B2B vs B2C websites: know your users

We work with dozens of brands whose websites are built for B2C and B2B audiences – or both. We’ve come to understand the conspicuous and nuanced differences in how website design affects both. Always happy to share the knowledge, we introduce our most important factors to consider when designing a B2B or B2C website.

Attitude

B2C customers are on your site during their spare time, and will be looking for entertainment or special offers. That’s their drive for being on your website – largely based around emotive reasoning rather than logic. Is your market there to watch a video, look at pictures, shop for products or something else? Understand the mood your customers are in and you can design accordingly.

B2B customers couldn’t be more opposite: they are on your site for work. It’s their job to get information to justify an investment. B2B customers need to justify every expense they make through the proper channels, and the decision they make will affect not just the business but also their own reputation. Essentially, they aren’t visiting your site for ‘fun’.

Patience

To B2C customers, one of the key factors of using a website is convenience. Amazon’s patented ‘1-Click ordering’ lets consumers go through their order process literally at the click of a button. The idea was so popular that it is apparently worth billions, and Apple has since utilised the technology for iTunes and other products. YouTube, on the other hand, will offer recommended videos for users so not to delay getting them to their purpose for visiting the site. Also bear in mind that B2C customers don’t want to be forced to register as it delays their purpose for visiting.

B2B sites can afford to utilise more detailed or specific menu options, as customers will be looking to absorb as much detail as they can. Businesses will take a much more painstaking effort in choosing their supplier or product. When designing an e-commerce B2B website (we know! It turns out they are a thing!), you should be aware that nearly all purchases will need to be approved, and most likely proposed. The deal they make with you could be a contract that lasts months or even years, so be prepared to accommodate their needs for your company’s proposal. Since the relationship you will have with a B2B customer could be a long-standing one, you will certainly need to talk to them in person (or on the phone, anyway), and that contact information should be of prominence on the site.

Emotions

Customers are emotional beings, what with them being squishy humans and all. Their decision-making skills are very often influenced by a list of emotions, from greed to pride to shame. You can utilise these emotions (or spark them) on your website with brand language, both visual and linguistic. Meanwhile, B2B sites are often very focused on sentiments surrounding one issue: liability (and possibly hunger, depending on the time of day).

Everything businesses spend money on comes with risk, and purchasers have superiors they must answer to. They are likely to be meticulous and careful in their decision so don’t expect impulse buys. B2B customers should be assured so to dissipate any doubts and replace them with confidence. A website design that promotes professionalism and experience is a good start – your designer will understand how design, UX and colour can impact reassuring emotive responses.

Content

B2C websites need to be accessible, relatable and, most importantly, understandable. Easily digestible news feeds, or even an embedded Twitter feed, can keep customers informed without asking them to invest too much effort. Keep language simple and colloquial; nothing deters a customer more than confusion. You can be sure your competitors have tested their website to the nth degree to identify and minimise pain points like this.

While B2B sites will need similar levels of testing, the way in which information is conveyed can afford (and indeed should) be much more technical and include contextual jargon. B2C customers aren’t willing to read pages of information before a purchase, but B2B customers will want as much information as possible. They will need long form, detailed persuasion in order to better justify their purchase.

Options and navigation

When looking at the homepage of a B2C website, the page is likely to be filled with different CTAs with focus directed entirely towards customer engagement. Meanwhile, a B2B website should offer informative incentives such as trial offers or contact information displayed prominently.

Emphasis on B2B sites should be on brand identity and what you can offer with your USP. Take a look at the Microsoft business website as a B2B example – immediate attention is drawn towards the branding and key benefit messages. The only obvious CTAs are to make contact for more information, and there isn’t an ‘add to basket’ to be seen. There’s also an instant chat option there on the homepage for clients with any questions. Compare that to a B2C site like the online consumer store for Microsoft. The customer is inundated with special offers, products and links to even more products, while always having easy access to their basket and the checkout.

 

Of course targeted website design isn’t black and white: there is a whole spectrum of possibility depending on your product, so you may not want to specifically target consumers or businesses. If you need to know what your target market is like, what kind of process they go through and what their pain points are, you’ll need to create customer personas. Several, in fact, to best accommodate your target market. This is a process Dusted are very familiar with and can confirm that it’s incomparably useful when approaching your website design.