(and why B2B SaaS companies shouldn’t design it like a brochure)
Your website is a journey, not a destination.
What do we mean by that?
It means that your visitors don’t arrive on your website and call it a day. If you are a B2B SaaS company, your website is the pathway to your sales funnel.
A good website will allow your visitors to follow a clear pathway from the moment they land on your page. Each visitor typically has a clear goal in mind, depending on where they are in your customer lifecycle.
Your website should gently guide them towards that goal (hello UX and UI! 👋).
This is a typical SaaS customer lifecycle through the lens of the pirate funnel.
Your goal is to take them from the awareness stage, starting from your website, down to the referral stage.
In other words, your website is only the beginning of their journey.
Not the end.
If you’re wondering: What if I don’t have a perfect website?! 😱 .
We’re here to tell you that perfection is a myth, and it’s not the same as seeking excellence. A website that works and sells well is like your SaaS solution — it’s never complete, and its success lies in continuous development.
That means launching your website even before it reaches what you believe to be the ‘perfect’ stage to know if you’re still moving in the right direction. The reason?
The answers you’re seeking are in the analytics. Data comes from having actual visitors to provide you with feedback, and what you do with that information is entirely up to you. Everything else remains an assumption that needs validation.
Assume you decide to wait until you have the perfect website. Chances are, you will exceed your budget and schedule because perfection is a myth. And you still won’t know whether you’ve done everything right until you receive feedback from your actual visitors.
Say you learned that your website is not performing as you’d like it to — high bounce, low conversion. What do you do next? Do you:
The first option means starting an entire project from scratch and taking another shot in the dark — you still won’t know if something is working until you receive feedback.
If you wouldn’t do that with your SaaS solution, why would you do that with your website?
The second option allows you to test and figure out if you’ve made the right choices with the content, images, and graphics. A better way to balance quality and resources AND have continuous development until you build a website that works and sells well.
In the world of growth marketing, this process has a name — Growth-Driven Design (GDD).
Design is one of the most misunderstood fields. Designers aren’t just ‘artsy people who make things pretty’. A good design requires more science than art.
Beyond aesthetics, a good design encompasses the following:
Growth-driven design is an approach that delivers all of the above and drives optimal results using data — similar to designing a good SaaS solution. When B2B SaaS companies think about website design in an agile manner, their website becomes:
🚀 Has growth targets; and
🚀 Has clear goals
After all, your website is a tool that will guide your website visitors through the pirate funnel. Here is how it works in a nutshell:
We know that we first need to build a solid foundation before building a house. Else, you’re in trouble. You may think: It’s just a website. Why are we talking about building a foundation?
It’s because there’s a difference between a website and a good website. Let’s take a look at some examples from our daily lives that require a foundation before it gets good:
All of the above share one thing in common: having the right ingredients, tools, measurements, and constant iteration in place to turn whatever you’re doing into something good — your website is no different.
To start building a solid foundation for your website, and before a designer can get to work on it, you need to answer the following questions first:
This is the most important element before you set anything in motion. Else, you run the risk of doing something for the sake of doing. We don’t want that, do we? For better time investment sake, here are some of the questions to ponder upon:
If you ever tried doing stand-up comedy or anything remotely close to public speaking, you probably know how it feels like to bomb on stage. Crickets. Silence. Your audience is ignoring you. To avoid your website becoming an empty auditorium, think of the following:
When a visitor lands on your website, it typically means that they are looking for a SaaS solution that will solve their pain point and help get their jobs done. Before you start treating your website like a bazaar with a million options to choose from, think about:
You need to measure the success of your SaaS website before you can make continuous improvements. Consider
👏 Are you still with us? 👏
It’s okay. Building a foundation is hard work. But we promise you that once you have all of the above in place, you can start putting together the main ingredients that will lead customers into your SaaS sales funnel.
Your SaaS website foundation only needs the following ingredients:
You may find yourself asking: do I need a strategy? It’s just a website.
The answer is, yes, you do.
Treat your website the way you would treat the development of your SaaS solution.
No strategy means no goals, no action plans, and no way to measure your efforts. Without it, you’re just taking a shot in the dark. A good strategy will include at least:
Having a clear idea of your business objectives should help answer the question, what do you want to achieve on your website?
🚀 If you’re selling directly on your website, your business objective is typically to get more sales and customers.
🚀 If not, your goal is to acquire leads through trial sign-ups or contact requests.
🚀 If your objective is to reduce the number of support tickets, then your website needs to serve its purpose of helping existing customers solve their challenges.
Conversion is the desired action you want the website visitor to take. Conversions are ways to measure whether your website is aligned with business goals. For example:
If your potential customer doesn’t know what to do next, they’ll do the exact thing you DON’T want them doing — Leave.
Let’s say your business objective is to generate sales and get new customers or leads. Then these are defined as primary conversions.
However, it’s also vital to define secondary conversions because not all of your potential customers are ready to buy immediately.
Secondary conversion means the action doesn’t yet match the existing business objectives but is on the right path — visitors are not ready to be customers yet. But they will be later on. These can include:
Naturally, these conversion paths vary for different websites. But conversion paths are only smart and effective when they are specific and measurable.
You can’t improve what you can’t measure. The only way to know if your website renewal is successful is by setting website metrics and KPIs aligned with your business goals.
Now that you know your business goals and metrics, the next step is to define your ideal customer profile (ICP) and draw them to your website.
Remember that your website is a journey and not a destination.
Your goal is to keep leading them down the funnel. When a potential customer visits your website, it means they already have some kind of interest in your products or services. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have ended up there.
Maybe they found you on Google or saw your ad on social media. Perhaps it was a colleague or a friend who recommended you. The point is they have an interest in your solution, and they were curious enough to invest their time in checking out your website.
Great, that’s a good starting point! 💪
But how do you get them to move through the funnel and start converting? 🤔
Let’s take a look 👀
The objective of someone visiting your website is to evaluate your service. It means they have a specific challenge and are seeking solutions for it. In other words, they have a job they need your service to do — jobs to be done.
The “Jobs to be done” framework is a theory used to explain the motivations and desired outcomes behind why people buy. The reason is straightforward:
Potential customers have a job they need done and need help achieving the desired outcome. Your goal is to get your ideal customers to start using your service to complete a job instead of using their current service or doing it themselves.
Now, imagine the following scenario:
Assuming you need help fixing a window frame at home but don’t have the right tools. You reach out to a few friends to ask for help. Two of them came back to you with the following options:
Friend A: “I have an electric drill, screws, white paint, and a tall ladder. I can help you put the window frame back together so the rain won’t seep through.”
Friend B: “Here, have some soup. You won’t go hungry fixing the window frame.”
Who would you engage to help you get the job done?
Clearly, Friend A.
That said, the goal of your messaging on your website is to communicate how you can help your target audience achieve their desired outcome. Otherwise, you’ll end up talking to an empty auditorium.
Curious about the “Jobs to be done” framework? It’s the foundation of our customer research and how we help our customers be in front of the right audience. To learn more:
The next task in the strategy is to define how you will structure your website — this is where design plays a crucial role.
It’s no coincidence that many SaaS company websites have the same structure. It’s because it plays into the customers’ familiarity of finding information on a website in a certain way.
There is a psychological phenomenon known as the mere-exposure effect. It means that people prefer things they find familiar, or it may be considered unreliable.
Think about how you want to structure your offering and how you want your customers to go through your website. It’s okay to use other SaaS companies as a benchmark. However, remember that your website visitors are in different customer journey stages.
For example, some visitors are visiting for the first time and are unsure what they are looking for. For others, they may be on the edge of deciding that they would like to purchase your product.
Remember, a good design encompasses the following:
Start structuring your website by thinking about the different customer journey stages through the lens of the pirate funnel.
Your website plays a crucial role in the following stages:
It’s crucial to educate your potential customer. At this stage, visitors know they have a problem and seek solutions to help them get a job done. They are aware you exist.
Before considering your solution as an option, they seek more information to help them decide. It means that they are looking for resources to understand their problem better and possibly even find solutions already.
Your website should reflect your guidance and expertise on the matter without overwhelming your audience with information — just enough to help them move on to the next stage.
Your goal: Explain WHY they should consider taking this journey with you.
With a better understanding of their challenges, your potential customers in this stage are ready to look for exact solutions to solve their problems. They are considering your products and services as an option.
When designing this section, it is crucial to remember that your potential customers are still uncertain about taking the next step. They need reassurance that your solution is the right fit in getting their job done.
Your goal: Explain HOW they can solve the problem.
Potential customers are still in the consideration stage but are veeeeery close to moving into their final decision. Before taking that step, your potential customers will evaluate your solution against competitors and ultimately come to a conclusion. To tackle this stage, you should have pages that display your:
Your goal: Explain WHAT they can expect from your solution.
To sum it all up, there are three main themes to bear in mind when designing the structure of your website:
More importantly, make sure you know your target audience. It all boils down to knowing your ICP and tailoring your messaging accordingly. Otherwise, you will end up talking to an empty auditorium.
After all that work, let’s see what you have in the bag now:
🎯 The goals of your website
📈 Key metrics and KPIs
👥 Your target audience and the jobs they want to complete
💻 The structure of your website
With all that, it’s go time — you’re ready to redesign your SaaS website! 👏
The traditional way of website design is to build your website entirely upon assumptions. It means putting in all your effort, time, and budget for an intense project implementation that lasts four to six months.
But the problem is, you’ll only start gathering data after the website launch. But the project is now over and done with. It means that your website is left entirely unoptimized.
What if we tell you there is a better way of designing a website?
Yes, we’ve been talking about it the entire time — the agile design process that has a name, growth-driven design!
The key is to focus on what matters.
Most websites have several key pages, while the rest of the website makes up a tiny percentage of your website and traffic.
Everything needs to be 100% ready for the launch in traditional website design. You end up wasting weeks crafting the content and design for the sections that don’t matter much. And if you need to get approvals or opinions from stakeholders, they may delay the whole project even more.
You’ll only need half the time to create a better version than your current website instead of putting aside four to six months to build a ‘perfect’ website. But, and a huge BUT, it’s not your final delivery.
This first version of your website is the foundation that will collect real-user data, which you’ll start to optimize along the way. Remember, perfection is not the same as striving for excellence.
Excellence is a continuous process of testing, improving, and building a wishlist of things you would like to improve. The benefits of this approach are:
The agile method is not a foreign concept in the SaaS world. There are three steps in the agile website development process: The first look, feedback and iteration, and developing the final version.
In the first step, you start with your message and copy. Once those are finalized, shift the focus towards creating visual aspects. Therefore, it’s important to finalize the message before any design work begins because the page visuals are built accordingly.
The first step also includes a prototype — a wireframe of how your page would look. This wireframe must be agreed on together before continuing forward on actual designs.
In the second step, a designer continues the work based on the content and the wireframe. The designer’s goal is to work towards creating a final design. Essentially, it should be ready for launch after the first design round.
When the first round of design is ready, it’s feedback time! The focus should only be on the visuals since the copy has been finalized in the first step.
The visual feedback should focus on the following topics:
If you want the process to be efficient, you should avoid feedback on personal preferences and vague suggestions. For example, avoid making requests that start with “Could we try..” or “It should be more..”.
Any wishes or requests about the structure, design, colors, and reference websites need to be communicated at the beginning of the project to make the design process as efficient as possible.
Make changes if something is not aligned with the brand, wrong colors are used, or the image needs to be replaced. All required changes should be listed as exact action points and communicated to the designer.
In the third step, the designer then makes these agreed changes. This typically happens quickly since the change requests are exact actions that need to be taken.
The stakeholder then reviews the final version against the list and checks that changes have been made accordingly. If so, the page is now ready and waiting for the launch.
At this point, it is crucial that you avoid the perfection syndrome. Remember, perfection is not the same as striving for excellence. With the above changes, your website is already better than before.
For any additional changes or preferences, create a wish list and put it on hold for now until your website is launched and has gotten some actual feedback and data from a live audience. By launching quickly, you can use actual data to prioritize improvements and see whether those items in your wishlist are still valid.
This is how the agile design process works in a nutshell. It is fast and efficient, but the real value is that new pages get out quicker instead of keeping your outdated pages live.
Your new website is now launched (yaaaay!). But as said, this is just a starting point towards making it a good website.
Continuous development and improvement are what make the top-performing websites.
This process is done in sprint cycles which consist of four stages: plan, build, learn and transfer.
Sprints are usually monthly, and you start each sprint planning by looking at your data and asking what area and focus metric you want to improve.
Keep a wishlist of all the items you think you could improve on the website. That can be certain sections, graphics, content, design, integrations, anything that can enhance your website.
Then, start collecting user data of your live website so you can begin to identify actions that will boost your business the most. Pick your north star metric. Once you have it, select the ideas from the wishlist that will improve this metric and prioritize these ideas.
The next phase is to build these selected action items. This usually happens in cross-functional teams within the sprints. These shouldn’t be considered as final changes. Instead, as experiments — you won’t know if they work until you try them out.
Analyze the data to determine whether these action items improved the metric you were trying to improve. These tests will become new improvement ideas or experiments. Then, add them to the wishlist.
Finally, transfer your learnings and discoveries to other parts of your organization: marketing, sales, customer support, etc. Also, during this process, you usually generate new ideas that you want to test in the next sprint — don’t be surprised that your wishlist is also growing all the time!
If you are thinking about renewing your website but are not sure how to go forward, growth-driven design may be the right way for you to make your website renewal process a success.
The goal is to develop your website with a strategy — not for the sake of having a website. The journey to having a good website that works and sells well starts with having:
🚀 A solid foundation with goals, strategy, conversion paths and metrics, and a clear messaging;
🚀 A design with a clearly mapped site structure and customer journey;
🚀 A continuous data-driven iterative process.
Instead of waiting for a perfect website to be done, it is better to get a solid first version of your new website out sooner than later to replace your current out-of-date website. Then, make continuous improvements on your website and start driving results.
If you don’t know where to start, we’re here for you!