Manufacturing Web Design

If you are redesigning your manufacturing website, you know from experience that it is complex and has many moving parts. You will likely need resources not only from your internal team but also from an experienced web design agency in order to complete your project.

This guide will help you avoid some of the common mistakes that we often see when companies undertake a website redesign project and help you launch a website that will serve as a solid foundation for your future marketing activities.

Manufacturing Web Design

Why Redesign Your Website?

Before you begin your web design project, you should know why. Some of the common reasons our manufacturing clients approach us for a redesign of their website include:

The site looks old and outdated.
The current site is not mobile friendly.
The content is no longer relevant.

However, as one of your most important sales and marketing assets, we also recommend that our clients look at some of the hard marketing metrics to help them baseline their current website performance. Some of the metrics include:

Manufacturing Web Design

Number of visitors

Manufacturing Web Design

Bounce rate on home page

Manufacturing Web Design

Time on site

Manufacturing Web Design

Average number of pages per visit

Manufacturing Web Design

Number of leads the site generates

Successful manufacturing companies know that the best reason for investing in your website is because your website is the only salesperson answering questions, making connections and generating leads for your company 24/7. Undertaking a redesign of your website should be given careful consideration.

Make sure that you have a solid business reason to invest in a redesign project.

Planning for a Redesign Project

The success or failure of your web project depends on balancing what is known as the “Project Management Triangle” of scope, time and cost. One side of the triangle cannot be changed without impact the others.

This leads to the concept of “You Pick Two.”

You can have a fast and large scope project, but it will be expensive.

You can have a fast and cheap project, but you will have a limited scope.

You can have a cheap and large scope project, but it will take longer.

Before you choose, do a bit of homework to define your three project constraints.

Cost

“How much will our website cost?” is the most common question we are asked when we are bidding on a new website project. While we can give some general parameters, the answer is always, “It depends.”

However, we recommend that instead of holding your breath and leaving it to an agency to come up with the cost, you define this constraint. One of the best methods is to calculate your budget based on your company’s gross revenue.

With your annual marketing budget in place, it is time to determine how much of it should be spent on your website redesign project.

Remember that your website is the keystone of any digital marketing strategy, but marketing expenses can also include additional online and offline activities.

Manufacturing Web Design

Online Activities

Social Marketing
CRM Software
Marketing Automation
Content Marketing

Offline Activities

Event Marketing
Print Advertising
Partner / Channel Marketing

Cost

“How much will our website cost?” is the most common question we are asked when we are bidding on a new website project. While we can give some general parameters, the answer is always, “It depends.”

However, we recommend that instead of holding your breath and leaving it to an agency to come up with the cost, you define this constraint. One of the best methods is to calculate your budget based on your company’s gross revenue.

With your annual marketing budget in place, it is time to determine how much of it should be spent on your website redesign project.

Remember that your website is the keystone of any digital marketing strategy, but marketing expenses can also include additional online and offline activities.

Manufacturing Web Design

Online Activities

Social Marketing
CRM Software
Marketing Automation
Content Marketing

Offline Activities

Event Marketing
Print Advertising
Partner / Channel Marketing

According to the 2016 Gartner CMO survey, companies are allocating 8.6% of their marketing budget to Web and 8.5% to Digital Commerce. Together, your e-commerce manufacturing website should be approximately 17% of your overall marketing budget.

You can calculate your website budget using the two formulas below:

Marketing BudgetGross Revenue x 10%

Web Design Budget = Marketing Budget x 17%

By using this method, you can determine if your company’s spending on marketing and website is on par with industry averages. Of course, your number will be different, but now, you have a baseline on how much you should be spending on your website redesign project.

According to the 2016 Gartner CMO survey, companies are allocating 8.6% of their marketing budget to Web and 8.5% to Digital Commerce. Together, your e-commerce manufacturing website should be approximately 17% of your overall marketing budget.

You can calculate your website budget using the two formulas below:

Marketing BudgetGross Revenue x 10%

Web Design Budget = Marketing Budget x 17%

By using this method, you can determine if your company’s spending on marketing and website is on par with industry averages. Of course, your number will be different, but now, you have a baseline on how much you should be spending on your website redesign project.

Time

“How long will it take?” is the second most frequently asked question. And, like cost, the answer is, “It depends.”

But there are two main factors that impact how long a web redesign project will take:

1. What are the requirements?

One of the best ways to shorten the time is to apply the concept of continuous improvement to your web design project. A website is not a static brochure that can only be updated every year. You can actually launch with a limited scope and then improve it by adding products and other features as time and budget permit.

Manufacturing Web Design

2. What types of resources and how much time are you willing to allocate to your project?

We find that there are pauses in the project that is spent going back and forth for getting content (text, pictures, product specifications), design review (category organization and product page design), and internal decisions. Honestly, most agencies can move pretty quickly if all of the information is available and if the client can turn around reviews quickly. So review your internal resources to determine what kind of resources you have, and make sure that you have a dedicated internal team to keep the project on your side moving along.

And there may be some additional time constraints such as an upcoming trade show, launching a new marketing product, pressure from senior management to start generating new leads as soon as possible, back office efficiency, or the sales team’s belief that your existing website is not helping them to close sales.

 

Progressive improvement beats delayed perfection.”


– Mark Twain

Scope

Determining the scope for a manufacturing company website can be tricky. You are faced with all of the requirements of a B2B website, and you have the added complexity of figuring out a way to show your product catalog online in a simple, easy-to-use interface.

The best way we found to help our clients scope their project is to create a “wish list” of all functional requirements, technical requirements and content requirements. When you create your wish list, place the requirements into two different sections:
wants vs. needs. This will help you keep the scope under control.

Scoping requirements to consider:

  • How many products and product categories do you have?
  • What existing pages (e.g. About Us, Shipping, Blog) do you need to include?
  • Do you want to allow visitors to find your distributors?
  • Do you have detailed product specifications for each product?
  • How do you want to organize your products?
  • Do you need advanced sorting, filtering, or search?
  • Do you have high quality photos of your products?
  • How important is it to be able to add products and categories in the future?
  • Do you need to move your blog content from your existing site to another?
  • Do you have landing pages that need to be included in the scope?
  • Do you have an existing customer list that needs to be migrated?
  • Do you have any existing integrations (CRM or ERP) that need to be included?
Manufacturing Web Design
Manufacturing Web Design

Scoping requirements to consider:

  • How many products and product categories do you have?
  • What existing pages (e.g. About Us, Shipping, Blog) do you need to include?
  • Do you want to allow visitors to find your distributors?
  • Do you have detailed product specifications for each product?
  • How do you want to organize your products?
  • Do you need advanced sorting, filtering, or search?
  • Do you have high quality photos of your products?
  • How important is it to be able to add products and categories in the future?
  • Do you need to move your blog content from your existing site to another?
  • Do you have landing pages that need to be included in the scope?
  • Do you have an existing customer list that needs to be migrated?
  • Do you have any existing integrations (CRM or ERP) that need to be included?

One additional requirement you need to think through is the technology stack. When building out a manufacturing website, there are a lot of options. But in our opinion, an e-commerce cart is the best platform for future-proofing your investment.

Bringing it All Together

Now that you have a high-level understanding of all three constraints—cost, scope and time, you need to pick two.

Our recommendation is usually to adapt the mindset of continuous improvement to your website project: launch your website as soon as possible and schedule in phases to bring in additional functionality.

Go with faster and cheaper with a limited scope.

Finding the Right Agency

Now that you have a rough idea of your budget, scope and time frame, your next task is to find the right agency to help you design and build your new website. A couple of important evaluation criteria to keep in mind:

1. Location

For many companies, having a local agency is a critical factor for success. Having your web agency visit your facility, meet you in person, see your challenges and experience how you run your business is invaluable in strengthening your relationship with your partner agency.

2. Team Composition

People do business with people they know, like and trust. Take a look at the agency’s team page and check out their LinkedIn profiles. Are these the types of people you would like to be doing business with? Are the agency’s core values in alignment with yours?

Manufacturing Web Design

Manufacturing websites require more than just a designer, builder, project manager and general marketing consultant. Because it is an e-commerce store, your web design project will touch several departments, including marketing, sales, accounting and operations. Someone who can help you with the process changes that an e-commerce store brings will be invaluable during and after your project. You might also need an experienced business consultant who can help you collect and communicate the right metrics and goals of your project so that you get buy-in from senior management. If you decide to adopt the mindset of continually improving your website, consider having someone to help you plan and implement the post-go-live phases, which will help keep your project moving forward.

Consider bringing on an web design agency that is also skilled at inbound marketing. This will make it easier for you to solve post-go-live marketing challenges, including attracting visitors to your site, keeping your distributors engaged with your company and educating your end-retail customers about your products.

3. Previous Projects

By reviewing an agency’s portfolio, you will get a good understanding of whether their design patterns are in alignment with how you would like your site to look and feel. One design trend we have noticed is that websites are looking more and more like each other. This is because the general design patterns that lead to higher engagement and conversion rates are being built in to many web and e-commerce templates.

But although there is only one aerodynamic shape that is the most efficient, car companies still manage to infuse their own style into their cars. Look for differences in the agency’s portfolio aesthetics and see whether there are differences that highlight the uniqueness of their clients or whether they are following the same design pattern over and over.

Manufacturing Web Design

4. Price

I saved price for the last item because it is, simultaneously, one of the most important and least important factors. Let me explain.

Because you have done your homework, you have answered the big questions for your project.

  • You have solid business reasons for investing in a site redesign.
  • You know your scope, timeline and budget.

This allows you to ask the tough and most impactful questions, such as:

Is the agency a good cultural fit?
Do they possess the right team members?
Do the team members have the right experience to get the job done?

Now, with a smaller list of possible partners, you can ask the ever-important question of price. However, even with all of the work you have done thus far, it will be difficult to get a solid dollar figure for your entire project from a reputable agency.

Most good agencies have learned from experience that with a complex manufacturing website, a detailed discovery process is required to get firm requirements for an accurate estimate on cost, scope and timeline of your project.

Don’t worry; most good web design companies can also give you a ballpark figure on the cost based on initial discussions without going through a deep dive into your project.

If the agency can’t or won’t give you that ballpark figure, it’s not a showstopper, but it should give you reason to pause and perhaps move them to the bottom of the list of contenders so that you spend your time with those who are confident in providing you an estimate.

Finding the Right Agency

Now that you have a rough idea of your budget, scope and time frame, your next task is to find the right agency to help you design and build your new website. A couple of important evaluation criteria to keep in mind:

Manufacturing Web Design

1. Location

For many companies, having a local agency is a critical factor for success. Having your web agency visit your facility, meet you in person, see your challenges and experience how you run your business is invaluable in strengthening your relationship with your partner agency.

2. Team Composition

People do business with people they know, like and trust. Take a look at the agency’s team page and check out their LinkedIn profiles. Are these the types of people you would like to be doing business with? Are the agency’s core values in alignment with yours?

Manufacturing websites require more than just a designer, builder, project manager and general marketing consultant. Because it is an e-commerce store, your web design project will touch several departments, including marketing, sales, accounting and operations. Someone who can help you with the process changes that an e-commerce store brings will be invaluable during and after your project. You might also need an experienced business consultant who can help you collect and communicate the right metrics and goals of your project so that you get buy-in from senior management. If you decide to adopt the mindset of continually improving your website, consider having someone to help you plan and implement the post-go-live phases, which will help keep your project moving forward.

Consider bringing on an web design agency that is also skilled at inbound marketing. This will make it easier for you to solve post-go-live marketing challenges, including attracting visitors to your site, keeping your distributors engaged with your company and educating your end-retail customers about your products.

3. Previous Projects

By reviewing an agency’s portfolio, you will get a good understanding of whether their design patterns are in alignment with how you would like your site to look and feel. One design trend we have noticed is that websites are looking more and more like each other. This is because the general design patterns that lead to higher engagement and conversion rates are being built in to many web and e-commerce templates.

But although there is only one aerodynamic shape that is the most efficient, car companies still manage to infuse their own style into their cars. Look for differences in the agency’s portfolio aesthetics and see whether there are differences that highlight the uniqueness of their clients or whether they are following the same design pattern over and over.

Manufacturing Web Design

4. Price

I saved price for the last item because it is, simultaneously, one of the most important and least important factors. Let me explain.

Because you have done your homework, you have answered the big questions for your project.

  • You have solid business reasons for investing in a site redesign.
  • You know your scope, timeline and budget.

This allows you to ask the tough and most impactful questions, such as:

Is the agency a good cultural fit?
Do they possess the right team members?
Do the team members have the right experience to get the job done?

Now, with a smaller list of possible partners, you can ask the ever-important question of price. However, even with all of the work you have done thus far, it will be difficult to get a solid dollar figure for your entire project from a reputable agency.

Most good agencies have learned from experience that with a complex manufacturing website, a detailed discovery process is required to get firm requirements for an accurate estimate on cost, scope and timeline of your project.

Don’t worry; most good web design companies can also give you a ballpark figure on the cost based on initial discussions without going through a deep dive into your project.

If the agency can’t or won’t give you that ballpark figure, it’s not a showstopper, but it should give you reason to pause and perhaps move them to the bottom of the list of contenders so that you spend your time with those who are confident in providing you an estimate.

One last thing…

As marketing professionals, we speak in marketing terms—engagement, visitors, conversion rates. But when you need to get funding and project approvals from the from the CEO or CFO you need to speak their language.

More importantly, while most CEOs and CFOs understand that marketing theoretically impacts the bottom line, 73% of executives believe that marketing lacks credibility and does not impact the bottom line.

We recommend that before you start your web design project, you establish a baseline on the the 9 Key Performance Indicators that Senior Management Actually Cares About. After you establish your baseline, measure your marketing performance at regular intervals (quarterly, semi-annually or annually) and start using business terms that CEOs actually care about: revenue, cost and profit.

Manufacturing Web Design

The long-term benefit for doing this is that by being able to justify your team’s marketing efforts and activities and prove to senior management, you will have an easier time getting the support and funding needed to do your job.

One last thing…

As marketing professionals, we speak in marketing terms—engagement, visitors, conversion rates. But when you need to get funding and project approvals from the from the CEO or CFO you need to speak their language.

More importantly, while most CEOs and CFOs understand that marketing theoretically impacts the bottom line, 73% of executives believe that marketing lacks credibility and does not impact the bottom line.

We recommend that before you start your web design project, you establish a baseline on the the 9 Key Performance Indicators that Senior Management Actually Cares About. After you establish your baseline, measure your marketing performance at regular intervals (quarterly, semi-annually or annually) and start using business terms that CEOs actually care about: revenue, cost and profit.

The long-term benefit for doing this is that by being able to justify your team’s marketing efforts and activities and prove to senior management, you will have an easier time getting the support and funding needed to do your job.

Manufacturing Web Design