We speak frequently with aviation, aerospace and defense marketers or business owners who call us to inquire about our web development capabilities. We love talking with them and learning about their challenges. Lately, we notice more people coming to us with concerns about the visual aspect of their sites, with many expressing a desire to update the site’s aesthetic appeal.
The Ugly Truth
We’re all for great-looking websites — they help us keep the lights on and they are essential to a healthy brand. But, frankly, a cosmetic update alone is like putting lipstick on a pig. It doesn’t change the fact that the website is fundamentally bad and not functioning as it should. It just makes the still-bad website look better.
It’s good to pay attention to your website. It’s an extension of your sales team and is arguably the most important part of any B2B marketing program, so it has to be right.
Back to Basics
When considering a website refresh, be sure you are focusing your time and energy on the right things. Here’s a list of 9 basics that are more important than visual appeal.
- Analytics: Do you have Google Analytics installed on your website now? If not, stop reading this and do it now. It’s free, and analytics reports provide invaluable information and intelligence you need to understand prior to making any changes. You’ll learn everything from what people are searching for on your site to identifying best- and worst-performing pages. Learn more at Kissmetrics.
- Update Content: Do you regularly update the content on your site? Or has the content remained stagnant since it was launched? A lack of updated information results in poor search engine optimization (SEO), which makes it unlikely that prospective customers will find you. Updates ideally should happen at least two or three times a week. If you aren’t prepared to keep all content relevant and fresh (blogging is ideal), a redesign will be a waste of time and money. Learn more here.
- Calls to Action: What do you want visitors to do when they visit your website? Having an answer to this simple question, and addressing it with multiple clear and compelling calls to action (CTA), is vital to even the most basic website. Kissmetrics provides five foolproof CTA formulas here.
- Keywords/Metadata/Page Titles: These are the critical underpinnings of your website that are essential to good SEO. You absolutely cannot afford to overlook this aspect of web development. The people at Moz provide a detailed tutorial on all aspects of SEO. To learn about the magic of keywords, metadata and page titles, read Chapter 4.
- Mobile-friendly: This one’s a no-brainer. It doesn’t matter how great your website looks, if it’s not optimized for mobile viewing, your work will be wasted. Sites that are not mobile friendly are harder to find on Google.
- Clean: It only took a couple of minutes to find these errors (see visuals) on aviation, aerospace and defense websites. Errors and typos happen to the best of us, but they raise questions about professionalism and attention to detail, so try to avoid them at all costs. Apostrophes are especially problematic. Refer to your AP Stylebook for details.
- Clear: This is an aerospace company with a fairly well known brand name. Can you tell what they do within just a few seconds of visiting their home page? “One Name. Many Solutions.” Hmm, that does not tell us much at all. Please don’t fall into this trap. Whatever you do, be sure to clearly state who you are, what you do and why visitors should care. Make it prominent. Make it clear. And make it matter. People will stay or leave your site based on this information.
- Usable: Take a step back and try to look at your website as a first-time visitor. Does it load quickly? Do all the links work? Is the presentation of information simple and focused or crowded and confusing? A usable website is one that intuitively and effortlessly guides visitors so they know how to find what they need. Able Aerospace has a good, meat and potatoes website clearly designed to satisfy the needs of its visitors. It’s not slick or sexy, but it gets the job done with a straightforward value proposition, easy navigation and frequent calls to action.
- Contact: Some people don’t want contact information posted on their website, because they don’t want to be bothered by phone calls. If this sounds like you, don’t bother having a website. Otherwise, make sure your web site includes complete, up-to-date, easy-to-find contact information. Thales Group is one example of a company that does not make it easy. We were unable to find any phone numbers, but did find a “contact us” page that required we select a topic, then a business domain, a geographical area, product type and activity domain, and then fill out a form with seven required fields. We wonder how many people use the system.
- Lastly, design: Once you can commit to all of the above you are ready for design. Aim for clean, modern and distinct — like this. It will set you apart from a sea of aviation, aerospace and defense websites that all look and sound alike. There are lots and lots of online resources for best practices in B2B web design. Or, be inspired by BDN’s own recently updated website.
Want more? We guarantee you’ll find this Content Marketing Institute article, “Why 55% of Potential B2B Buyers Might Not Trust Your Website Content,” to be especially helpful.