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It’s easy to say “I need a new website.” And working on design and content is the fun part. The hardest bit? Deciding what goes on your B2B website.
What do we mean by that? There are two parts to this. First, you have to look at the sitemap. The information architecture. The site structure. Whatever you want to call it. Think of it as a list of pages.
The other part is what’s within the pages. This is all about creating a wireframe or a sketch of how the page should look.
On their face, both of those tasks seem pretty easy. List some pages and spend some quality time with your whiteboard.
Problem is, they’re not easy.
Why? Because, psychologically, one of the hardest things we do as humans is turn nothing into something. (It’s “blank page syndrome.”) And that’s really what you’re doing when you’re deciding what goes on your B2B website.
Marketers tend to fall back on other industry sites, their competitors, and past experiences for inspiration. Problem is, this almost always leads to boring results. They’re basically just putting a coat of paint on something old and calling it new.
But you can do better than that.
You’re probably asking yourself: Is there a way to innovate my B2B website? Make it faster? Cooler?
We argue heck yes.
You’ll be better off in the long run.
Step 1: Jump in a Lake
In terms of the sitemap, don’t think about exactly what you need to say and where you need to say it. Just start by listing all the elements that could go on the website. It’s not yet time to worry about the structure or individual page elements.
This means you should create a data lake. Think of it as a big ol’ box of LEGO bricks containing everything you want on the finished site.
Again, make a comprehensive list. Don’t get bogged down in the details. Just let your imagination flow.
You don’t need the instruction book yet. You don’t need a firm idea of navigation or anything like that. But the tendency to dive too deep into the weeds when starting from scratch is very strong when you’re deciding what to put on your B2B website.
We get that.
But you can get yourself out of the weeds by starting simple and laying out the core elements of what you want. Create that box of LEGO bricks. (Yes, that’s the proper plural.) Once you have that, you can start organizing.
What you’ve done is opened your brain to the ability to do that. It’s not yet time to worry about whether the page elements will be blue or green. You’ll let yourself do something more special and create something really neat.
And we think that’s really neat.
Step 2: Wireframe Away
The how to decide what goes on each page of your B2B website is a little counterintuitive. Frankly, it’s best to start with bare-bones stuff.
In other words, don’t get sucked down a rabbit hole during the conceptualization phase. Rather than diving into specifics of graphics or images, just use a grey box. (Or draw a box and put an “X” in it. Old-timey newspaper design stuff there.)
You’ll get to the details later. When you’re just starting out, they can actually be the enemy of innovation, rather than the conduit.
Of course, if you have a really great idea, go ahead and pencil it in. But if the wireframe stage features arguments over which stock photo to use, you’re going to end up with something boring.
It really is that simple. Just block the specifics out of your mind for the time being.
Step 3: Consider a Non-Traditional Structure
The other important point to consider is that non-traditional web structures are increasingly accepted. People like different.
Users consume in so many different ways on so many devices in so many different places. Frankly, right now they have more time than they usually do to think and consume. That means you can forget some of what you “know” about B2B web development. Do you really need a front-and-center “About Us” page? Are your services and solutions really different things?
You should try something new. Spice it up.
But again, early in the process, it’s important to not think about the details when deciding what should go on your website. Once you have that box of LEGO bricks, it’s a whole lot easier to build something cool and different.
So don’t jump the gun. If you get caught in the weeds, you’re going to end up with something that looks and feels pretty much the same as what you’ve been doing.
We’re not going to advocate buying a Cybertruck, but it’s at least different, no?
When you’re deciding what goes on your B2B website, dream a little. Think different by not overthinking. You can deal with reality and budgets later. But when you’re starting out – the IA and the wireframes – let it fly.
If this is the only blurb you read in this whole blog, then remember: Laying out the basics will help you. Don’t fixate. Because your brain wants to go back to what it’s seen before instead of slowly evolving into something new.
So don’t be afraid to be unique when deciding what goes on your B2B website.
Unique is good.