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In the first part of “How to increase the performance of your e-commerce website through user experience design,” we covered why UX design practices are great for enhancing the performance of B2B e-commerce websites and how to achieve that through site navigation, interface design, checkout phase, and a fast-loading and mobile-friendly e-commerce platform. We also briefly touched upon crafting an information architecture that is relevant to the users.
Here, we will explain why information architecture is one of the best UX Design practices B2B e-commerce professionals can benefit from and how content is still king when it comes to delighting the user.
Pay attention to information architecture
One of the struggles of B2B businesses is not speaking the language of their customers. This happens quite often as every industry has its terminology, and it’s easy to forget that the clients might not share this knowledge. It becomes problematic in the context of an online store because it can prevent customers from finding what they are looking for. The e-commerce manager of Puratos France, Fernanda Cristo, has first-hand experience when it comes to this misunderstanding:
“After testing our e-commerce website within our organization, we opened the website to a few customers to have them test it. We were surprised to see that customers give different names to the same product. For example, some customers might look for “icing” while others may type “frosting.”
To create an information architecture that will be relevant to the customers, the companies should first decide on the content that is needed to assist their clients. After determining the content, organizing a card sorting exercise within the organization initially and then with a group of end users is a good way of developing the right information architecture. “Card sorting exercise can be done in many ways but the basic idea is to write down the content is needed to be organized onto cards and then ask participants to group them in a way that makes sense to them.” This way, businesses can structure the content of their online stores in a way that resonates with their customers. When done right, information architecture can do wonders for potential buyers and turn them into loyal customers.
Have content that helps your customers
Perfecting the interface design, information architecture, and site navigation will enhance the customer experience of B2B online stores significantly, but if the content is not useful, the customers will eventually go elsewhere. Thus, the businesses should think about what kind of content they should have on their e-commerce sites to support their clients. The B2B procurement process is a long and complicated journey with many stakeholders involved, so the purpose of the content should be to make the process as frictionless as possible.
At this stage, it’s useful to take a peek at what the actual customer journey looks like so that we can understand the content that is needed to assist it. A frequently overlooked aspect is that multiple people are involved in the buying process, who typically falls into two categories; the end users and the decision makers. The end users are the people who do the initial research on the available products and services because they are the ones who will use them. The decision makers are the ones who give the final verdict.
Dell’s e-commerce website is a great example of making the job easier for the customers. Not only all the product information is available, but there is also a “help me choose” option to make the decision-making process smooth
Since the information required by both parties are different, a B2B e-commerce site should have content for both. That content can include testimonials, case studies, and technical data such as product integrations to convince the end users and the payment options, support mechanisms, and the price for the decision maker. Showing the exact cost can be tricky for B2B online shops because most of the products are highly customizable, but as Page Laubheimer suggests, “businesses must make an effort to show the exact price whenever possible and when it is not, they should provide a sample price list.” Doing so will make the job of the decision maker much more manageable as this is crucial information for the procurement process.
Here is another example of great content from Dell, but this time it’s directed to the decision makers. Here they state the cost, the special offers and the delivery options to make their job easy as well.
Guide, reassure and inform the customers with microcopy
Another type of content that supports the site visitors is called microcopy. Microcopies are the short texts that guide and inform the users throughout their journey at the website; from the error code that they got when they typed in the wrong password to the confirmation message the customers receive when their order is successfully taken. Often, people don’t pay much attention to microcopies; it’s their absence that annoys visitors and hurt businesses. Imagine, ordering a product with a hefty price tag and not receiving any feedback on whether the payment was successful or not. Would you try one more time? What if you end up purchasing the same thing for the second time? Would you consider this website and hence, the company trustworthy? Microcopies are the unsung heroes of any e-commerce website, and they can reinforce or diminish the credibility of a business.
Zappos uses microcopy to reassure and inform its customers by explaining why they have the option to keep the customers signed in. This is an easy yet efficient way of building trust within their customers.
While this is true for both B2C and B2B e-commerce platforms, one thing that separates B2B e-commerce practices from B2C is how creative and playful one can get when it comes to microcopy. Since delighting the user in B2B e-commerce boils down to making their job easier, the more direct the microcopy in B2B e-commerce websites, the better. So, businesses should avoid leaving their customers guessing what actions to take when they are in a hurry to get something done. Instead, they should help their customers achieve their goals.
B2B businesses are aware of the benefits of having an e-commerce platform. However, to get the most out of it, the companies need to make the customers their priorities and strive to make the job of their customers easier. One of the most efficient ways of accomplishing that is through perfecting the UX design of the e-commerce platform. There are several ways of doing that:
Make sure to provide user-friendly site navigation through information architecture that makes sense to your customers.
Test your information architecture with your actual customers.
Have content that supports the decision-making process for all parties involved.
Ensure that your microcopy texts are direct and useful.
In case you missed it, here is the first part of “How to increase the performance of your e-commerce website through user experience design” Check it out to learn how to provide efficient and fast site navigation, checkout phase, and professional interface design.