5 principles to future-proof your B2B website

Digital technology is in a constant state of flux, which can make it tricky for businesses to keep up and stay ahead of the curve.

But in a world that is prone to rapid change and accelerated transformation (as we’ve certainly witnessed in 2020), brands can take steps to become more proactive, future-proofing their B2B platforms in the process.

It’s important to remember that future-proofing isn’t just a matter of supporting the latest developments in tech, but also requires understanding and supporting shifts in your audience’s needs. Having worked on the development on New Fortress’ new website, which recently won Best Website at the ANA Global Ace Awards, I’ve detailed a few learnings on how brands can similarly futureproof below.

Balance custom modules and APIs to enhance your website

One of the biggest inhibitors to future-proofing a brand’s platform is the legacy system: it’s just too tough to build new applications and interfaces within an infrastructure that’s already pushed to its limits. Thankfully, APIs offer a simple, plug-and-play way to integrate new features and connect data across the brand—though you can also take things a step further in the development process.

New Fortress used Greenhouse to attract talent and make the hiring process more efficient. In our new website for the brand, we developed custom modules including one that would pull job postings and applications from Greenhouse and translate them, further streamlining the hiring process for the international brand. As your own brand grows and develops in the future, this method of connecting and adjusting APIs can help you improve digital maturity bit by bit rather than worry about being locked into a single legacy platform.

One of my favorite features of the New Fortress website, though, is an interactive map that lets visitors view and explore the business’ operations around the world. While we could have used Google Maps or a similar plugin to plot out these locations, the brand opted for a bespoke, visually unique module that would let them continually update new locations with ease.

Treat information layout with care

People contain multitudes—and so does your brand. Exploring the multifaceted story of your brand can be difficult and overwhelming, particularly when it comes to how you organize, label and lay out information. This becomes a challenge for any development project that requires input from several stakeholders, complicating not only where information sits in a navigation bar or sitemap but also the kind of terminology that you’ll use.

With a focus on future-proofing your website, keep user personas in mind to develop a series of broad categories and contexts that will feel intuitive to website visitors, while also allowing wiggle room for new content as your brand continues to grow and evolve. New Fortress Energy wanted to tell their story through people, scholarship and stories, so we put those stories front and center.

Keep visitors on their toes with personalised paths

Continuing on the topic of surfacing up the most relevant information to B2B website visitors, use data to better understand website visitors and develop dynamic personalized paths based on the personas you’re catering to. The majority of consumers think brands should automatically adjust content based on context—and while a B2B audience isn’t exactly the same as a standard consumer, many of the same rules apply.

And speaking of B2B vs. B2C, understand that while B2C marketing is focused on eliminating barriers to purchase, your audience has come to your website because they’re interested in absorbing the information you have to offer. Understand that while your audience may be motivated to investigate your brand, use personalization to make it easy for them to access information and control their journey.

Finally, be open to trying new personas as priorities change. Because New Fortress Energy invests in the communities in which the brand is based around the world, we also had to cater the web experience to journalists and government officials.

Adopt a business-to-human mindset

In envisioning a future-forward platform for your business, take the opportunity for a more human approach. The B2C and B2B dichotomy has eroded over the years, giving way to a new creative and development mindset: business to human. Rather than stick to a buttoned-up design, allow your brand to freshen its image and become more authentic through creative content that connects emotionally with audiences and inspires.

Throughout the New Fortress Energy website, we supported this through video and photo content depicting the impact the brand makes in communities around the world. The video is particularly notable for having animated flourishes that at first might have seemed too whimsical for the brand. But within our detailed discovery phase of development, we found through workshopping that a surprising number of stakeholders were interested in pursuing a more imaginative and creative direction.

Take advantage of a robust discovery phase

Whether tackling a complete platform overhaul or just making tweaks to a specific corner of your website, take full advantage of the discovery phase offered by your development partners, ensuring that they have a complete understanding of not only stakeholder goals, but also how people perceive the brand. A good partner must learn the terminology and emotion behind the brand and should work to be perceived as a partner rather than just another vendor.

Through this close sense of partnership, your partner is better equipped to help you envision and plan toward long-term goals—maybe even find new opportunities for improvement that you hadn’t considered or anticipated. Ensure partners have a vested interest in your success and that both parties feel like one seamless, cohesive team working together both now and into the future.

The B2B Marketing Leaders report 2020

We recently sent a survey based on the four pillars of execution to 100 marketing leaders. The results of this survey were used in this report to demonstrate where marketers are at in their journey to digital marketing maturity. Check out all the findings here.

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