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How to Ensure Your B2B Website is Effective and User-Friendly [Expert Interview]

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Meet Cliff Seal.

Today we’re joined by special guest Cliff Seal, a prominent expert in the Atlanta tech community and a tenured member of the Pardot team. Cliff is here to share on an area of his User Experience (UX) expertise that is particularly pertinent to B2B marketers: website effectiveness and lead generation. 

Read up! And to learn more about our summer camp content series, please click here.

Alright, Cliff…

Tell us a little bit about your background with User Experience. What roles have you had at Salesforce Pardot over the years? Prior to/outside of Salesforce Pardot?

Like a lot of UX folks, I discovered how much I loved designing for experiences without really knowing that’s what I was doing. Before Pardot, I worked with a lot of nonprofits on their web presence and campaigns, and was really interested in figuring out what caused people to donate, get involved with a cause, or just give up their email addresses.

When I came to Pardot over three years ago, my focus was split between working on Pardot’s web presence and officially kickstarting our UX design efforts. I got the privilege of helping redesign both Pardot and Pardot.com within the same year or so. Now, my role is a lot more focused on Pardot itself — and I’m getting to work with an incredible, growing UX team full of smart people that aims to make Pardot better than ever for our customers.

You also have regular speaking gigs around Atlanta (and you’ve had speaking gigs around the world!). Can you tell us a little bit about that — your favorite topics to speak on, etc.?

Sure. The UX community is an interesting one because UX is kind of a developing field, with a lot of people coming at it from different angles. You have people like me who just kind of fell into it, and then you’ve got people coming at it from the tech angle with a Masters in Human-Computer Interaction, or people who are basically full-fledged researchers — so it’s hard to centralize around all these different angles.

A lot of the speaking stuff that I do on UX is less about very specific methodology; I’m a lot more interested in talking to people about what UX means, because that’s how I experienced coming into this field anyway. It was more like ‘this all makes sense’ before I even knew there was a science around it. Approaching it in that way, to me, makes more sense, and helps other people understand what it is and why it’s important more so than talking about the million different ways that you can solve a problem if you already have all of the technology background.

Yes, definitely; we’ve talked before on our blog about how marketers need to understand the psychology behind conversions, and adopt that same way of thinking that’s utilized in the UX community.

Basically, user experience is something that no marketer can afford to ignore — whether or not their business has the luxury of hiring a full-time UX role. What is some of the most basic advice you would give to a marketer who is trying to get started with UX?

Focus on the basics of user-centered design and practice thinking like your prospects and customers. It’s easy to get lost in all of the neat-looking methods associated with UX (walls of Post-it notes!), but the most important thing is understanding what a customer wants to be able to do with your product or service.

The companies that report results related to user experience design talk about how their approach changed. User-centered design isn’t a silver bullet or bolt-on tactic; it’s a ground-up rethinking of how you can tell a story about an awesome customer that chooses your offering, instead of telling a story about an awesome product or service.

That’s great advice. I think a lot of marketers are already starting to realize the impact of powerful customer stories.

Talking specifically about websites, what advice would you give to someone looking to redesign their B2B site for a better user experience? Any recommended resources if they want to learn more?

First and foremost, if performance (like loading time) and code quality weren’t a consideration with the site you already have, make them priority number one. Your SEO is increasingly affected by how fast your site renders and how well the HTML is written. It’s easy to get caught up in parallax scrolling and huge, beautiful images, but that needs to be balanced with modern, semantically-correct markup that loads quickly on any device and any connection.

If you’ve got that down, continue to experiment with calls-to-action and the ways you present them. Visitors convert not because your button was pretty, but because you asked them to take the right action at the right time, after giving the right amount of information. Talk to folks once they become customers and find out what their research looked like before they converted (and after). Optimize for giving people the right answers as quickly and easily as possible. Use beautiful interface design to build trust in your brand from there.

My favorite resource is Nielsen Norman Group. They do some of the best UX research anywhere, and nearly every article is a gut-check reminder that people are on the other end of your website.

[Editor’s note: Cliff has written a number of articles that delve further into this topic; check them out at the bottom of this post]. 

UX is extremely important for lead generation assets in particular. What are your favorite tips for creating effective landing pages and forms that will drive conversions?

Constantly look for that balance between getting the information you need to sell to them if they’re a good fit and keeping your forms as simple as humanly possible. I’m a big fan of progressive profiling, especially if some of those details help you determine whether a lead is a great fit or not. The more fields you add, the less likely someone is to complete that form, so design ways to get what you need without making the conversion process arduous.

If you’re offering something valuable to the visitor in exchange for their information, and you’ve done a great job explaining that value in the copy, go all in — remove navigation and other elements that give them a reason to click around more. If it’s not converting at that point, at least it’s easier to narrow down what you need to tweak and experiment with.

Alright, fun question time. You’ve hosted a number of ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions during your time here at Pardot, from the evolution of metal music to how to effectively use WordPress. If you could give one Lunch and Learn about something you’re passionate about (and it can be anything), what would it be?

 

You can think about it some and get back to us?

No, I know my answer, I’m just kind of afraid to say it out loud… black holes.

What followed was an extremely fascinating discussion of event horizons (not the 90s horror film), wormholes, and spacetime singularity — but the details will have to wait until Cliff’s Lunch and Learn. Until next time, thanks for reading our summer camp series, and be sure to check out Cliff’s helpful articles below!

More from Cliff:

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