As industrial professionals increasingly rely on the Internet to perform key job responsibilities, it’s critically important that your website is meeting their expectations and delivering the information they need quickly and efficiently. If not, you may be missing out on valuable opportunities to connect and engage with your target audience.
At IHS GlobalSpec, we recently completed a redesign of our GlobalSpec.com website. Based on our experiences and understanding our goal of delivering an exceptional user experience, here are three key questions you need to ask yourself before you start your next website redesign.
Are you delighting your users?
It’s a pretty simple formula but worth recognizing before making any changes to your website. If you make it easy for your website visitors to find what they want, they will build a trust with you and rely on your site for future needs. This allows you to build stronger relationships with your audience and create deeper engagement opportunities.
Industrial professionals rely on GlobalSpec.com as a key resource for finding and discovering the products and services they need to do their jobs. For the site redesign, our focus was to further simplify this product and information discovery process. We wanted to make it even easier, faster and more efficient for our audience to learn about suppliers and find products and services.
We accomplished this through enhanced search features, more prominent filtering options and a streamlined structure and design.
For your website, another key resource for industrial professionals during their research and discovery phase is the important information about your products and services. Can your visitors quickly learn about your company and what you have to offer?
By delivering an outstanding and intuitive user experience, you will be better positioned to connect with your target audience and generate demand opportunities.
Are you taking advantage of advancements in web design?
New developments in website design may seem to come fast and furious and it can be difficult to keep up all of these advancements. But remember, you don’t need to chase every shiny nickel that rolls down the sidewalk. You will only want to implement new technologies if they enhance the user experience and help you accomplish your business objectives.
For the redesigned GlobalSpec.com, keeping in mind the goal of a faster and easier product search and discovery process, we implemented enhancements that helped us reach those objectives.
- Mega menus are a great way for website users to navigate a website especially if you have several product categories and subcategories. With one or two clicks from any page on your website, your audience can find the information they need and you have begun to build a trust with them.
- Using auto complete to offer suggestions as a user enters a keyword in your search box is a popular and convenient way to help your audience quickly find that they need. Type in the first couple of letters of a product or service in the search box on GlobalSpec.com and you’ll start receiving suggested matches. Keep typing and these suggestions are further refined.
- Since searching is the primary way industrial professionals navigate GlobalSpec.com, we made our search results pages even more powerful. Now after an initial search, our audience can filter their results by including additional criteria by text or by following links to relevant product categories.
Why did we choose to include these features into the website design? It’s true that some other sites had incorporated these functions and, from a web technology perspective, this was “pretty cool stuff.” But that’s not the criteria to consider considering when changing your website. These features enhanced the user experience and matched our goal of delivering an even easier and more intuitive search and discovery process.
Does your search function meet your visitors’ expectations?
Search is not only the main method for our audience to find their way through GlobalSpec.com. It is the preferred behavior of most web users to navigate websites. Years ago, you found information on the Internet through directories. Think back to how Yahoo! was first structured. A web page presented several category links and you clicked on the one you thought was the most relevant for your search. Then you were likely presented with another page of links to help further refine your search. It was a clunky way to find information and could be rather confusing if your perspective of the information you needed wasn’t aligned with the directory structure.
The Internet has thankfully evolved and search has replaced directories as its main navigation tool. Search functionality continues to improve and drive efficiencies and is now a necessary and critical component in the user experience for virtually any website.
How is the search functionality on your website? Have your search capabilities matured to match the expectations of your site visitors? Is the search feature on your site delivering relevant information quickly and efficiently? Those are questions to ask yourself as you consider your next website redesign.
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Are you in the midst of a website redesign or planning to start one? What questions are you asking yourself? How focused are you on your user’s experience, advances in web design or search functionality? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.