A successful enterprise website is the nexus of your company.
It serves as a connection between your customers and your business, allowing both the giving and receiving of information to seamlessly run both ways. The stronger the structure facilitating that communication, the more effective your site will be.
A website might begin with a beautiful landing page, compelling images, and informative content. These elements will always be essential, but as you grow your business, team, and customer base, the structures that support the captivating front page need to develop accordingly.
With a larger user base comes an increased need for robust security, adaptability, and accessibility. With more information and features to navigate, it becomes more important for the architecture of your site to be intuitive and navigable. As your team grows, you will need systems in place that enable them to collaborate effectively in building your site and utilizing the customer information that comes through it.
An enterprise website should be designed from the beginning to be able to scale and support each of these functions so it can effectively serve your users as your business grows. Here, we dive deep into the 7 pillars that make up for a successful enterprise site, both in the present and for years to come.
An enterprise business will have aspirations for growth and success. It is vital to that success your website is able to scale up in volume along with your increasing growth. If your website isn’t prepared to support increased capacity, it can easily become slow, out of date, or compromised.
Growth means higher traffic — both regular daily visitors and potential sudden surges from press attention or a sudden viral post (the dreaded “hug of death” or Slashdot Effect). Users have high standards for an enterprise website and will expect it to stay up and running, so make sure you have robust hosting that can withstand both steady growth and sudden popularity.
If you are collecting user data, what is manageable at a small scale may quickly become overwhelming at a high volume. Ensure you have the resources to house and organize that data by building an effective customer relationship management (CRM) system into your site. Your user data is incredibly valuable, and you want to be able to utilize it effectively as you grow.
A solid content management system (CMS) will also support growth by helping organize the images, information, and other assets you are using to build out your website. Systematic, predictable organization of content supports your designers and developers in building out new areas of your website and in maintaining existing ones.
If a site is not scalable, it will require a refresh or expensive wholesale reworking once your business outgrows it. While waiting on developers to complete a site refresh, you risk downtime or being stuck with an obsolete site. No-code platforms can support scalability and avoid development delays. A scalable website can grow organically as your business does, incorporating new needs seamlessly and ensuring your website is always representing you well.
2. Compliant security
An enterprise website’s design must be compliant with up-to-date security measures, not just for the sake of your business’s information but for the trust and confidence of your customers. A security breach, no matter how small, severely erodes customer confidence. Up-to-date security practices communicate professionalism and excellence.
There are certain industry gold standards around making a site secure. SOC 2 compliance is the best way to evaluate whether your service provider is on top of security because it involves a thorough outside audit. The AICPA lays out the requirements for compliance in five areas:
- Security: Systems and information are protected from unauthorized access.
- Availability: Those systems are available to be used consistently.
- Processing Integrity: Systems operate in a timely and accurate manner.
- Confidentiality: Information designated confidential is protected.
- Privacy: That information is collected, retained when used, and then securely disposed of
It is also wise to support single sign-on or two-factor authentication for user logins. These measures are the best way to protect customer’s information and profiles. Look for a web host or web development program that can support these features.
Security also involves people, not just software. Make sure your team is educated on common scams such as phishing emails and aware of the best ways to avoid spyware and malware. Having your IT team teach security best practices and promote awareness will support a more secure company.
3. Clear information architecture
Information architecture is the organization of the content facing the customer. The IA Institute says, “A good IA helps people to understand their surroundings and find what they’re looking for – in the real world as well as online.” An enterprise website design with strong information architecture will feel effortless for the user, easily connecting them to the information and features they are looking for.
Like the layout of a building, the architecture of your website should follow a clear logic, anticipating the way customers will naturally want to use the site. A good way to do this is by designing for users' Mental Models which are the assumptions users have about where to find what they are looking for when they’re on your site.
Based on previous use of websites, a user may expect to find the “login” button on the upper right corner and expect it to be labeled “login.” If it’s on the bottom left, nested under a drop-down menu, and labeled “Profile,” it may take them longer to find, frustrating them and making them less likely to utilize your services. Keeping this mental model in mind while designing navigation, buttons, and forms will help your designers build a more effective enterprise website.
4. Conversion-focused design
A key function of an enterprise website is customer conversion. The features of your site should be designed to attract, educate, and convert browsing users into loyal customers. This makes it one of your most powerful marketing tools.
It is important to keep in mind an enterprise website is interactive and receives as much information as it transmits. Empower your marketing team to utilize site data and execute marketing initiatives on your site directly in order to support conversion.
Energy is spent attracting potential clients to the site, and just as much attention should be paid to converting those clients to loyal users once they are there. Real-time marketing is one effective way to engage customers and can increase conversion rates by 26%, according to the Monetate marketing report. Instead of a one-sided billboard or print ad, a blog or web page can be monitored by your marketing team, enabling them to make changes on the fly.
By allowing your marketing team to glean customer behavior insights from your website and enact strategies in real-time, they are able to respond to feedback and continually improve their approach.
No-code web design solutions can enable marketing teams to respond in real-time to customer behavior. Upwork built a robust CMS in Webflow that allowed them to build and launch site elements quickly and see the effects as they went live.
Conversion can also be driven by simple, effective changes in your website design, such as including a site search field in your design. Not only do you gain actionable, high intent data from the search behavior of your users, but if that search is well designed and returns relevant results, it will also satisfy customers and drive conversion.
5. A unified design system
A design system consists of a set of internal guidelines and pre-built elements that keep your website design consistent and unified. This design system creates a single source of truth any department can draw upon when building materials for your web presence.
Building a distinct style guide can be an effective approach. This can be a hidden page linked to your main website containing guidelines and explanations of your company’s design approach. It can also take the form of a separate internal website anyone in the company can access for reference. There, you can outline typography and layout choices, color schemes, and stylistic approaches, all in one place.
Another approach is to create pre-built templates that can be directly utilized anywhere on the website. This is easy to do with a no-code design program that enables the creation of repeatable Symbols and Classes. Your marketing and design departments can then assemble pages and new parts of the website with pre-established, pre-approved, pre-built components. This helps to effectively close the design development gap — empowering your designers and freeing up your engineering team for more pressing and business-critical functions.
MURAL effectively overhauled their website as they grew by utilizing a design system in Webflow. This enabled them to make their design approach more consistent across their web presence and significantly speed up their design and prototyping process, receiving feedback and making adjustments much more quickly than before.
6. Responsive design
Responsive web design enables your enterprise website design to be legible and easy to use across many different browsers and devices. 92.8% of internet users now access the internet via mobile, and 62% of buyers use the mobile web to make purchases. With that increased mobile phone use, a successful enterprise website needs to be just as beautiful and functional on a smartphone as it is on a desktop computer.
A responsive design will ensure:
- Layout changes to accommodate the size of the screen (and orientation — horizontal or vertical)
- Typography size scales so it is comfortably readable on all devices
- Images adjust to remain fully visible and are the correct file size to ensure the website loads quickly
- Buttons and navigation are large enough to operate on a small screen and with touch operation
- Gesture functionality (swipe, pinch, tap) works on touchscreen devices
Responsive design is also an element of search engine optimization (SEO), as Google’s recent update specifically rewards responsive design in its search results.
Responsive design is achieved by utilizing relative units and media queries that trigger your layout and design to adjust with the user’s screen dimensions. This can be coded with CSS, but no-code programs will have responsive design built into their templates and can make the process more seamless.
Accessibility is important for many users, not just those with disabilities. Having an accessible site will also benefit those with situational limitations, temporary disabilities, age-related challenges, and even internet connectivity issues. Having an accessible website serves your users, helps your business, and may even be required by law, depending on where you are located.
Accessibility is determined by many different elements of your website design. It can be as simple as the color and contrast of your text (important for those with color blindness) or as detailed as including written alt-text in each of your images (allows those using screen-readers to understand the images on your website). Responsive design also supports accessibility, making it easier for users with low or no vision to size typography up or down and use screen readers.
A thorough and up-to-date look at current guidelines can be found at the Web Accessibility Initiative, but ultimately it can be broken down into four categories:
- Perceivable: Users can identify content on the page. Many users may perceive a site primarily visually, but for others, it may mean sound or touch.
- Operable: Users can identify controls and successfully use them. This could mean utilizing voice commands or the computer keyboard rather than the mouse.
- Understandable: Comprehensible by the audience without undue effort. It features consistent structure, clear layout, and easily understandable language.
- Robust: Supports the use of assistive technology and is IT-standards compliant.
Having an auditing system for your site’s accessibility can be helpful, especially if your business and website are actively growing. This accessibility checklist is an excellent place to start.
Structure your enterprise website design to support customers and staff
Building an enterprise website that includes these features means your site will meet professional standards and will be prepared to accommodate expansion. This takes work off your team’s plate at the times when growth is at its most explosive. These are key moments of opportunity, and if you have built this solid foundation, your design, marketing, and engineering teams will be free to innovate, experiment, and improve.
Design can add content knowing it will be easy for users to find and play with innovative looks for your site without worrying it will alienate users with accessibility needs. Marketing can draw on user interaction to gain insight and create exciting new initiatives to engage users. Engineering is freed from site maintenance and able to focus on perfecting your product and developing new elements of your web presence across platforms.
Each of these pieces is going to be helpful to a website no matter the size, but when it comes to enterprise website design, they are essential. These seven elements build a foundation that is secure, accessible, and able to serve the needs of both your users and your teams. By ensuring you’ve met these standards from the beginning, your site and your company can scale safely and focus on growth instead of catching up.