The website is a manufacturer's most critical marketing asset. A well-designed website can differentiate from the competition, capture more leads and help increase sales. Here are some important factors to consider when evaluating or redesigning your manufacturing website:
Start with a Plan
Start by asking the strategic questions: What are our goals for our website? Who are our users? what information do they need? What are their pain points? What are our goals for users? What content and functionality is required to meet those goals? Your plan should include a requirements list, a sitemap (showing all the pages), timeline, costs, and a process to keep the site updated.
Many company's forget to ask a very important question at the beginning of the website design process—"Where is our brand positioned in the marketplace?" Your homepage is an excellent place to communicate your relevant and meaningful points of differentiation from your competition. Everyone talks about quality, price and delivery, so drill a little deeper and compile a list of true differentiators. Then put each one to the test by asking what your prospects will ask: “So what?” and “What’s in it for me?”.
Many sites tend to have an inward focus (i.e. Our Products, Our Services, About Us, etc. ) These are necessary of course, but your users really want to know if you can solve their problem(s). Design and structure your site from your users’ point of view and what they need. Understand exactly who your users are and what they are looking for. Make it intuitive and help users progress through the purchasing decision process. Make your site easy for your sales team to use during their sales presentations.
The adage "you get what you pay for" is so true here. Too many companies go with the lowest cost option and are disappointed. Investing in a professional, custom design will set you apart from the crowd. Your website is your online salesperson, so it needs to make a good first impression.
Photography & Copywriting
High quality photos make or break a site. Instead of taking snapshots of your products and facility, hire a professional photographer. Avoid stock photos if at all possible. CAD programs can output almost photographic images and in arrangements that cannot always be captured photographically (i.e. product cutaways). Hire a copywriter who is familiar with your industry so that your content has a professional tone and captures the key messages that are important to your potential customers.
Over 25% of searches are performed on mobile devices. Make it easy for users to interact with your site and find what they‘re looking for. If you are redesigning your site, make sure it uses “responsive design” meaning that the page will automatically scale to the user’s screen size. If you don’t have plans to redesign your site in the near future, then create a separate mobile site. Important Note: Google is now penalizing sites in their mobile search results that are not mobile friendly.
The rules of search engine optimization (SEO) have changed. In search, content is king, so make sure you understand who you're targeting and what keywords they use to search for your products or services. Then create corresponding content on landing pages for each keyword phrase. Keep pages updated and make sure to add keywords to page titles, page URLs, meta description and page coontent.
Companies that blog have 55% more website visitors and 88% more leads than those who do not. Blog articles provide you with a channel to broadcast unique and relevent content to your target audiences. Make sure to broadcast blog articles across social media channels for more exposure.
Video is an inexpensive way to engage users and show off your facility, products and services. Video testimonials are more powerful than written testimonials and the best thing about video testimonials is that you can create them with your smartphone.
Call to Actions (CTAs)
After you’ve attracted visitors and impressed them with your design and content, make it easy for them to take the next step in the buying process. Call to actions include: RFQ forms, downloading case studies or whitepapers (make sure you capture their contact information first) and directing them to your contact us page so they can submit a form, email or call you.
Featured Resource: Here's a checklist that will help ensure your next website redesign is a success.