Growth-driven design (GDD) is, in my humble opinion, the best way to develop and maintain websites today. Traditional methods of website development and project management often produce lackluster results, or worse, failed projects. Traditional website-development projects are usually sad tales of missed deadlines and cost overruns, and they are likely to miss the mark when it comes to design or capabilities. Most often, these projects are reflective of a best-guess design when the project is initiated, and are not reflective of the actual end users' needs. By nature, they are unlikely to be oriented towards responding to users' real-life interactions with the design and subsequent variations. Even when changes are deemed necessary, a change order and additional cost are virtually guaranteed before implementation.
What Is Growth-driven Design?
Growth-driven web design involves a quick launch of the website and is followed by a process of constant improvement based upon data collected through actual user interactions with the website. Rather than educated guesses on the front end, the design of the website is constantly reviewed in the light of current user-provided data, and changes are made over time to provide the greatest impact toward meeting key metric goals. Growth-driven design is a smarter approach to web design that reduces the stress and time demands of traditional web design while improving upon results and helping to inform other parts of the business.
What Are the Three Stages of Growth-driven Design?
Phase 1: Strategy
The goal of the strategy phase is to gain an understanding of your target website visitor and how to best design the website according to their needs and thought processes. You need to understand what their challenges are and how they make decisions (and ultimately, what questions they have when they engage with your website content).
- Goal setting - What do we want to accomplish with the website and how will it impact the users?
- Develop buyer personas - Learn more about buyer personas here.
- Look at your fundamental assumptions - Fundamental assumptions are assumptions website owners and website developers often make about the business and personas. You should examine the riskiest ones and validate those through website visitor research.
- Formalize a buyer's journey map - Work with your sales team to try to document precisely what information and tools your ideal customers will be looking for at each stage in the buyer's journey as they interact with the website.
- Create a wish list - Conduct a brainstorming session during which you think through every section, page, feature, and module of the website that will drive value for the website user. You could end up with as many as 200 ideas by the time you're finished. Prioritize your list from core elements to mere niceties.
Phase 2: Launchpad Website
A launchpad website is a website built with only the core value-driving elements. Its purpose is to get the new website up quickly with all of the most critical components in place.
- Launch the website - The goal is to quickly start collecting visitor data and feedback. Don't get hung up trying to implement everything in your wish list. In spite of your natural inclination, everything in your list is not essential to the initial launch. Keep in mind that there will be many more iterations of the website.
- Assess users interactions - Try to determine what they have taken away/noticed on the website. Is it what you were intending? Where do they seem to get lost or focus on the wrong element?
- Assess the numbers - Look at bounce rates, click-through rates, time on website, etc. Use tools like HubSpot, or tools that offer heat mapping and session-recording to provide additional insights.
Phase 3: Continuous Improvement
This phase is when you start collecting real data from the launchpad website. Think about the most high-impact items based on the collected user data. Hypothesize what changes could make substantive improvements, and add those to your wish list.
Now filter and prioritize your wish list. Based on the user data and your hypotheses, assess which 20% of the ideas would drive 80% of the impact. These are the best opportunities for improvement in your growth-driven design methodology. Some aspects consider:
- Audience volume - Does the website have a solid stream of organic visitors? This is important, because if you don’t have a decent threshold of visitors coming to the site, all other efforts will be based on minimal user data and won’t have much impact. Focus first on driving visitors.
- Value - Are visitors finding value in what is posted on your site? If not, how can you make improvements? Or do you need to eliminate certain elements that are not driving value?
- Usability - Focus on making sure visitors can intuitively find the information they are looking for as quickly as possible. Are your visitors getting distracted from doing what you want them to do?
- Conversion rate optimization - Take a look at all of the conversion funnels on the site and find ways to reduce friction or simplify conversion opportunities.
- Personalization - Examine how you can segment the website into personalized experiences based on specific criteria. This can be done by persona, geographic region, or life-cycle stage.
- Asset creation - Your website, blog, social following, and email list are all assets and hold value. Create additional assets that generate the most value to you and your customers.
- Promoters - Consider how you can get visitors to tell their friends, family, and colleagues about your website, and encourage them to experience that type of value as well. Include social sharing options visibly near your content.
While much of this may seem intuitive, the vast majority of website development efforts include little or none of these elements. Growth-driven web design provides website owners with a unique opportunity to move beyond a static web brochure that fails to meet visitor expectations and toward a lead- and revenue-generating powerhouse. There is often concern over monthly costs associated with GDD, but frankly, in our almost twenty years of developing websites and as a current growth-driven design agency, it is the traditional website development efforts that lack a true return on investment, while the GDD websites provide tremendous returns.
If you'd like to explore how your next redesign effort can avoid the all-too-typical cycle of cost overruns, frustrating conflicts of out-of-sync expectations, and lackluster results, please give us a shout. If you are current taking advantage of Hubspot as a CRM, we are specialized in growth-driven design Hubspot solutions. We'd love to show you another way!