If your business is like many manufacturers, you’ve relied on relationship building and several long term clients for the lion's share of revenue. You have a website, and remember spending a lot of money on it awhile back. But it’s not a key sales channel, it takes a back seat to other business initiatives, and it hasn’t been touched in a very long time. Your site isn’t just dated - it’s obsolete. It no longer reflects your current product mix, you barely remember how to make updates, and the enhancements you’d like to make may not even be possible with your current system.
So now you’ve decided to build a new site, resolve that this time you’re going to put your website to work, and you are looking for inspiration. Here are seven best practices to consider as you begin the process with examples of some of the best manufacturing company websites we’ve seen. While these sites aren’t perfect (some aren’t responsive, and others may benefit from ecommerce) these companies have applied smart ideas to their digital business presence.
Clear Calls to Action
Bell Performance - Your website’s primary role is to generate leads for your business. Even better, it should play a part in converting those leads into customers. Websites that do this work have clear calls to action. What path do you want your website visitors to take? What do you want them to do? At a minimum, your phone number should be clear and your contact form should be easy to find. Ideally this form is integrated with your CRM system. If your website offers free resources, you have an opportunity to capture a leads that may be earlier in the sales process.
Bell Performance manufactures fuel treatments and is both a B2C and B2B business. While it can be difficult to serve both consumer and commercial customers on a single site - they employ simple navigation, great photography, a strong message and lots of calls to actions to capture and segment their leads. The website is chock full of informational articles and other resources for both it’s consumer and commercial customers that are relevant and easy to access.
Defined brand and strong messaging
CST Tires - CST is the largest manufacturer of bicycle tires in the world. Although products are all sold through distributors, they launched a consumer-friendly website that follows best practices established by B2C retailers. Last year this new site was named the Best Manufacturing Website by the Web Marketing Association. The overall design is a bold reflection of their brand, with concise compelling messaging. There is no doubt CST offers durable tires for passionate consumers that value high performance.
Simple, Clean Design
Miller Welding - Minimalism is often associated with professionalism. A luxury retailer has a limited curated selection of products, while a flea market is chock full of this and that and the other. It takes discipline not to pack your website with everything you know about your business, and it takes smarts to know what to highlight. Miller Welding and Machine gets it right. Their website is straightforward, polished and authentic to what they do.
FireRock Building Materials - As you design the products you build, you know that to be successful you have to consider your customer needs. In the digital world, we talk a lot about user experience which is that same philosophy. When we develop a website, our primary goal is to ensure the site meets the needs of those visiting the site without making them jump through a lot of hoops. That’s what we love about the FireRock Building Materials website. The navigation is clear. The product categories are front and center. Any residential architect that is looking for inspiration, product specs, or dealers will quickly find the resources they need. A site that is easy to navigate is often a reflection of a company that’s easy to work with. Put your best foot forward.
Praxair - The internet is a visual medium. We like posts with pictures, we click links with infographics, and we love to watch and share videos. Photography and other art assets can make or break a website. So if you are making the effort to develop a new one, be sure to include a line item in your project budget to bring the site to live with new images. Hire a photographer and fill in with stock where you need to. On the Praxair website, photography contrasts the technical business with the people behind it. The result conveys a brand that is smart, expansive and approachable.
Qualcomm - And lastly, we don’t want to rule out the X factor. There are many standards that we accept as best practices when it comes to overall navigation and layout, but there is a time and a place to break from the mold. Different isn’t always better, but when done well - the end result is a website that is truly ownable. This is where site testing becomes really valuable to ensure that your audience is able to easily access the information they need before going live. The Qualcomm website showcases an interactive homepage left navigation bar making the site a unique one.