Why Manufacturers Need Web Designers

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“If I had a pound for every time some smart a**e marketer tells me manufacturers need websites” moaned my friend, a managing director at a specialist tooling suppliers.

“Of course we have a website, we live in the 21st century don’t we?” he continued. “But I’ll tell you now… waste of money. Doesn’t make a blind bit of difference.”

Have you found yourself agreeing with sentiments like these?

When you work in the manufacturing industry dealing with business-to-business proposals and contracts, the idea of bringing in new business via a website can seem a little… incredulous.

It turns out you may be right.

It isn’t a website that makes the difference.

What you need is the right website designer.

The One-Legged Manufacturing Website

You see it wasn’t having a website and an online presence that was failing my dear friend mentioned above. It was the website design.

It had been developed at minimal cost and failed to have in place the necessary processes that would help customers to A. even find the site and B. properly navigate the site.

Apart from the contact page, the website also failed to hold any information that would be useful or interesting to potential clients. He was correct of course, his manufacturing website was “about as useful as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking competition”.

Why is it all about the website designer?

Working within the manufacturing industry, especially the running and managing of a manufacturing business is becoming especially challenging.

Product choice is now available at an international level, and cost driven competition is forcing manufacturers to consider many ways to drive down costs; leaving marketing support trailing behind the bigger, more pressing concerns.

It’s therefore true to admit that supporting manufacturers in developing new business online is not straightforward.

It isn’t a case of creating a nice looking website and expecting it to meet the diverse needs of customers.  For manufacturers to want to spend their strict budgets on websites – they have to be effective.

Creating a manufacturers website that wins new business requires expertise from professionals that understand the industry, that take the time to study your business environment, the sales processes and customer segments.

It takes a knowledgeable website designer with a history of working for, and improving sales for other manufacturers. Not someone who will throw together any old website just to receive a paid stamp on their invoice.

So How Does a Website Designer Improve Business for a Manufacturing Website?

A talented website designer will first consider three aspects:

  • What are your business objectives and marketing goals?
  • How is business conducted and what are the processes involved?
  • What are your customer needs and how can these be met?

Research into these areas will provide a good foundation to start the planning and design of a useful and compelling website.

Website designers understand the potential that the internet now has for generating business for manufacturers. As identified by GlobalSpec surveys referenced in MarketingSherpa, nine out of 10 industrial buyers start with the internet when sourcing products and services”.

So for manufacturing websites, it’s all about research.

Potential clients are still, and will continue to turn to internet searches to find product specifications, prices, delivery options, capabilities and project samples in order to make comparisons and informed decisions.

A good website designer will therefore encourage your manufacturing business to provide this information and will then position useful client information at easily identifiable locations on your website. And an exceptional manufacturing website designer will make sure that it’s your website that is found by potential customers. That it’s your site that is displayed when online searches are conducted.

How can they do this?

  • By designing a responsive website

Industrial buyers are busy people and often on the move. Which means they can be conducting research online from anywhere on a laptop to a tablet or smart phone. Manufacturing website designers will ensure your site is designed in such a way that it can be easily viewed and used on any device your client is using.

  • With Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

In order for your website to appear on the first page of a Google search, it must meet Google’s requirements. An expert website designer will ensure that the right processes, code and content are included when building the website so that Google can easily read through your site and correctly identify your business, products and services.

This sounds a lot easier than it actually is, requiring that the site be developed with right URL structure, accurate tags, titles and keywords so it will be selected by Google as the best site out of many to be presented in search results.

  • Through channel identification

A skilled manufacturing site designer will identify the places online that your target market will use. Perhaps it’s an industry forum, a business social media site like LinkedIn or YouTube, or the even the ad section of a Google search page.

By identifying these processes early, the website can be tailored to exploit these channels with specially developed landing pages, promotional pages and social share options to really boost the brand awareness of your manufacturing products and spread the word of your website across the world wide web.

A company that just churns out website after website won’t take the time and consideration to develop these useful design features at the start; which is why selecting a talented website designer will in the end, pretty much pay for itself.

Generating Sales on Your Manufacturing Website

However, when it comes to manufacturing websites, it’s not about creating online sales and an eCommerce site (the majority of the time). It’s often about generating those leads that develop into larger contracts and continual business.

This should take the manufacturing website designer back to their original research – your business processes and marketing goals.

By using a funnelling technique, a skilled manufacturing website designer can develop a site that expertly funnels your visitors along the right path until they reach your marketing goal; whether that’s completing a sign-up form or making that phone call.

This is where we borrow HubSpot’s inbound marketing infographic because it’s pretty darn helpful [credit: http://www.hubspot.com/inbound-marketing]:

inbound marketing

As you can see from the chart, a website needs to facilitate the journey of clients from strangers to customers, and to promoters (who openly advocate your service to other potential clients).

Website design plays an important role in supporting the sales conversion by first designing a site that intrigues the visitor, and then positioning links and images that lead the visitor further into the site, helping them discover new ideas and services that leave them impressed and seriously considering taking the relationship that little bit further.

There are a number of effective content ideas to use when developing a website – identified here by the Content Marketing Institute as seen in their manufacturing survey results

Content Marketing tactics

[credit:http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2015/03/manufacturing-content-marketing-research/]

Of course, we can’t give away all the secrets, tactics and techniques for converting visitors into clients – and yes, many of them will depend on customer research… but there is one thing you can be sure of…

Once a website has succeeded in drawing in customer interest, encouraging research, delivering the necessary information and motivating action – then you know that you definitely have a valuable asset on your hands and will not be, as my manufacturing buddy so affectionately described “flushing money down the loo.”

With the appropriate monitoring software included by a good website designer, you too can witness for yourself the website’s traffic and performance as well as accumulate vital information on your target market demographics, interests and preferences; all from an expertly designed and planned-out manufacturing website.

So when you really look into the effort that should go in to designing a manufacturing website, it can be true that manufacturers don’t just need a website… they need an expert manufacturing website designer.

To access a comprehensive design plan for a successful manufacturing website from experienced website designers – contact Cocoonfxmedia on 01543 223074 or visit https://www.cocoonfxmedia.co.uk/web-design/

 

Business Web Design; Where to Start?

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 It’s seemed so straightforward. That was until your business idea needed transferring to a web design.

Whether your website plans are to support a growing business, rescue a declining one or promote a great new project – getting the idea from workplace to cyberspace is a whole other matter.

Often businesses start immediately by focusing their web design ideas on other site examples, templates or images. But here at Cocoonfxmedia we’ve seen how jumping straight into graphic web design can cause your marketing objectives to quickly become lost in translation.

So for a truly successful website, web design should start at the very basics – with stakeholder analysis.

Introducing Stakeholder Analysis for Web Design

Knowing your audience is vital when considering what information should be included in your website and how it should look.

After all, your audience are the people that will keep you in business.

But stakeholder analysis isn’t solely about your website audience. It involves those who endorse and use your website internally and externally.

So to properly inform web design, here are some helpful questions for you to consider and then we’ll look at how your answers could influence the final design.

 

Who are the stakeholders that need to be considered for your web design?

If you’re already involved in the running of a business you should have a good idea of who your stakeholders and customers are (otherwise you may want to do a bit of research).

Stakeholders can include more than just customers, they can be staff members who will be using and updating the site, partners that you are representing and management staff that require the site to deliver business objectives within an agreed budget.

Your customers can also be quite different, so it helps to profile them into groups depending on their demographics (or firmographics) so that you can identify those with similar needs and which groups should be your priority.

Impact on Web Design: Incorporating the priorities of your most important stakeholders when starting web design will ensure you start on the right path and avoid having to make large changes later. So next, you need to identify the stakeholders who hold the most influence on the success of your web design.

 

How important is each stakeholder to the success of your site?

Stakeholder mapping is a great way to identify who needs to be considered and consulted during the web design phase. This is where we can use a useful tool frequently referred to as Mendelow’s Matrix; simply add each stakeholder group where you feel they sit in the chart depending on their interest and influence.

stakeholder-mapping

Every matrix will be different – but once completed you will need to remember that stakeholders in quadrant A will need to be kept satisfied (possibly in a legal sense) and those in quadrant B will be the ones that will influence your site the most; their needs should definitely be included in any plans or design requirements.

Impact on Web Design: Once you’ve identified the stakeholders that matter the most for your web design, their needs can be incorporated at the earliest stages, especially when it comes to budgets and the function of the site.

What are the needs of your stakeholders? 

Now we know that we don’t have to worry about pleasing every single stakeholder, we can focus on those with the most influence over the success of your site.

So now it’s time to ask, what does each priority stakeholder need to accomplish from the website? It can help to list 2 or 3 important information needs of each stakeholder; for example:

For your marketing manager:

  1. The ability to easily update content
  2. Easy ways to monitor success and customer conversions

For your target market:

  1. Solutions to questions and concerns easily available
  2. Secure sites for purchasing
  3. Easy ways to make contact
  4. Resources for additional information to support them to make informed decisions

For your partners:

  1. Approval for use of logo and information
  2. Appropriate representation of their brand

For legal bodies:

  1. Meeting agreed terms and conditions
  2. No content or actions that could breach UK legislations

Impact on Web Design: Definite requirements can finally be put into the web design, including how the site will be accessed both by customers and those updating the content, and which additional sections and security is required. This is where professional web designers will include the best approach for usability, accessibility and functionality.

How will your website marketing objectives be met?

With the basis of the web design now in place, it’s time to incorporate your business and marketing objectives – in other words, what do you want the site to deliver?

It may be that you wish the site to generate leads, increase sales or just boost awareness of your brand? It may be all of these, but it’s best to focus efforts on just one at the web design stage.

So if the motivation behind your website is to generate sales, the web design will focus on engaging first time visitors and making the purchase process as simple and efficient as possible

If your objective is to generate leads, the web design will need to focus on having clear incentives and sign-up details available.

Impact on Web Design: when business objectives are set at the start of the web design stage, they can be built upon so that each decision for content, graphics and layout will all lead towards meeting business goals; making your objectives achievable and easily monitored.

Why will stakeholders use your site?

Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty of web design; user experience.

This is where your knowledge of customer profiles and preferences come in handy.

It’s important to have a website that resonates with the customer; if it’s informal and fun, it may appeal to the younger generation, but that approach may not work if your customers are serious and professional businesses.

So identify why your customers are there.

Are they looking for prices? Or are they searching for product specifications? Maybe they want to find reviews or answers to unique questions. If you fail to include quality content that your customers seek out, you could lose out to competitors.

Once you’ve determined the content and details to be included on your site, it now needs to be displayed in a way that can be easily viewed and navigated through expert web design structures and visuals – but based on the expectations and preferences of your audience.

Impact of Web Design: Structures used for web designs will vary depending on the audience preferences and purpose of the site. The main elements of web design at this stage are to make it as efficient as possible for users to complete tasks, which in turn meets your business objectives. Therefore, web design elements will include:

  • site structure: which will mostly be covered during the stakeholder analysis stage and include the function and layout
  • visual design: the colours, graphics, images, screen resolution and device access that meets the preferences of your website user
  • site navigation: ensuring it is easy for users to locate and travel through the site without getting ‘lost’ or ‘confused’ by including a menu and predictable options such as search, contact or FAQ.

Setting Strong Foundations for Successful Web Design

The next stages following your stakeholder analysis and agreed content is for the production of wireframes or blueprints that show how your site will be structured.

Due to the intricacies of web design, we can’t exactly include all aspects of it in this blog such as coding, search engine optimisation, widgets and so forth. However, you can be sure that you’re on to a winner if you start the web design phase by considering the needs of your stakeholders and incorporating business objectives.

And remember to test, test and test your website design to ensure it is meeting the needs of your users and stakeholders. One way is to simply ask.

Ask your users / stakeholders what they like, dislike or find difficult about the site and then fix it.

You could also present two different web designs called A/B testing to see which users prefer and then use the more effective version.

Great web design is an evolving process, and will require reviews, alterations and adjustments every so often to keep up with changing customer behaviours and expectations – but if you’ve laid the groundwork with web design stakeholder analysis, you can be sure you’ll always be on the path to success with your business website.

For a free consultation on professional web design and development, contact Cocoonfxmedia or call 01543 223074.