B2B decision-makers don’t wait (or even want) to hear from a salesperson any more. Instead, they are researching purchase decisions — and vetting your specific company — online. When a prospect lands on your website, what do they see?
The first impression is the most important 8-10 seconds in your marketing cycle. You only have a few moments to capture your buyers' attention and win their trust. At this stage, buyers are asking questions like: "Are they experts in the space? Do they understand me? Do they truly grasp the problem?" They will answer those questions based on your frontline messaging and design sensibility.
In B2B technology, good design is design that clearly showcases Why, How, and What you do to solve your buyer’s problem. It should highlight the sophistication of your solution, the expertise of your team, and your ability to solve their problem.
We'll cover each of those goals in this three-part series, but let's start with how to showcase your solution's sophistication.
Using Design to Showcase Your Solution
Your priority needs to be making sure that people know they are in the right place when they get to your site. This can be done in a lot of ways: by making the aesthetic fit the industry that your technology serves, by having screenshots of the product up front, and even just by having copy specifically state the problem being solved. Sounds simple, I know, yet it’s surprisingly rare.
A great way to address these questions is to have the initial impression showcase the unique qualities of your solution. Here, you can demonstrate what the prospect can expect from your product and how your solution can work for them. There are a number of ways to do this, but let’s break down a few common examples.
The advantage to using screenshots is that showing a tangible product is a great way to earn credibility with your viewer. Mailchimp does a great job of employing this method. Their homepage makes a splash with bold colors and interesting shapes to catch the visitor’s eye. They then utilize these shapes to lead the visitor’s eyes to screenshot videos where the visitor can see their application in action.
With this method you should strive to make your copy and screenshots answer a “what” and “how” framework. What does it do or what can I do with it? How does it enable me to do that? When the visual information is broken into digestible parts it helps your visitor feel that your solution is simple and manageable. If you try to claim too much within one screenshot it can make your solution feel too complex to adopt. When screenshots are visual proof of the claims the copy makes, you earn credibility with your visitor.
Screenshots are not always the answer. If you have a product that is visually complex or is a disruptor to the market, it might be difficult for viewers to understand your solution through a screenshot or your solution might seem too overwhelming. To avoid leaving the impression that your solution is too complex to handle, another method you could use is to show a graphic or animation that gives an overview of how your solution works. This is a great method for putting a prospect’s mind at ease since it often unpacks what your solution does and how it can be implemented. Concert Genetics’ homepage is a great example of this method.
What Concert Genetics is doing to impact the world of genetic testing goes beyond what a screenshot of their search engine could convey. Our solution was to make the abstract more tangible. When visitors arrive on the Concert Genetics homepage, they are guided through a quick interactive story that gives visual metaphors for each of the three principles: connect, unify and simplify. This gives visitors a first impression that was enjoyable, informative, and simple to understand.
3. your process
If your solution is too complex to showcase in a graphic or animation — or if you need to keep aspects of how your solution works close to chest — you can change your approach and instead address how it will affect the prospect’s life after adoption. Videos, graphics, photos or testimonials that show where prospects could be after using your product can all be leveraged. By showing you know where the prospect wants to go, you are able to form a bond with them that goes beyond being credibility; it is the first step in creating a brand advocate.
A great example of this method is on InvisionApp’s homepage hero. Their headline copy draws visitors in by confidently stating why the visitor should care about their solution. Their subheader copy then offers a more concrete descriptions of what they provide to support the headline. And then, to clinch the pitch, a video in the background explains how they bring that vision to life and who it has helped. Invision’s first impression not only answers a visitor’s questions of why, how, and what within seconds but also provides a way for visitors to see proof of their process and envision their own success with the platform.
You can use these methods, mix them, or choose other methods to showcase your solution. Just remember that the goal here is to convey to your viewer an overview of what you do and how your solution works.
Next week, we'll discuss how you can use your website to achieve the second goal of design in B2B technology: demonstrating your team’s expertise.