Website Design Best Practices For Manufacturers

Website Design Best Practices For Manufacturers

Website Design Best Practices For Manufacturers

Pretty is as Pretty Does: Great Website Design is More Than Just Beautiful

It sounds like an old line (and it might be) but it’s true. A beautiful website might impress all who gaze upon it, but it’s not bringing you new visitors or leads to look at your manufacturing website. 

We’ve written a lot about why you shouldn’t just waste money on another website redesign, and about what makes a great website, but today, we want to talk about a few website design best practices for manufacturers. 

These best practices focus on what makes for great design, but also, what design elements can make your manufacturing website work for you by drawing in qualified traffic and converting leads. 

If you’re a manufacturer planning a new website or a website redesign, here are a few best practices and key website elements to make sure are included in your new site:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

We have written magnum opuses on website SEO for manufacturers, and so have a million other digital marketing experts (see here and Moz, for a complete beginner’s guide to SEO), so we won’t belabor this point. 

We will say that if you want your website to generate leads, you need to implement SEO tactics. Search engine optimization is absolutely necessary if you want to rank well, rank ahead of your competition, or generate digital leads. A couple of web design best practices to keep in mind regarding SEO include:

  • Pick Keywords and Key Topics – Figure out what you want to rank for (we suggest keywords relevant to your company that have a high search volume and low competition) and make sure your website is built out to match those keywords and topics. 
  • Check on Site SpeedIf your site isn’t speedy, people will ditch. Use Google’s PageSpeed Tool to see how you’re doing, and to get recommendations on how you can improve. 
  • Eliminate Duplicate ContentThis is a tough one for manufacturers because you tend to have technical content, manufacturer descriptions, and product guides that a ton of people copy and use. Do what you can to make sure that the content on your site is original, and you’ll see better performance. 
  • Pay Attention to Meta Data – Title tags, meta descriptions, image alt text, and other little technical updates can go a long way to improve your search engine performance. If you don’t know what these are, check out this guide to SEO Meta Tags, and get to work!

 

We’re not spending a ton of time here because there’s a lot of info out there about SEO, and also because it’s not strictly a website design best practice. That said, if you want to see eyeballs on your site, it’s worth it to invest in some quality SEO updates. 

Intelligent Design From Your Logo to Landing Pages

What do I mean by intelligent design? 

I mean solid, clear branding, and a design that funnels visitors through the buyer’s journey. 

Wait, design does that?

Yep. We’ve talked about it before in our blog about website design elements that boost conversions

A quality design and intuitive color palette works to draw your customers’ eyes where you want them.

It also solidifies your brand in the mind of your leads — an important characteristic for manufacturers, where you’re typically competing with just a few key brands. If your is the most recognizable, buyers are likely to keep you in mind when they’re ready to make a purchasing decision.

A few intelligent website design best practices to keep in mind include:  

  • Keep your branding consistent. Your logo should always look the same. Use the same color palette, font, and general design guidelines across every platform. 
  • White space is your friend. It’s easy for manufacturing websites to become overrun with text and highly technical content. It’s okay to have a decent amount of content but use white space to break it up. Letting your website breathe will go a long way to make visitors feel more comfortable, and less overwhelmed on your site. 

  • Use strong elements sparingly, and with intention. It’s great to have a few bold colors in your color palette, but be sure you’re using them sparingly. On any given page, you shouldn’t be trying to pull your visitor’s eyes in more than one or two key directions. Calls to action and chatbots are two great examples.

A little bit of intuitive design can go a long way. When your design is consistent across platforms, you’ll start to build that brand awareness that’s so important in manufacturing industries.

When you use intelligent design on your website, you’ll highlight call-to-action buttons and forms on landing pages, helping those potential leads convert that much faster. 

Eye- Catching CTAs

This goes to our point about intelligent design. A well-designed website with a consistent, smart color palette can do a lot to pull the eyes of your leads and visitors to the information that’s most important to you. 

When it comes to a manufacturing website, conversions are everything. 

There’s only so much technical information you can put out there before your leads are going to need personal one-on-one help from your marketing or sales team. 

CTAs, or calls-to-action, are what work to convert those visitors into leads. 

By designing calls-to-action that are bright, bold, and eye-catching, you can ensure that whenever your visitors have a question, there’s a CTA opportunity for them to reach out. 

The key to lead generation is providing the right content, to the right person, at the right time. Click To Tweet

You’ve already got two out of three — someone who cares about what you have to say is on your site (they’re the right person). If they’re there for any length of time, that means they’ve found some sort of content they care about (the right content). 

Your CTA delivers that third component — the right time.  

If that lead has a question about what they’re reading, or better yet, has decided they want to talk to a salesperson, a well-placed and well-designed CTA will catch their eye. 

This is exactly the right time to convert that lead, and your CTA is clearly visible and ready to help them out. 

This is one of the reasons it’s so important not to discount design when you’re developing or redesigning a website. If your CTAs are easy to see and navigate to, you’ll see conversions off of pages that offer the right content. If they’re poorly designed or hidden on your page, you’re missing out on qualified leads. 

Strategic Navigation

Manufacturers are notorious for crazy navigation menus. And we get it — you’ve got a lot of products, case studies, brochures, and materials for people to look at. That’s all awesome content, and you do want people to see it. 

It just doesn’t all have to be in your top menu. 

When a visitor shows up to your site and they see a menu with 15 different options, it’s overwhelming. It’s tough to find what they’re looking for, and it might even turn them away. 

Implementing strategic navigation is a website design best practice that works to funnel site visitors exactly where you want them. Work to narrow your navigation or menu bar down to just four or five options, and a contact button. 

And honestly, the simpler the better. “Products”, “Solutions”, “About Us” and your traditional standbys are all great for your top-menu navigation because they’re what your visitors expect. Navigation isn’t the place to reinvent the wheel. 

And if you have more stuff than what fits in your new, strategic navigation bar? Don’t forget the footer! Your website footer is a great place to add a few extra links if you really need them. 

Responsive Design

One key website design best practice that manufacturers can’t overlook is a responsive design. The goal of your website is to draw in qualified leads, right? 

It’ll have a hard time doing it if it’s not designed to meet visitors where they’re at. 

Mobile devices account for more than half of all internet traffic. 

What does that mean for your manufacturing website?

It has to be responsive.

Visitors will navigate away from a website that doesn’t meet their device. What’s more, you’ll lose in search engine rankings without a responsive site. 

Websites that are not responsive rank much lower on search engines than websites that do. This is a problem in two ways:

  1. You won’t get much traffic (read: qualified leads) to your website
  2. Your competitors will outrank you

As we’ve mentioned before, most manufacturing industries are pretty competitive. Even if your competitor’s website isn’t that great, they’re going to rank higher if theirs is responsive, and yours is not. 

In an industry where exposure and reputation really matter, this is an issue, and it’s one that’s pretty easily solved. 

Designing your website on a responsive theme can provide huge dividends, both in your company’s authority, and in the qualified traffic you’re able to draw in. 

Content That Speaks to Your Ideal Buyer

Manufacturers are great at technical content. Your sales team probably has stacks or digital files full of product brochures that run through the specs of any product or part you sell.

The problem with that content is that it’s not always digestible, and it’s also not always the content your buyers want. 

Depending on where your leads are in the buyer’s journey, a product guide might not answer the questions they have about your product. It’s important to develop content that speaks directly to the questions and concerns your ideal buyer has. 

Not sure who your ideal buyer is? We’ve got a Step-By-Step Guide to Defining Your Buyer Persona here to help you out. 

Yes, sometimes that means technical content, but it also means developing content that builds your authority. Content that shows your visitors and potential buyers that you have the best, most helpful information, and are an authority in the industry is what will help you build positive relationships that close sales. 

Think about what would be helpful to you if you were in your ideal buyer’s shoes

Is is it a guide that helps them figure out which of your products is best for them? Maybe it’s a simple glossary of the technical terms they’ll need to know. 

Whatever it is, take some time to build out a bit of quality content that is genuinely helpful. 

The more answers your ideal leads can find on your website, the more often they’ll come back, and the more likely they are to purchase from you when they’re ready to make a decision.

Intuitive Content Layout

Great content is one key to a great manufacturing website, but an intuitive content layout is the website design best practice that will ensure your leads are reading that great content. 

Today’s internet user is not a hard-core reader. No one, not even content strategists like me, read every word in every blog post, case study, or article. 

What they do is skim. 

If your web design strategy includes a content layout that calls attention to the most important parts of your blogs and guides, you can guarantee those leads are reading the information that you know is most important to them. 

A great content layout is the difference between someone glancing at your blog and navigating away and someone filling out a conversion form that turns them into a lead. 

Develop a content layout with lots of whitespace, regular images, media, and headers to break up large blocks of text. 

This will help ensure your site visitors are reading as much of your content as possible. The more they read, the more likely they are to stick to your site, and keep coming back. 

Not sure what great content layout looks like? Take a look at our pillar page for Website Design. There’s a ton of content on this page, but because we’ve got an awesome lead designer, Laura, none of it feels overwhelming. 

You get one little bite-sized piece of content at a time, along with some cool motion and visuals. This encourages you to keep reading — who doesn’t have time for one more little sentence? 

In that way, our pillar pages are working to keep visitors on the page with a killer content layout. 

Motion, Interactivity, and Video

Jumping off the last point: motion, interactivity, and especially video are key web design elements for any manufacturing website. 

You’ve got a facility, right? A plant, a factory, a shop? 

Whatever you call it, you make things. Chances are you’ve got some cool machines and some cool people working for you. Take a video of them, and include it in your web design! 

Video is quickly becoming one of the top web design best practices for any industry, but it’s especially effective for manufacturers because you have things going on. 

What’s more, it’s probably ten times easier to explain your product in a video than it is in a lengthy brochure. 

Video — along with interactivity and motion on your site — works to keep people on your website. 

And, as we’ve mentioned before, the longer someone is on your site, the more likely they are to convert. 

For manufacturers, yes, cool scrolling headers and a bit of motion on the page are great, but we really can’t stress video enough. 

We’ve worked with many B2B manufacturers, and video always works to boost conversions. 

People love to see how things work, and if they can watch a 30-second video over reading a product brochure, they're going to do it every time. Click To Tweet 

If you’re the one with the 30-second video on your site, you’re going to be the one to get the lead. 

Interactive Chatbots

Most B2B manufacturers serve a highly technical industry. 

Whether your site visitors are looking for the right product for their application, or aren’t sure which parts they need for their particular machine, chatbots are a great way to ensure your company is always available to answer those questions, whenever they come up. 

Chatbots can be set to specific product pages and customized in a million different ways to fit your manufacturing company’s needs. 

Are there questions you get all the time about your product line that can be answered easily? Do you have a helpful guide or content that solves some of those questions?

You can set a chatbot up to address any of these problems. Not only does this help you convert leads, but it frees up both your sales and marketing teams from answering simple questions over and over. 

Website Design Best Practices for Manufacturers

Web design isn’t always easy for manufacturers. If you’re new to the process, it can be tough to marry highly technical products and components with a creative, intuitive design that also works to draw in and convert leads. Implementing some of these website design best practices should help. 

Not sure where to start? We get it. Form and function aren’t always easy to put together. We’ve been designing websites that work for manufacturers for decades. If you’re ready for a website that delivers qualified leads directly to your sales team, we’re ready to help.

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6 Website Design Elements that Boost Conversions

6 Website Design Elements that Boost Conversions

6 Website Design Elements that Boost Conversions

Here at Evenbound, we’re all about function. We don’t believe in beautiful websites that just don’t work. We do believe in great design. Website design can make or break your website. And let’s not forget that your website is at the center of your digital marketing strategy. If you don’t have a great website, you’re not going to see digital conversions. Here are a few key website design elements you need to tune-up if you’re looking to boost conversions:

#1 Clear Navigation

Your web designer has total power to direct your visitors wherever he or she wants. Navigation is a huge component of driving conversions. Those items that you include in your menu bar can make or break a visitor’s experience on your site. They’re also a great way to make it really clear exactly what you do. Navigation is a key website design element that you can optimize specifically for the purpose of increased conversions.

If you’re building a website and you want to optimize conversions, minimize what’s on your top navigation menu. If you have 5 different dropdowns with 7 different options each all in the top header, you’re not making it easy for your visitors to figure out where they want to go. 

Try to narrow your navigation down to just a few options, and make sure that at least one of those options leads to a contact page or a click to call link. 

I am going to call out our navigation for a second here because it’s got a cool feature that’s all about conversions. If you hover over the “Let’s Talk” button on our top navigation, you’ll see it pulls up a dropdown. 

Let's Talk

There are four options here: Give us a Call, Send Us a Message, Schedule a Meeting, and Live Chat. 

All of these actions lead to a conversion, but it offers that contact option in the way that best suits the user. If they’re ready to talk now, they can call us immediately. If they’re busy, they have an option to schedule a meeting or a call whenever is right for them. If they’re on the fence, they can just drop us a line. 

This website design element makes it easy for people to contact us however they want. They have the options they need, but in a way that’s well designed and that doesn’t feel cluttered. 

#2 Content Layout

Let’s be real here. I could write all day, but if we didn’t have a killer layout from our lead designer Laura, you wouldn’t read half of this stuff. Chances are you’re already skimming anyway. Thanks to Laura you’ll at least read the headlines, the stuff in bold, and maybe a few bullet points.

Writing for the web is a different ball game. Audiences just don’t read straight through anything anymore. Study after study has shown that headlines, bold headers, and maybe a few paragraphs get serious attention from the average web browser. Beyond that, I’ve got to come up with something really good to keep your attention.

Design helps out with this A TON. Content layout is a website design element you just can’t overlook.

You’ll notice that well-designed websites do what they can to put out strong content, but accept that most readers aren’t going to hang on every single word. The way your web designer lays out your content has a huge impact on how much of that content gets read. 

The better your layout, the more people will read it. And the longer you have people reading content and sticking to your pages, the more likely you are to get a conversion. 

#3 Strong, Recognizable Branding

When people know who you are, they’re comfortable converting. If they make it to your site and say, “oh yeah, I know these guys”, they’re not going to worry over submitting an email address or making a conversion — they’re comfortable enough to just do it. That’s a website design element we like to call branding.

If your site looks totally different from your content on social media or your logo elsewhere, then you will run into problems getting those conversions. People don’t recognize your brand, so they won’t feel comfortable making a conversion.

Again, quality web design can help here. Your designer can create an overarching design that reflects your brand, and carry those same design qualities across all of your digital platforms.

From your profile picture on Facebook to your Instagram feed, it’s important that whenever a potential lead runs into your company, they recognize you immediately as the same company they ran into on your website or somewhere else. 

#4 Intuitive, Intentional Color Palette

Your color palette is one of those web design elements that doesn’t need to blow anybody’s mind, but is easily noticed if it’s done wrong. 

When done right, a well-designed website that makes use of an intentional color palette does a great job of encouraging conversions. It’s a web design element that tends to get looked over, but it’s actually quite useful. 

Using pops of color on calls-to-action and important information, you’re working to guide the user’s eye exactly where you want it to go.

Not to toot our own horn here, but our new site is a good example of an intentional color palette. Take a look:

The main colors are bold black and white. In this screenshot of our home page, you can see that the CTA is highlighted in a bright pop of blue. This does the work of drawing attention to that CTA, which is where we want people to go to make a conversion. 

Your color palette can work similarly. Choose options that reflect your brand and your logo, but don’t feel like you need to get crazy. Your color palette should highlight key information and make it easy for visitors to navigate to the places on your site where they can make a conversion. 

#5 White Space

White space is a huge web design trend in 2020. It doesn’t just make your website look better, it’s also a great tool to boost conversion. 

It’s also a great way to increase your time on page. If you’ve ever taken a look at the sites of content marketing experts like Neil Patel, you’ll notice they use plenty of whitespace throughout their website, but especially on content-heavy pages like blogs. 

This doesn’t just work to make for an aesthetically pleasing blog. It’s also a key way to increase time on page. The more whitespace you have on content pages, the more people will read. 

Today’s consumer can look at about two or three lines of text at a time. Any more than that is overwhelming. Whitespace works to break up lots of text, guiding those readers farther and farther into your website. 

SEOs and digital marketers know that the longer someone is on your website, the more likely they are to convert. 

#6 Responsive Design

If your website isn’t responsive, you’re missing out on a key website design element that will lead to conversions. Responsive design is one of the most basic needs of any website. 

More than half of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices. If your website isn’t designed for those viewers, you’re missing out on a huge portion of qualified leads who could be converting.

Those leads will come to your site, notice it looks terrible on their phone or tablet, and move on to another site that offers the same information in a better format. Then your competition gets that conversion, and you miss out.

It's a shame that I've still got to say it, but if your site isn't responsive, you're losing. Click To Tweet When I say a “responsive site”, I don’t just mean a website that has a mobile version and a desktop version. 

Screens come in so many shapes and sizes. It’s important to ensure that your site is designed to adapt beautifully to any screen in any size. That’s truly responsive design, and that’s design that will boost conversions.

Website design elements can and will boost your conversion rate.

Functional, clear design with an intuitive digital marketing strategy and a website that’s optimized for search engines, is an unstoppable combination that always leads to growth. If you’re not sure why your website isn’t converting, or if you’re looking for ways to boost that conversion rate, let us know. We’re here to help. 

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Top Web Design Trends of 2020

Top Web Design Trends of 2020

Top Web Design Trends of 2020

There’s a lot of new going on already in 2020, but one thing we’re particularly excited for here at Evenbound is new web design trends! Since we recently rebranded and updated our entire website, web design is something we’ve had on the brain for a while now. We thought we’d take some of the lessons we’ve learned about new and upcoming trends in web design, and put them into this blog. So without further ado, here are some of the top web design trends for 2020: 

Solid Frames of White Space

If we could pick just one favorite web design trend of 2020, it would definitely be white space.  (Or clean, minimalist themes. Who could pick just one favorite?) Old, clunky websites with huge blocks of text just aren’t cute, and they’re really hard to look at and navigate. 

2020 is the year of minimalism, and that means plenty of white space, which we love. Click To Tweet White space offers immediate, clear organization, and makes it easier for the user to digest everything that’s on the page. 

For all of our SEO fans out there, it’s also a great way to increase your time-on-page. The more whitespace your design has, the more likely a reader is going to stick around. Since they’re getting little bite-sized pieces of information that don’t feel taxing to read, they’re more likely to keep on reading. 

Minimalist Navigation

Great web design makes the user’s life easier. One trend that’s working hard to help site visitors out in 2020 is minimalist navigation. Designers are taking old, bulky dropdowns and bloated menus and turning them into sleek navigation options. Take this menu from Google as an example: with just four available buttons, it’s hard to get lost on this site. 

Ueno is another great example. As soon as you scroll below the fold, the menu minimizes into just two little lines, helping keep the menu from breaking up the design of the rest of the page. But, as soon as you click the lines, their full menu pops right up, ensuring the viewer doesn’t lose any functionality. 

Minimalist Design With Maximized Text and Headers

It’s 2020 and words are back in! (Thank goodness, my content writing job kind of depends on it.) We’ve talked about how minimalist design is taking over, but with that comes a new focus on big text and massive headers. 

This is a design trend that really works to help the reader. It makes it easy for visitors and causal scrollers to see what’s most important on a page, and quickly jump to the sections that answer their questions. 

From a design standpoint, this is a trend that brings impact. When your website is designed with a minimalist style, and all elements are clean, neutral, and sleek, a bold header seriously stands out. The combination delivers an updated, modern feel that makes your website look professional, without being boring. 

Soft Shadows, Layers, and Floating Elements

In 2020, design is all about taking busyness and clutter out but keeping visual interest in. Click To Tweet Though most sites have been stripped down to a clean, minimalist design, we’re adding fun and depth to those clean looks with shadows, layers, and floating elements.

You can see here on our site how our images look like they’re floating off the page, and our HubSpot Gold badge is layered on top of the image. HubSpot’s page has a similar effect, layering the most important image on top of more subtle backgrounds to really make it stand out on the page. 

This trend does a great job of making a site look beautiful and interesting, without getting too cluttered or overwhelming for the user. These elements also work to show your user where they should be putting their focus.

Motion and Interactivity

In 2020, flat websites are over. Exciting, interactive, and visual websites are taking charge by adding motion to the average web-user’s experience. You’ve already seen a bit of motion here on the Evenbound site, as visual elements slide in from the left, right, top, and bottom of the page. If you head to Ueno’s website, you’ll see elements moving everywhere on their site, but in a way that adds to the user’s experience, rather than distracting from it. 

Interactivity is also a big up-and-coming trend. It’s taking off a little bit slower, because it takes more work to implement, but when done properly it’s a great design element to wow visitors, and to keep them engaging with your site. Again, Ueno has mastered this element with “The Interview“. The image below gives you a quick idea of what that looks like, but head on over to their site if you want to interact with it yourself. 

Text-Only Heroes

Big headers and text are popular this year, but a new trend that’s really taking hold in 2020 is text-only heroes. This is a great way to get a message across, it’s visually very clean, and it offers the added benefit of being light and fast to load. Massive header images have been slowing down page speed for years, so it’ll be nice to see some super-responsive, bold heroes. 

Illustrations

Illustrations in web design are one of the most popular trends of 2020. The contrast between handmade and digital visual elements is a hot trend right now, and people are loving the visual interest that cute illustrations bring to an otherwise clean and minimalist site.  

Chatbots

It’s possible that chatbots don’t exactly fit into “design”, but they are an important top trend for websites in 2020. And, since you have to design them, we’re keeping them in this blog. 

Chatbots essentially bridge the gap between you and your consumer. They offer up an instant form of communication that makes it easy for consumers to ask questions the minute they think of them. 

The best chatbots are simple and specific. Check out these three examples below. None of them are obtrusive, but they all invite the visitor to engage with the website in a specific, meaningful way. 

Accessibility for Visitors with Disabilities

When we talk about digital accessibility, we’re talking about building and designing websites in a way that’s inclusive to individuals who have visual, motor, auditory, speech, or cognitive disabilities. Here’s a great resource if you’d like some in-depth info about how to easily design your website for everyone

In 2020, the internet is only getting more popular, and since the majority of us use it every day, it’s important that we make our website accessible to everyone. For web designers, that means designing with accessibility in mind. Adding features like larger text size, as you can see we did for this client below, go a long way in helping everyone use the internet with ease.

Other digital accessibility features you’re going to see more of this year include, but certainly aren’t limited to: 

    • Designing with greater color contrast so those with visual disabilities can still see every aspect of your website. 
    • Including labels and instructions with form fields so the visually impaired can understand what they need to type in each form field. 
    • Web design that allows for keyboard navigation

Web Design Trends in 2020 Put the User First

This year’s most popular design trends have one thing in common — they’re all working to help deliver a better, more seamless experience for the user.

Clean, minimalist designs make it easy to notice and understand the information on a web page that is most important. Interactive elements and motion also help draw attention to key images and portions of a page, without making a subtle design feel cluttered. All of these trends are working together to ensure you are able to quickly identify, and navigate to, the information you need to answer your questions or solve your pain points. 

With web design trends like these, the internet is only becoming more accessible and user-friendly, and we’re sure here for it. And in case you haven’t already, be sure to click around our new website to see some of these new web design trends in action!

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6 Website Design Tips for SMBs

6 Website Design Tips for SMBs

6 Website Design Tips for SMBs

Small to mid-sized businesses have unique needs and constraints when it comes to designing a website. More so than with larger businesses, who can hire their own in-house web design teams, SMBs have the challenge of finding a great web designer or firm, keeping on top of the process, and, of course, finding money in the budget for the project. Here are 5 website design tips for SMBs to help guide you through the process.

#1 Remember That it’s Always a Work in Progress

A website is never really “done.” Which is exactly the opposite of what you want to hear, but it’s true. The internet is constantly and rapidly changing, as is the way people interact with it. This means that your website needs to roll with the punches and be adaptable to change.

Unlike the standard, static marketing assets of the past, like billboards or pamphlets, your website is dynamic. Visitors aren’t just looking at an image or reading text—they’re looking at your images, reading your text, submitting forms, clicking on menus and links, and hitting the call button. This means that all of those things need to be working, all the time and that those things can break or become outdated, and they’ll need to be updated.

Plus, the internet loves things that are new. Regularly adding and refreshing your website design and content are critical to providing website visitors with the best experience and to achieve your desired ranking in search results.  

#2 Hire a Professional to Design your Site

We cannot stress this enough: Hire a professional to design your site. There are a lot of reasons why you should do this, but the most compelling are that your site is too important to DIY and that when it comes to website design, you’re usually getting what you pay for.

Yes, there are a lot of programs out there that claim to allow you to design beautiful custom sites for free, and some of them are great—for bloggers or personal websites. 

If you have a niche Etsy business knitting Game of Thrones costumes for cats, and you think it’s time for a website, one of those free website builders is probably a good tool for you. 

You don’t have the budget or the need for anything truly custom on your site, and you’re not going to lose potential customers with a less than perfect user experience on your site—if someone really wants a GoT cat costume, you’re probably the only place they can get it.

But if you’re running a small to mid-sized business that operates more in the professional realm, those free website builders don’t have what you need. 

While they claim to offer custom sites, you’re provided with a limited range of templates to choose from, most of which are fairly basic in their appearance and functionality. You might be able to customize those templates, to an extent, if you’re skilled with CSS (and often, embark on a paid subscription with the solution). And, quite frankly, there are a lot of things those free website building platforms just can’t support, things like external landing pages, employee or client portals, and complicated site maps with extensive menus and pathways.

#3 No Really, Hire a Professional

Okay, so you might see this and think, “that’s fine, I won’t use a free website building platform. But I still don’t have to hire a pro. The IT team/person can code a website for us for free.” Please, we beseech you, do not do this. 

While we’re sure that your IT team is full of skilled professionals with great levels of talent, this isn’t a great idea for a couple of reasons:

The first being that a custom hard-coded website will be inaccessible to non-coders. If your IT team builds it, there won’t be a user interface that say, HR can log into to update the job postings. All changes will have to go through someone who knows how to code.

Additionally, if the person or people who built your site ever leave your company, you could be left with a website on your hands that no one can update, and in the worst-case scenario, a PR nightmare when a disgruntled employee who built the site has complete control over it.

Especially since you run an SMB, you don’t have the bandwidth or the payroll to have all your website design handled in-house. But hiring a website designer can provide you a high-quality, attractive, functional website that you can access and update. 

#4 Choose a Good Platform to Build it in

We already touched on this a little in the previous section, but don’t use a free website builder. It’s not going to be a robust solution or give you all the functionality that you need. Instead, choose a platform that is going to give you all the functionality you need, and be something that you can use. So stay away from Wix.com and opt for something a little more heavy-duty, like Drupal, Joomla, or WordPress.

There are a lot of internal stakeholders in a company website, even in an SMB. After all, a website isn’t just a marketing or sales tool, it’s also an asset for customer service, HR, employees, and other people and departments internally. 

This can mean that there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen; HR needs to update job postings, customer service needs to live chat with site visitors who have questions, the marketing manager needs to log in to approve and post blog posts, etc. 

All of these people (and more) need login credentials, so your site’s backend needs to accommodate that. But not only do these people need to log in to the back end, they need to have clearly defined permissions, and they also need to be able to find and do what they need to do, without having to become coders themselves. The back end UX needs to be almost as good as the front end UX to ensure that all of the moving parts keep moving in sync.

#5 Make Sure That You Can Make Changes

This goes back to what we said before about hiring a professional and not hard-coding a site, as well as choosing a good platform to build your website in. It even hearkens back to point #1: remember that it’s always a work in progress. You’re going to need to make changes to your website—all the time. You need to make sure it’s easy to do that.

For the things you can change internally (updating some text, etc.), you need to make sure the platform you build your site with and the content management system (CMS) has multiple logins and permission levels, and that it’s user-friendly.

For the bigger things, you need to make sure that you can easily get those changed when you need to. Part of that is having a good relationship with your website designer. Are they transparent and communicative? Do they follow through and stick to the schedule? 

Another aspect is using a CMS like WordPress that’s somewhat universal. If your web designer goes on vacation or the firm you were using shutters its doors, you’ll need a site that another designer can access and update as the need arises.

#6 Work With Your Website Designer

Designing a website is not something your website designer can do in a vacuum. You’re going to have to provide your designer with information to go on—more than just your company name, your logos, and the pages that you want. Your website designer is going to need to have a sense of not only what your company does but how you do it, and what your brand is. This includes your logos and colors, but encompasses so much more, like the tone of your content and the kind of language you use, as well as the most intuitive ways to structure the information on your site.

Your website designer is going to need to get a sense of your company’s identity, so that your site can adequately communicate your brand identity to website visitors and your future customers. The designer is creating the site, but it needs to look and read and navigate in a way that is authentic to your brand, relevant to your industry, and inviting to your potential clients. The designer is going to need your collaboration and cooperation to do this.

So, share as much information as you can about your company, your processes, and your needs and vision for your new website design. They’re also going to need access to things like originals of your logos, brand style guides, and other image assets. Any marketing materials or other public-facing company documents can also be useful to your website designer, too.

Thinking about building a website for your SMB? We’d love to help. We’ve got serious experience building sites for SMBs in a variety of industries, from manufacturing to home building to construction. We’d love to help build yours too

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What to Know About the Website Design Process

What to Know About the Website Design Process

What to Know About the Website Design Process

Designing a new website is an exciting—and anxious—time! It can open your business up to a whole new set of prospects and leads and modernize your marketing and sales strategy. But if you’ve never done it before, or it’s been a good long while since your site was last updated, the web design process can seem opaque and confusing. 

Here’s what to know about the website design process to ensure it goes smoothly:

Share All the Information You Can at Your Initial Sessions

The web design process begins with a discovery phase or a brainstorming session, where you share information about your business. This covers the gamut, from what you do and how you do it to your products to your logo to your design preferences to your ideal customers. 

Everything and anything you can share with your website design team will be valuable. 

Why? 

Because your site not only needs to be beautiful and functional, it needs to convey important information to website visitors, convert those visitors into leads, and do it in your brand’s voice. In order to do this, the team designing your website will need to know your audience—who is going to be visiting your website—so your site can communicate with them effectively.

Give Your Designer Somewhere to Start 

Sharing all you can with your website designer or design team doesn’t only apply to information—it also applies to documents, images, and other useful resources and assets.

Any existing marketing materials like brochures, photos, logos, flyers, and customer-facing informational documents can be extremely helpful to your designer in:

(a) understanding what your company does

(b) understanding your brand voice

(c ) including those assets (like logos) on your site

Share All Logo Files

When it comes to sharing assets, particularly logos, make sure you share everything. This helps ensure a smooth web design process.

The .jpg of your logo that you use in your email signature isn’t going to be enough: your website designer will need access to the originals in any and every format you have them in order to format them correctly to display on your website and provide visitors with a consistent brand experience. We’re talking .psd, .png, .tif, .jpg, all of them.

If you don’t have these assets, and you’ve just been using a 20 KB .jpg image in all of your brand communications, talk to your website designer about your options. They may be able to create a web-ready version of your logo, or direct you to someone who can.

Hand Over the Reins

For a website design process to be successful, you have to relinquish some control to the designer. If you want total control over the design of your website, you’d have to design it yourself. And with your existing responsibilities, you just don’t have time to do it. Plus, even though you’re an expert in your field, you’re probably not also a web design or graphic design expert. 

This is true of your employees as well. Even if your technical writer is amazing and you think she could write your website content and you have an IT guy who knows a bunch of coding languages, it’s still best to hire pros. 

Website designers have the expertise and the time that your employees with other specialties and duties simply don’t have. Your IT guy needs to be troubleshooting computer issues, not tied up hard-coding your site. 

Plus, hiring professionals to design your site ensures that your site is up-to-date with the latest web design best practices, future-proofed for upcoming changes, and that a disgruntled employee with admin access to your site doesn’t cause unprecedented damage to your brand and reputation on their way out the door.

Let the Designer Do Their Job

This goes along with the last point. You have to trust the designer to do the job you hired them to do, and you have to let them do it. This means that while you’re allowed to share your vision for the appearance and function of the site, you can’t dictate every last thing down to the placement of every button.

Web designers are skilled and credentialed professionals with years of experience designing websites, and they know the best practices for how your site navigation show work and where buttons should be placed. 

If they say you shouldn’t only have one page for all of your services, but to break them out into multiple pages, there’s a good reason for that. If you choose to go against your website designer’s recommendations, the designer might give you what you ask for, but you’ll be hamstringing your site in terms of user experience and SEO performance. 

The Web Design Process Doesn’t Happen Overnight

Website design is not as easy as just plugging your information into an already created shell and just changing the colors. It takes time to lay out the sitemap, write the page content, create visual assets and design elements, research keywords, gather information about your company and offerings and put all of that together to create a website. 

Plus, there are many factors that will influence how long your site design takes. How quickly do you get back to the designer with information? How quickly do you approve concepts or content? How many pages will your site need to be? What special features or design elements does your site require? Adding on to any of these factors will add to the length of the design process.

Some designers will tell you that they can create a custom website for you super quickly and super cheaply—this is usually too good to be true. In these cases, you’ll likely get what you paid for: a “custom” design that looks mysteriously like a bunch of other sites you’ve seen on the web, stretched out and pixelated graphics, broken links, and typos. While a good solution today might be better than a perfect solution tomorrow, a bad solution is never the right option, even if it could have been implemented yesterday.

Interested in building your own company’s website? We’d love to help. As an inbound marketing and growth agency, we develop websites that are both beautiful and functional. Get in touch to see what we can build for you.

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Building Better Landing Pages With HubSpot

Building Better Landing Pages With HubSpot

Building Better Landing Pages With HubSpot

When it comes to nearly any digital marketing strategy, landing pages are absolutely essential. The way you build, track, and optimize your landing pages can make or break your lead generation strategy, which is why we’re going to talk about building better landing pages using HubSpot’s landing page tool. But first, let’s make sure we’re all starting on the same page (no pun intended):

What is a Landing Page?

A landing page is any web page a visitor lands on when they navigate to your website from somewhere else. Technically, a landing page could be any page on your website — your home page, a blog, or a services page. But if you’re doing digital marketing right, your landing page is an important lead capture tool that looks a little something like this.

What’s On a Good Landing Page?

We’ve covered just about all there is to cover when it comes to building a landing page, so if you’re looking for more in-depth information about what a landing page is, why you need one, and what a good one looks like, check out these awesome blogs for more detailed information:

To give you a quick refresher, just know that a great landing page has these four key elements: 

  • Attention-Grabbing Title
  • Helpful, Concise Content
  • Interesting Imagery
  • Easy to Complete Contact Form

These four elements make up the basic design of an awesome landing page.  

What Does HubSpot Have to do With Building Better Landing Pages?

If all you need is a title, content, an image, and a contact form, then how hard could building a landing page be?

Honestly, the design and build of your landing page is just a small component of a great landing page. The goal of any landing page is not just to get you leads, but also to give you information about the overall success of the product, offer, or event you’re promoting with this landing page.

Okay, So How Can I Use HubSpot to Build Better Landing Pages?

Now that we know why we care about HubSpot landing pages, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of building a better landing page with HubSpot CRM. HubSpot offers a ton of features with their landing page tool, so while we won’t cover every single one in this blog, we will cover the features most important to the success of your lead generation and digital marketing strategy. Let’s start with our favorite benefit of HubSpot’s landing pages:

Optimize with Detailed Reporting

HubSpot’s best landing page feature is the detailed reporting they offer. You can assign landing pages to a specific campaign (more on this next), attach a landing page to a workflow, and generally just see everything you’ve ever wanted to know about how your visitors and leads are interacting with your offers, products, and events. A HubSpot landing page report looks a little like this: 

While HubSpot’s reporting is interactive, this image still gives you a great initial feel for how much data you can receive.HubSpot can tell you exactly how many views, submissions and new contacts that landing page delivers. Click To TweetIt will also tell you where those views, submissions, and contacts are coming from, whether that’s organic traffic, referrals, direct traffic, etc.  

You also get a bunch of helpful information that tells you how people are reacting to the landing page, like what the page’s bounce rate is, what its exit rate is, and how long (on average) people spend on that landing page. All of this data can help you improve your landing pages for even better performance.

For example, let’s say your bounce rate is really high. That tells you that people coming to your landing page aren’t getting what they thought they were going to get. Maybe your landing page is still connected to an old ad or an old social media post that’s no longer making the same offer.

You can use HubSpot’s reporting to see where the visitors to that landing page are coming from and troubleshoot your high bounce rate from there. Now that’s optimization made easy.

Inbound Marketing Tools that Improve your HubSpot Landing Pages

In addition to offering you in-depth data and reporting on the performance of your landing page, HubSpot has really geared their landing page tool to help inbound marketers succeed. Their landing pages are paired with some exceptionally robust inbound marketing tools that make your landing pages work for you, without you putting in a ton of extra work. This is where the HubSpot landing page feature really starts to flex its muscles.

Here are just a few of the tools we love to use when we create our own HubSpot landing pages:

Add to Workflow

You’re into marketing automation, right? Us too. HubSpot makes it really easy to associate any new landing page with an existing workflow. Just click the “Add to Workflow” button, and any contact who completes the landing page form will immediately be entered into the workflow of your choice. This is great when you’re building landing pages for specific content offers or webinars geared to just one buyer persona.

Send a Follow-Up Email

That all-important follow-up email. Let’s automate it. HubSpot also offers another easy button you can click to send a follow-up email immediately after a lead completes your form. You can develop the follow-up email however you like, but it’s a really important tool to keep those new leads in your sales funnel.

Add to Campaign

 If you’re on the inbound marketing train, you identify potential leads according to their buyer persona. You’ve developed a number of marketing campaigns geared specifically to each of those personas. Easily add a new landing page to any of those campaigns, and track that landing page’s performance in relation to that campaign. This sets you up to get all of the reporting data you need to see how successful your product, offer, or event really is.

SEO Help

One thing we don’t touch on a lot with landing pages is how they help with SEO. The quality of your landing page is one of the big factors Google and other search engines use to determine the quality of your ad. So, if you’re directing a paid search ad to one of your new HubSpot landing pages, you’ll be happy to know that HubSpot makes on-page SEO a breeze.

Custom URL

Easily create a custom URL for your landing page. While any landing page’s URL will default to whatever your page title is, HubSpot makes it easy to change your URL to a more custom option.

This is great when you’re trying to get a particular keyword in there or shorten the URL up so it’s easy to for potential leads to remember or share on social media.  

Meta Description

It’s easy to forget about a meta description when you’re developing landing pages. Since they don’t hold a lot of content, they don’t jump out as an SEO ranking opportunity.

But, writing a quality meta description that tells both visitors and search engines what your landing page is about can be that extra step that sets you apart from the competition.

HubSpot’s landing page builder has an easily accessible meta description field that allows you to write and save a custom meta description to fit your new landing page, so you reap all the potential SEO benefits. 

Quick, Intuitive Layout with HubSpot Templates

Of course, we couldn’t talk about building better landing pages with HubSpot without talking about their handy, fast design features. Whether you’re not comfy as a web designer in your own right, or your in-house designer just doesn’t have time to crank something out every time you need a new landing page, you really don’t have to worry when you’re using the HubSpot landing page tool.

HubSpot offers a variety of landing page templates, or, your in-house designer can develop one or two landing page templates, and you can build out unique landing pages from each of those templates. Either way, you benefit from a beautiful, high-quality design that puts your offer front-and-center, without taking up your entire day.

Simply choose the template that best fits your landing page, and make sure it has those critical four elements we talked about earlier:

  • Title
  • Copy
  • Image
  • Form

Setting up a landing page is as easy as choosing a template, filling in your information, and hitting the publish button.

Simple Drag and Drop Design

Last but not least, we just couldn’t leave this blog alone without mentioning HubSpot’s easy drag and drop landing page builder. While it might not sound like a huge feature, the amount of time it will save you makes it worth mentioning.

When you build your landing page in HubSpot, you can easily add and move around modules on your landing page with a simple drag and drop. Each module will snap into place on your template, making for a flawless design in a fraction of the time it would take you to manually build a page. Whether you’re adding fields to a form, reformatting your landing page’s imagery, or working to get that headline just right, HubSpot’s tools make it easy to develop an intuitive landing page in just a few minutes. 

And that’s our spiel on HubSpot landing pages! If you’re looking for a landing page builder that offers fast, intuitive design, reporting and seamless connectivity for your existing digital marketing strategy, you really can’t beat HubSpot. 

Their landing pages are fast and fun, and you really won’t find better data reporting with any other tool. Combine that with the fact that you can easily connect any HubSpot landing page with an existing campaign, automated workflow, or follow-up email campaign, and you’ve got a robust tool that can help you get way more out of your landing pages.

Not sure if HubSpot’s right for you? No worries. Evenbound is a HubSpot Gold Agency Partner, and we’d be happy to show you the ropes. Get in touch with our team for a quick run-through of HubSpot’s tools, and an honest consultation about whether the platform is right for your company.

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