A new website is an exciting (and sometimes terrifying) endeavor for many companies. It’s exciting because you have the opportunity to create a dynamic digital presence for your brand that truly speaks to your customers and relates the real values of your business. On the other hand, there are so many options, decisions to make, people to consult, that it can be overwhelming.
Over the years, I’ve guided hundreds of B2B firms through the web design and development process. In this post, I’ll address questions you need to ask before designing a new B2B website, both internally and externally.
I. Questions You Should Ask Internally Before Looking for a Web Design Agency
A. Why do we need a new website? What are our goals?
It’s important to have a clear understanding of what your goals are for your B2B website in order to make it a successful project. For example, a company who wants to generate more leads vs. a company who just wants to reposition themselves in the marketplace have two very different goals, which will affect every aspect of the website creation process.
B. Who will oversee or manage the project?
Even though you plan on hiring a web design agency, it will require regular input from you and your team. Decide who on your team or in your organization will manage or oversee the entire website project. Make sure this person is in an appropriate role to manage, they have the bandwidth needed to create a successful website, and they have the authority to make decisions about your brand.
C. Who will support the person overseeing the project?
The person overseeing the B2B web design project will likely need support, whether it’s gathering appropriate business information, branding guidelines, visual assets such as photos, videos or content creation. Think of who you need on your project team before you start contacting agencies.
D. Who are the final decision makers?
It’s important to keep the final decisions makers to the smallest number possible – 1 to 3 people for efficiency. The more decision makers, the longer the project will take and the less likely it will achieve your desired objectives.
E. Are there any specific features or functionality your firm requires?
Getting your requirements together before shopping will result in quicker, more accurate proposals. A few things to consider are whether you need your B2B website to connect to your CRM, Marketing Automation Tool, Third-party recruiting tools, or if you need a product gallery or eCommerce functionality. Make sure you create a comprehensive list and determine what are must-haves and what are nice-to-haves (there is a difference and knowing the priority will save time down the road).
F. What is your budget?
This is a question every agency is going to ask you in your initial discussion with them. It’s a good idea to at least have a range ready to speed up the buying process. You may need to ask your CFO or CMO for the budget range, but it will help to eliminate any agencies that are either way out of your budget or don’t have the capability to meet your complex requirements (such as a one-person shop).
G. Do you and your team have the time?
Most reputable digital agencies have delay fees. You want to make sure that if you are ready to start a project, you have the time to provide regular feedback, input, and provide assets as needed. If not, it will hold up the project and you are likely to get hit with fees and will end up paying more than you had initially budgeted.
H. What is your ideal timeline?
A B2B website overhaul takes time. If you have a new business or a small website, it will take less time. If you have a large, complicated website, it will take more time. Realistically, you are looking at a 3 to 9-month process, depending on the complexity of your project. Have a realistic timeline of when you’d like to launch your new website and then work backward from that.
Now that you’ve answered your web design questions internally, it’s time to start shopping for the right digital agency to meet your brand’s needs.
II. Questions to Ask When Shopping for a B2B Digital Agency
A. What is your experience with B2B?
You want an agency that understands the B2B buying cycle and the nuances of B2B customers, so they can build a website that will support it in the best way possible. They should be able to point to a range of B2B clients and articulate what makes selling and marketing in the B2B space different from B2C.
B. What is your experience with my specific industry?
You don’t need an agency to know all the ins and outs of your industry, but experience in the same or similar industry—plus a general knowledge of the type of customers you are marketing to—is extremely helpful. This experience and knowledge will make the process go more smoothly. You won’t spend your time as a client educating your agency about every detail of your industry.
C. What is your process like?
The agency you are hiring better have a defined process for creating B2B websites. If they don’t, get rid of them. At Bop Design, we are very transparent about our web design process and work to explain every step of the way to our clients. Our process consists of several phases:*
This is where the agency should get to know your business and your unique value proposition, target market, and the function of the website.
Based on the information gathered during the discovery process, the web design firm should present your company with several design options.
Writing the website copy is considered a separate activity from the design phase, but it often happens at the same time as the design phase.
Once the design and content are approved, a web design firm should move the project focus to the backend of the website using an experienced development team.
After the website is developed and approved, it’s time to launch the website and share it with the world. It’s essential to work with a firm who is familiar with this process and will provide support for a period of 30 days post-launch.
*This is a high-level overview. For a more in-depth view of the website design process, download our B2B Website Buyers Guide.
D. Who are the people that will be working on our company’s website?
Creating a new B2B website is a big undertaking and requires multiple disciplines – project management, design, development, content strategy, writing, marketing strategy, SEO, etc. Make sure all these areas are covered and it’s not just one or 2 people that think they can handle all of it.
B2B Website Buyer’s Guide
This is a quick overview of questions to consider before you design a new website for your B2B firm. For a more comprehensive dive into how to find the right digital agency for your firm, download our B2B website Buyer’s Guide.