to research products further, connects visitors to third-party associates and entices visitors to "convert," which could mean to fill out a form, register, call the company, place an order online or watch a product demo.


UI/UX Strategies

B2B companies can manage website credibility issues by delivering better design features based on customer profiles, website behavior and demographic information. Each customer is routed to key areas of the site by the user interface or UI to generate better overall user experiences, commonly abbreviated as UX. The benefits of customizing the B2B experience of each customer are substantial, which the previously covered stats clearly show. More B2B decision-makers use mobile phones to research products and companies, and their impressions of credibility are often made in seconds. That's why it's important to anticipate what the customer wants, provide targeted displays based on their profiles and deliver a consistently relevant array of options during their online journeys.


Mapping the B2B Buying Process

Designers can't design relevant displays and feature options unless they understand each customer's profile and how it affects the buying process. Best practices for understanding the sales cycle and mapping a prospect's journey include:

  • Developing Awareness
    Each customer must become aware of what the company can do for him or her. If the visitor is a purchasing manager, showing an optimized purchase process is a big plus. Showing third-party options for research could also play an important role. If the buyer buys in bulk to distribute products to multiple retail outlets, an easy split-shipping process might impress the buyer.
  • Helping Customers Evaluate the Company
    Once aware of the company's potential benefit, buyers need the tools to evaluate the company and its products. Enhanced internal searches, testimonials, information about the company, prices, ability to place custom orders and other B2B options come into play.
  • Converting Prospects into Customers
    Once customers are leaning toward making a B2B purchase, the interface should operate like the traditional sales funnel by offering great shipping options, multiple payment options, clearly defined return policies and easy ways to place orders by self-service or triggering staff support. Of course, staff assistance can be triggered anywhere in the process with offers of automatic chats and other website features.

The website's information architecture is the single most critical element of design because it's used for internal and external searches to find relevant information. Mapping site visitors includes understanding each customer -- whether he or she is an existing customer, partner, business associate, staff member, new prospect, key decision-maker or secondary decision-maker or associate. Each visitor's journey should be customized based on information that becomes available in real-time.


Graphic Design Strategies

Most people think of color schemes, typography, font sizes, images and illustrations when they are considering website design, and these factors can be important when building a brand or adding personality to a website. However, B2B buyers are usually less concerned with these design elements than how design features work on their devices. It is critical not to distract customers with flashing bells, automatic narrations and motions that don't add value. Testing design elements is important to develop a consistent brand and concept such as friendly, sophisticated, practical, bold or conservative.

Using complementary colors can reinforce good impressions or turn away prospects in seconds, so take some time in developing a professional color scheme that reflects the company's image and satisfies classic color theory. Color preferences are highly subjective, but some combinations just don't work for most people. Textures and transparencies can enhance design, but they should be used sparingly and carefully for valid business reasons and not just for design aesthetics.

Building Trust in B2B Relationships

Credibility is enhanced by design features, and offering personalized displays and suggestions, relevant connections and product support features begins the process of building online trust and long-term business relationships. Many B2B analysts believe that price is the most important buyer consideration, and it certainly matters, but competing on price is a losing strategy over the long-term. Offering prices that are too low raises red flags to many experienced buyers who understand the costs and don't trust bargain-basement prices.

Savvy B2B marketers use their design features to build trust in customer relationships by helping each visitor achieve his or her objectives in visiting the website. Creating a favorable impression depends on professional site design, customer-centric features and third-party integrations that help customers build their own businesses. Offering customers consistently great user experiences builds relationships that are immune to competitor efforts to match or undercut prices or duplicate services.

A study of 75 top national B2B accounts showed that customer engagement was the defining criterion in gaining trust, building credibility and developing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. About 21 percent of high-engagement businesses experienced 20-percent or higher growth rates while only 15 percent of low-engagement businesses achieved those growth rates.[6] As engagement becomes increasingly SOP in B2B marketing, decision-makers can expect that gap to widen.

Design Tips from B2B eCommerce & Integrations

At B2B eCommerce & Integrations, we understand how to incorporate cutting-edge design features into any eCommerce platform while integrating the special customizations and features needed to build a world-class eCommerce platform. Our people are skilled at working with multiple stakeholders to design, build, integrate and test each part of your website so that it can automatically customize experiences for a range of stakeholders and customer profiles. We would like to develop the kind of relationship that builds trust with our development partners, and we offer the skills, resources and customer-centric philosophy that convinces multiple decision-makers in your organization to begin extending trust. Call or contact us today for a consultation about any element of B2B eCommerce platform design.


 

References:

[1] Ironpaper.com: Web design statistics 2015 www.ironpaper.com

[2] Stanford.edu: Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines

[3] Hubspot: 17 Website and UX Design Statistics That Make the Case for Smarter Web Design blog.hubspot.com/marketing/compelling-stats-website-design-optimization-list

[4] Ironpaper.com: 10 Web Design Statistics www.ironpaper.com/webintel/articles/10-web-design-statistics

[5] Searchengineland: 6 Key Considerations For Preparing A B2B Mobile Strategy searchengineland.com/6-key-considerations-for-preparing-a-b2b-mobile-strategy-123723

[6] Gallup.com: B2Bs Win by Building Relationships, Not Selling on Price www.gallup.com/businessjournal/165389/b2bs-win-building-relationships-not-selling-price.aspx