The best website design companies for government contractors will stress the importance of designing a website that will produce results—engaging visitors, building relationships, and winning bids and contracts. Let’s explore the 5 keys.
Because federal customers often start their purchase journey with online research, your website design becomes the initial influence to connect with your buyers. Good design provides a direct path to the most useful content quickly and can build a seamless bridge into the sales process.
“70% of the buyer’s journey is complete BEFORE a buyer even reaches out to a salesperson.”1
As a government contractor or B2G provider, you need a website to convey more than just contact information and a product or service description. You must show credibility, relevance, professionalism and so much more. Your website acts as your foundation upon which you can build strong relationships. It is the center of your online presence and digital marketing activity.
For this reason, the power of your website is immense. When you take into consideration the 5 keys below, you can build a digital marketing program with the website at the core and outstanding results as the outcome.
Defining Website Design
What is design?
Is it color choice? The size and placement of words? Pictures, animations, or videos? Yes. Design is all these things. But to a growth-focused web design agency, it’s also much more.
Good design also considers your ideal audience and the buyer’s journey. This influences the design of the user experience (UX) so the journey through your website is easy, relevant, and leads to action. This “buyer’s journey” process formula can be designed right into your website.
Instantly your decision-maker must relate to the visual style, imagery, and usability of the site. If they initially feel that a site is readable, navigable, and has the potential to be a reliable resource, then they will likely stay past the first 5 seconds to learn more about your company and what you offer.
If, however, you fail in those first five seconds to make this critical connection, your website essentially just lost you that buyer and any potential contracts. So be sure to design your website with your federal buyer in mind. But how do you design that great experience into the first 5 seconds on your website?
Let’s explore the 5 key components, including and looking beyond purely website aesthetics.
1. Aesthetics—One Aspect of Website Design
Ok, so we can start with the obvious. How your site looks is the first thing most people think of when we discuss design. And this is a very important aspect of design. The look needs to represent the brand of the company and be a reflection of the mission and values you want to promote.
For example, a company promoting a highly technical solution wants to convey a clean, polished, technological image and aesthetic. It would be unlikely to have anything too cluttered or playful. This includes easy-to-read fonts, tech-related imagery, likely blues, blacks, and grays for main colors, and lots of white space. The white space allows the reader’s eyes to relax and the brain to process the content – especially when there is a lot of information or complex or technological data.
The main aesthetic components to factor into your website design are:
- Logo and other prominent brand features (mark, tagline)
- Colors (2-5 colors aligned with your brand guidelines)
- Typefaces (2-3 max that also follows brand guidelines)
- Graphics consistent with your brand and appealing to your ideal buyers
- Space (leave breathing room to process visuals, text, and data)
2. Organization and the Impact on Website Design
How you organize your design elements is the next main key to consider. Design organization is the juncture where your aesthetic begins to intersect with the buyer’s journey. You want to consider what your buyer is looking for at each stage in the research and contracting process and provide easy access to that information immediately—at this place on the webpage.
You can do this with:
- Clear navigation: well organized and intuitive based on you buyers’ search needs
- Easy to follow layout styles: keep categories of like pages all in the same layout format
- Dynamic feature blocks: showcasing strengths, differentiators, and key information
- Informative product pages: inviting visitors to read on and begin to know and trust your capabilities
- Predictable elements: navigation along the top or left, a logo returning to the Home page, a footer with contact information, a button to connect somehow, etc.
When you get into the process of choosing aesthetic elements and organizing your website, do it with simplicity in mind. A confused mind will always say no—and a confused website visitor will immediately bounce from your webpage and won’t likely come back.
Take the time to understand what questions your buyer has at various stages in the journey and answer them clearly, quickly, and simply on your website. Take them along the fastest path possible through the least amount of steps to get to what they want to learn, know or do.
Simplicity also refers to the amount, the layout, and the organization of information on a page. Design with a simple flow (see below about the F-pattern) and leave enough space for your visitor to process what they are seeing as they review the website pages.
One reliable layout design structure for your govcon website pages is called an “F-shape” or “F-pattern” that follows how our eyes naturally flow while reading. The hierarchy of information you want to share gets presented in a structure matching how the eye instinctively tracks. This creates ease for your visitor.
Typically a prominent image (or a logo on the header or home page) will be placed in the upper left corner. From there high priority content will flow from left to right. Then the eye naturally scans down the left line. This is a good place for navigation or dynamic features that can help your visitor find the information they’re looking for or quickly understand your story or differentiators.
Deliver information in the F formation quickly and you’ll have more success keeping your visitor satisfied and engaged.
3. Website Functionality
While it may not be the first thing you consider, you can and must also design the functionality of your website. All of the components of your website are indexed, tracked, and ranked by the search engines to determine how relevant you are to specific searchers. Also, different types of visitors will require different functionality like searching from a phone or tablet, downloading content, submitting a form, or sharing your content with a colleague.
Here are some functions to keep in mind as you design:
How fast your website loads with your graphics, videos, forms, etc, makes a difference to your visitor and also to the search engines. A good user experience is seamless, with no noticeable delay for click to load time. And the “technical design” also now hugely impacts search engine optimization (SEO).
When designing, there can be a natural conflict between the speed of a website and the number of graphics, animation, and videos that can be added without compromising this aspect of the website design. Google has established a set of Core Web Vitals that contribute to a good user experience. When followed, your site will be rewarded with more visibility.
Your website pages need to look great and work well on any device or browser. Responsive design ensures the design adjusts appropriately for the constraints and requirements of each environment. Both visitors and search engines notice any glitches.
Certain visitors require accessibility features. When you design them into your website, this can build trust. Or, if the features are not present, this can also break a relationship. Closed captions on videos or descriptive technology on images, for example, is a way to include deaf or partially sighted visitors.
Did you know you can program a series of steps to continue nurturing a connection once someone fills in a form or clicks a button? Monitoring your website visitor’s journey can provide the tools you need to design a follow-up sequence to continue the relationship and set yourself up to bid on or eventually win a contract.
4. Website Design and Engagement
In website design, engagement can mean a multitude of things. You can engage a website visitor by:
- sharing a photo that evokes a certain emotion.
- or by setting links to certain pages from the navigation.
- or contrasting buttons to “learn more”, “download content” or “fill out a form”.
- or even link a phone icon to make it easy to call.
Each of these actions occurs at a different stage in the buyer’s journey, so you need to design your engagement elements for visitors in each of these situations.
Your approach to engaging your visitor → prospect → buyer must be considered up front as you design your website. Because how you design this foundational component to your digital marketing program can mean the difference between converting that visitor through the rest of the buyer’s journey or not. It can mean the difference between helping your visitor learn more about you or sending them straight to your competitor.
Here are ways to engage visitors to take an action at various stages in the buyer’s journey:
Early or “top of the funnel”: use content on page or via downloads to educate, answer research questions, allow visitors to understand expertise.
- Detailed shareable and downloadable product pages
- Use cases or case studies
- White papers or guides showcasing expertise
Looking for potential providers or “middle of the funnel”:
- Create a simple subscription form — to sign up for ongoing communications
- Showcase testimonials and past performance
- More detailed downloadable guides, papers, etc in exchange for contact info
Ready to buy or “bottom of the funnel”: provide information that can help people make a purchase decision (and potentially support sales/business development activities).
- Post your capabilities statement as a download (be sure it’s branded)
- Showcase testimonials and past performance
- A contact form – with a personalized message field
All of these are ways to actively engage your website visitors along with, of course, interesting or “engaging” content that your visitors will want to read.
Some companies dive into a website design project without considering the business objectives or end goals of the marketing investment. When you factor these in from the kickoff meeting, and each step along the way, you’re more likely to achieve your business goals.
Besides more visitors or better conversions, are you striving for more: Profitability, Growth, Market Share, Brand Awareness? The more specific and clear you can be about your business objectives, the more you will design your website to meet them while you serve and delight your buyers.
The design of each of the above components will be a reflection of your intent, purpose, and approach. Before you even begin your website development project, you’ll want to consider your business goals and what you hope to gain from your website.
Is your website a means to an end (as in you expect your visitor to find you and just call?) or are you setting your government contractor website up to support your B2G company’s growth and long-term relationship building? These questions and your answers will lead you to very different design pathways. If growth is your goal, consider a growth-driven design approach.
Growth-Driven Design (GDD)
Growth-Driven Design is a methodology that offers a higher return on investment than the outdated traditional design approach. It also has the potential to generate revenue for the business faster. Sound good so far?
Get more information about GDD by reading our guide An Introduction to Growth Driven Design. In the guide, you’ll learn the benefits of GDD and the risks of traditional web development along with how to start capturing and converting leads sooner. It’s a smart approach to design and is definitely worth the effort.
Creating Your Most Effective Design
Whether you are upgrading your current website or starting from scratch, it’s important to consider your visitor at various stages of the buyer journey and factor in aesthetics, organization, functionality, engagement, and purpose. They are all important design categories that, combined, create a great experience for your buyer. If it’s all too much to think about and you are looking for help with your website design, we’ve compiled some questions you can explore with a web design agency to make sure you find the right fit.
Excellent design also means effective design, resulting in engaged visitors, return visitors, reliable conversions, and ultimately a healthy bottom line for the business.
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