Have you ever visited a B2B website and wondered whether you had somehow gone back in time to the days of VHS? Or maybe you run a B2B brand and can’t for the life of you figure out why you inherited a website that is so poorly designed and structured for SEO.
You’re not alone.
Bad web design is a trend among B2B brands.
From usability challenges to inconsistent visual assets—there’s no shortage of issues you’ll uncover after browsing a few B2B sites. But you might be wondering, Why are these sites SO bad? What can I do to avoid falling into a similar trap when designing my site?
The following are some of the most common factors we see behind bad B2B websites. Look out for these warning signs when you begin planning your own site, and you’ll be more likely to develop an online experience that’s actually built for the times and not for a past life.
Let’s get to it.
Websites Designed By Committee
Design by committee never works.
It never works because committees try to make decisions based on office politics instead of what’s best for the customer. These design-by-committee projects are too busy making sure that everyone’s ideas are incorporated, that the VP of Marketing’s ego doesn’t get bruised and that the technical team isn’t asked to do anything that makes them feel a little challenged.
Don’t fall into this trap.
Get your priorities straight by creating a customer-centric team. The people in charge of planning, designing and developing your site should be agile, focused and accustomed to delivering quality digital experiences.
Traditional Industries Hiring Traditional Experts
There’s a lot of comfort in hiring name-brand experts that have been around for years: They’re not likely to go out of business next year, their name adds credibility and heft to your pitch, and you can shrug off the blame when the project falls flat because, well…
“EVERYONE works with them … who could have known?”
But here’s the reality when it comes to these traditional experts:
Most have no idea how to create quality experiences today. The brands that have spent years working on billboards, radio ads, brochures, and multimillion-dollar ad campaigns are rarely the brands that truly get digital.
Some do, sure.
But for the most part, it’s these traditional agencies that lead B2B brands straight into the garbage with an experience that no one wants.
Technical Limitations & Expectations
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years it’s that B2B brands often deal with pretty complex sales cycles and logistics technology. From CRM to ERP to inventory management software to shipping logistics—the complexity of building a site that moves a customer from awareness to sale can scare teams away from undertaking that task ever again.
Organizations that created their ecommerce platform more than five years ago are likely leveraging older technology to manage inventory, sales, and customers. They’ve trained their team on this old technology and don’t want the hassle of migrating to something new.
But these organizations will be left behind as their competition takes the steps today that will lead them to a more successful web experience.
Lack Of Empathy For The Modern Buyer
Most buyers today aren’t strangers to online shopping.
As the average age of B2B buyers drops, their expectations for the online experience rise. These buyers are expecting a buying experience that resembles something they’d find visiting Amazon, eBay, Etsy or their other favorite online retailer.
It’s important that B2B marketers and website teams invest time in understanding their buyers’ needs and priorities when it comes to the online experience. The best website experiences are created from a place of empathy and a keen understanding of the goals a buyer has when they visit your site. You can uncover these insights through qualitative and quantitative research:
- On-Site Analytics: How are people using the website today? What’s the most visited content? What’s the next step when users land on the homepage? How do users interact with the current navigation?
- Search Analytics: How many people are looking for your products every month? Which keywords lead to the most conversions? Which websites are currently outranking you for high commercial intent keywords?
- Customer Interviews: Speaking directly to customers about their needs is key to crafting the kind of experience they want. Look for trends in the sites they frequent to find inspiration for your own site design.
Wrapping Things Up
Here’s a prediction everyone can agree on:
The internet isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
People are going to continue using the web to stay in touch with colleagues, learn about new tech and make decisions about what to buy. Web isn’t just a trend that’s going to pass, which means you can’t get by with old-school design, outdated navigation and a website that works as well as Yahoo in the ’90s.
You need an online experience that fits the needs of customers today. And you can start by avoiding the pitfalls above and instead creating an online experience that your customers enjoy and want to share.
[Updated Jan 2, 2020]