Web Usability

Web usability and how to optimize B2B sites is an ongoing area of importance. Why? Because B2B sites can often prevent users from getting the information they need to find solutions. For example when sites hide the good stuff behind registration barriers. Other times it's just a case of sloppy design , like when complicated navigation prevents users from locating information, or when the information they do find is so extensive and complicated that they can't understand it. Bottom line in all these cases is that a websites usability and as a consequence this low conversions are effecting B2B sites. 

Take a simple example: Many sites use segmentation to attract the right type of client, users must click through to the appropriate site segment. Unfortunately, these segments often don't match customer profiles , and thus require them to go through multiple site areas to find the right one for them. Even a simple segmentation such as company size isn't obvious. What counts as small? 

Another common B2B tactic is to require users to register or complete lead-generation forms. Users are very reluctant to do this if you have not yet established a certain level of credibility before people are willing to give out their contact information. 

The product information that you make available without registration must be complete enough for users to judge whether your solution applies to their circumstances.The way around this is to provide helpful summaries and guides to educate new users. If you can frame how people think about their problems, you're half way to selling them.

The most user-hostile element of most B2B sites is a complete lack of pricing information. This is a basic question any visitor will ask when coming to your site.

Sites have many excuses for not wanting to display prices, but they are just that: excuses. Users expect to get a basic understanding of products and services during their initial research, and they can't do that without some idea of what it's going to cost. 

The average B2B user experience is not very supportive of customers. As a result, the websites fail to provide business value because they ultimately turn prospects away rather than turning them into leads. The good news is that most sites can dramatically enhance their business value by simply following a few more usability guidelines, and thereby offer a more customer-centered environment. Here are some things that you can do to support better B2B website usability:

  • Answer prospects questions: What does this company offer? What can I do on this site? Where can I go next?
  • Clarifying these questions can go along way in solving alot of the general usability issues listed above.
  • Make navigation obvious: Consistently underlining links. Clearly indicate visited links by using a different visited link color. Including a breadcrumb trail at the top of the page to help users navigate back up the website hierarchy (e.g., Home > Solutions > Customer Relationship Management).
  • Reach out to your customers via chat-make contact easy for them
  • Facilitate scanning: Bullet points instead of lengthy paragraphs.
  • Forms: Simplify your forms with only the most relevant information that users need to fill out.