Today, more than any other touch point, a website is the digital soul of a manufacturing organization. All roads lead to it. As one of the leading manufacturing website design and experience design agencies, Elliance has been delivering prosperity with websites for regional, national and global manufacturers for the past 30 years. If we had to distill the sentiments of customers using websites of successful manufacturers, it would boil down to three simple statements: It’s easy to use; I like using it; and I trust it.
Our arsenal of best practices for manufacturing website design includes:
1. Begin with the End in Mind: What Business Problem are you Trying to Solve?
Listed below are nine revenue, reputation and ranking challenges that your website should be able to help you solve:
- Secure new buyers
- Open new markets without increasing headcount
- Retain, grow and cross-sell to existing customers
- Grow strategic buyers while embracing tactical buyers
- Improve capacity utilization
- Reduce sales cycle
- Fortify brand reputation
- Attract and retain talent
- Dominate Google/Bing page one
Above all, defend your core business while liberating new prosperity.
2. Make it Beautiful and Engineer it with Precision
Strategy is invisible. Good design makes it visible. Milton Glaser, the iconic designer, once said “There are only three reactions to a piece of design: no, yes or WOW! Wow is one to aim for.” We couldn’t agree more. Create a beautiful website with contemporary aesthetics. Refresh it every three to five years so it reflects the most current aesthetic.
Engineers love precision. The website design should not only be professional, but it must convey balance, precision and trust.
3. Keep it Human and Convey Expertise
Great manufacturers always remember that prospects, buyers, users, ambassadors and loyalists are real people, with real needs, wants, motivations and ambitions. They never forget that they are in the business of making the lives of their customers easier and helping them realize their ambitions. Be empathetic. Treat customers like human beings. Keep your website experience human.
At the same time, convey expertise, reliability and quality.
3. Make it Mobile-First, Desktop-Friendly & Responsive
Given that more than half of website traffic now comes from mobile devices, build a responsive site that is mobile first. Ensure that third party embeds such as forms, apps and videos are equally mobile-friendly.
The other half of your website users are experiencing it on laptops and desktops. Make sure it scales gracefully on computers with varying screen sizes.
Most importantly, build a responsive website i.e. a single website that automatically adjusts to various viewing devices. This is mission-critical because it’ll influence the Google bot to rank your website higher on search engines.
4. Delight Prospects and Buyers. Make it Useful and Easy-to-use.
You can’t bore people into buying from you. Create a user experience that is persuasive, delightful and conversion-friendly. Recognize that customers, not your company, are the real heroes of the story. Make sure that the needs of the right-fit customers come first. Infuse persuasion architecture at every level. Make it easy for buyers to do business with you.
Here are some smart features worth providing for your smart engineering-minded buyers:
- Product catalog and services – as a quick reference to your offerings
- Custom solutions – to facilitate higher-margin, complex sales
- Project galleries – to showcase your solutions in action
- Markets served – to reduce their risk of buying from you
- Customer stories, testimonials and third-party validations – to reduce their risk of buying from you
- Auto-complete site search – to give quickest path to your products and services
- Faceted search – to show depth and breadth of product (and service) offerings
- Configurators – to engage your buyers
- Resource center – to provide convenient access to all your brochures and spec sheets
- Blog – to convey product and thought leadership
- Customer portal – to enable customers to find answers to routine questions about their past purchase history, warrantees, add-ons, and a whole lot more
- Multi-language support – to facilitate international and multilingual buyers
5. Make it Google/Bing Friendly
If people can’t find you — your company, your products, and your services — they can’t buy you. Google/Bing page 1 is destiny. 90% of users never go beyond page 1 of search results. Organic rankings (i.e. the top 10 natural search results) are clicked more, trusted more, and convert three-folds better than paid ads.
- Begin a website project with a Keyword Lexicon that contains clusters of keywords and phrases spanning your products and services, plus areas of thought leadership, innovation and intellectual capital.
- Bake SEO thinking into every phase of website development: strategy, architecture, copy, design and development. Create buckets for fresh content (blogs, magazines, news, feeds, etc.) which Google/Bing will reward with stronger rankings.
- Apply the website SEO checklist. Write distinct, SEO-friendly page titles. Activate a Robots.txt file. Generate and submit a search engine XML sitemap file. Enable and use the 404 error handling page. Create a sitemap page. Map 301 redirects.
7. Power With Smart CMS Technology
Depending on website requirements, the size of your organization, your need for flexibility and internationalization, availability of in-house technology talent and budgets, you must pick a proprietary, open source or commercial grade CMS that best suits your needs. Ensure it is thoroughly SEO-friendly and plays well with other software components such as analytics, marketing automation software, CRM software, tracking tools, and more.
8. Host it Right
Because websites are mission-critical, people are impatient and Google penalizes slow websites with lower rankings, hosting matters a lot. Ensure your website is hosted securely on a high-speed Tier-1 environment with weekly software and security patches.
9. Sustain With a Content Governance Framework
Because content is the lifeblood of great websites, brands and Google rankings, three things are needed to manage a healthy content ecosystem: people, processes and frameworks. Key components of a content ecosystem include a Keyword Lexicon, Brand Guide, Web Style Guide, and Content Governance Guide. These must be managed periodically, rationally and systematically. They must cultivate the content habit.
10. Measure Website Effectiveness and ROI
Upstream ROI metrics include growth in demand, achievement of thought leadership, and increase in brand value. Keep an eye on downstream metrics also such as bounce rates, conversion rates, time on site, growth in organic traffic, content popularity, expansion in reach, and more. Establish regular meetings to measure ROI.
Over the past 30 years, we have built over 500 websites. We’ve seen website projects become catalysts for organizational transformation. We’ve used deft diplomacy to align internal stakeholders. We’ve brought strategic smarts to create new inflection points helping clients realize their organizational destiny. Every website redesign energized the entire organization. If you choose to work with us, expect nothing less.
Contact us if you are seeking a smart manufacturing marketing agency which can help you join the elite group of manufacturers growing their company’s share of mind, voice and market with great websites.