If you’ve ever looked at your website and thought, “maybe it’s time for an upgrade,” chances are that time has passed and you’re overdue. With search engines constantly rolling out new algorithms and new design trends taking shape every day, it’s understandable that managers are getting overwhelmed just trying to keep their heads above water. Website re-designs are long, labor-intensive processes that require input from many different departments to make sure everything is moving on track.
Especially in the industrial space, where resources are limited and staff members are already being pulled in a hundred different directions, adding a website re-design to the mix is an intimidating prospect, to say the least. But, if you keep a checklist of deliverables and work toward each individual component as a separate project, it will make the whole process easier.
1) Define Your Angle
Before you get started writing anything – answer this question: What value do you provide to your customers? Figure out what it is that sets your company apart from others, and use that to your advantage wherever you can.
For custom manufacturers, having a wide range of equipment and capabilities that can serve a variety of needs is a good differentiator. For distributors, it might be your global presence and stellar customer service. Think about what makes you unique, and how best to represent that online. Once you figure out what gives you an edge over your competition, consider the types of web pages that will help you explain these benefits.
After you’ve outlined a basic site map, you can get started writing content that covers all of these bases. Remember to include keywords and terms that people are searching for online, and incorporate them naturally in the text to make it reader- and search engine-friendly.
2) Put Products Front and Center
If a prospective customer is on your website, make sure it’s easy for them to find what they’re looking for. Many industrial companies seem to think that explaining their processes and end products is enough, and that customers will call for more information.
But increasingly, website visitors are looking for all of those details online so they can make a decision before they call. For this reason, your website should include a product catalog with high quality pictures, descriptions, and any customization options that are available. It’s also a good idea to include pricing, although for custom products it’s understandable if that’s not always possible.
If most of your work is custom and you don’t have a catalog available, you may instead opt to include a calculator that allows users to input their unique specifications and get a custom quote. A benefit of this route is that you can create a website form that also includes contact information, allowing you to capture that data and keep in touch with interested individuals.
3) Feel Free to Name Drop
Okay, you might not want to disclose who your customers are, but if you have a long list of distributors, that might be good information to highlight. If a prospect is looking for a local company, but your main facility is hundreds of miles away, they might be turned off by the distance. But if you have distributors located around the country or around the world, that can make all the difference. And if your distributors are well-known, all the better.
4) Show Off a Little
When you’re thinking about purchasing a high-ticket item, chances are you’ll do your research to find the best possible option. It’s no different in the industrial space. People want to find someone who can deliver what they want without having to worry about quality issues. So if you’ve earned ISO certifications, awards, or meet any special product requirements, let it be known on your website.
Create an area on the website specifically for these recognitions, and spread the word when you add any new acknowledgements to the list. Every time you win an award or obtain a new certification, put together a press release, blog, and social media posts to announce it before adding it to the master list on the site. It’s not just about bragging rights – it’s about establishing yourself as a key industry leader and trusted partner.
In addition, you’ll also want to showcase certifications that are not related to quality – such as if you operate a woman owned business, or a minority owned business. Many companies are required to meet diversity requirements in their supply chains, so if they can meet those requirements by working with you, let them know that.
5) Don’t Underestimate Navigation
On each website page, you want your basic navigation options to be accessible without being obtrusive. Try a couple of different locations that are easy to find while at the same time being out of the way of your main content. It sounds like a catch-22, but once you find the right place it’ll all make sense. As always, check to make sure that even on a small mobile screen your navigation is available without taking up too much space.
The best way to achieve this is to “hide” the navigation in plain sight behind a smaller hamburger icon, which is essentially three stacked bars that very loosely resemble a hamburger (I didn’t make this up, I swear). If a site visitor taps on the hamburger icon, the full navigation menu will appear.
Similarly, make sure any links or buttons are easily clickable with a finger-tap on a mobile device. If you’ve ever done any mobile browsing, you know how easy it is to click the wrong link or accidentally tap a button while scrolling. Run through your mobile site as many times as necessary to make sure it’s as user friendly as possible.
Hopefully this information helped outline some of the important factors to keep in mind when designing an updated, responsive manufacturing website. This is just a basic introduction though; if you’re interested in learning even more, download this free responsive website design ebook for additional information.
Originally published Jul 17, 2015 11:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017