Intro – Growth-Driven Design
We believe your website is your most powerful marketing tool. As your shopfront to the world, it is often the very first source of interaction any prospective customer has with your business.
With that in mind, why wouldn’t you ensure your site is optimised for success?
A site that hasn’t been designed specifically with your audience and user experience in mind, could be costing you money – outsmart your competition, don’t outspend them.
If your website isn’t functioning as your hardest working employee, constantly attracting high-quality leads, then you’re missing a trick.
Building a site using the Growth Driven Design (GDD) methodology boosts leads, conversions and revenue providing you with month-on-month growth and return on investment through data-driven results.
This new methodology was created by Luke Summerfield, a HubSpot Partner Agency Manager, who went through the struggles of traditional website design for himself. When working at agencies and businesses in the past doing web design, Luke noticed that the entire process was broken; deliverables were late, budgets ran over and the site was never touched again until the big redesign a few years later.
Luke wanted to change the way designers, developers and marketers approached web design. Here we pick up on his observations and break down exactly what’s fundamentally wrong with the traditional web design process and set the stage for a better process to follow.
You’ll find everything you need to know about GDD, how it works and how it could benefit your business and we’ve also pulled together an e-book of Luke’s methodology that you can download.
We urge you to invest the time in reading this book, take notes and start to think about a smarter way to approach web design. We’re happy to clarify any points for you or to explain how GDD can apply to your new website or redesign.
Why the Traditional Web Design Process is Broken
Traditional web design still has a place for certain projects, but for most businesses the old method is no longer fit for purpose. The ‘set it and forget it’ mentality is on its way out.
Launching a company website, sitting back and not touching it for several years, then undergoing a full redesign has been commonplace. But here’s the thing; if you haven’t regularly analysed and adapted your current site since it launched, your number one marketing asset has effectively been on a long sabbatical and is ignoring your calls.
The last thing you want is your number one sales person sat with their feet up.
What the web design industry has come to accept as the standard way we approach building and maintaining a website, Luke describes as a method ‘riddled with systemic risk that’s costing your business time, money and opportunity’.
And here’s why:
- Large Up-Front Cost: The average small to medium-sized business (SMB) website typically costs anywhere between £3,000 – £50,000, a substantial up-front cost for most businesses. Not only is this hard to budget for all at once, but it is also paid before even knowing what impact the website will have on your business.
- Considerable Time & Resource Commitment: The average website typically takes 3-6 months to complete and requires a great deal of resources and energy from your team. That investment in time – with no business results to show from it until after it launches – is difficult to stomach and it’s understandable why the task often gets put on the backburner.
- Over Budget, Not on Time and Not Flexible: Even if the budget and time is approved, there are so many moving parts, people and steps involved in a large project, it’s extremely difficult to accurately quote the cost and determine how long a project this large will take.
- Subjective Designs and No Guarantee It Will Improve Performance: Don’t be held accountable by your boss for a measurable increase in results from your website redesign that has had to rely on too many assumptions.
- Website Remains Static: After launch, a website typically sits with no major updates for 1.5 to 2 years. There may be some small tweaks or improvements, along with adding blogs or landing pages to the site, but the core and vast majority of the pages remain untouched, stagnating in the background.
There is a better way, a new approach to web design that holds tremendous potential for you and your business. It’s time to take a step back, challenge the assumptions of the traditional web design process and impress your boss with a site that remains streaks ahead of the competition.
What is Growth Driven Design?
Growth-Driven Design is a smarter approach to web design. It’s a retainer-based web design methodology that produces better results through data-backed planning and continuous improvement, rather than launching a full-scale site entirely on assumption. The enhanced flexibility, means that your web design project is shaped to fit your business goals.
Split into three stages; strategy, launchpad and continuous improvement, the GDD process involves ongoing planning and constant evaluation of your site to ensure month-on-month growth:
- It starts with a strategy phase; outlining what your audience needs to solve their challenges.
- From this we build a launchpad site; for optimum performance in short timescales.
- Based on the launchpad site data, the final stage is continuous improvement; using data to adapt, improve and grow.
Benefits of Growth-Driven Design
website design with obvious benefits for your business:
- Quick time to launch: Indecision can be crippling and delays can cost you dear. We will launch with all your business-critical functions implemented as your foundation on which to build – making quick decisions, testing and changing if our assumptions were wrong. As we roll out additional pages, your launchpad website is already working for you and collecting data.
- No more guess work: Begin collecting customer data about your new website from the outset and let that data inform your next design move. You’ll be able to analyse how visitors are interacting with the site, where they are converting and which elements of the basic launchpad site are working well and where improvements need to be made in future development sprints.
- Clear return on investment: By analysing your website in this way you can demonstrate ROI like never before by tracking visitors from the point they enter the site through to becoming customers. This is perfect for marketeers that need to prove their value to the business.
- Continual optimisations: Unlike traditional web design, your site is never finished, instead you’re set on a plan of regular refinements, based on the data collected from the launchpad website and your business goals.
- In expert hands, but you’re in control: Plan out the direction of the website with an agency like Pixel Lab and adapt based on collected data or your business priorities as and when they change. This is in sharp contrast to being locked into a fixed project plan with a more inflexible website.
- Stay on top of the competition: Benefit from the latest trends and innovations and see your website grow in line with your business, so that it consistently reflects your true value to the consumer. By comparison competitors using traditional web design will have to wait until their next expensive redesign to play catch up and by then you’ve already moved onto the next big thing. The result: you’re framed as an industry leader in the eyes of your users.
- Inform marketing & sales strategies: By analysing user data you’re able to feedback valuable insights into customer behaviour in real-time to your marketing and sales teams. It works both ways – not only can your website inform your strategy, but any insights you gain from other campaigns can also be applied to the website.
- Foster collaboration: This exchange of learnings can really help to facilitate collaboration between departments and lend itself to a better relationship with your agency too.
How does Growth Driven Design Work?
We’ve learned that Growth-Driven Design is all about designing with your customers’ needs in mind- not your businesses. It’s no longer about whether you like the design but more about how your prospective customers are going to feel when they land on your page.
Launching your site quickly and within budget whilst constantly making impactful changes to your site is at the heart of the methodology and here’s how it works, step by step.
Step 1 – Strategy Stage
The strategy stage is pivotal to the success of your website redesign. This part of the process may seem time-consuming, but it is crucial and one of the most important aspects of Growth-Driven Design.
Think of it like this, ‘Would you build a house without any architectural plans?’
No, you probably wouldn’t make such an investment without a blueprint. So, why wouldn’t you treat your website the same way?
The strategy stage involves diving into your audience’s world, seeing your business through their eyes and understanding what they want to see. You’ll also set your goals for the upcoming project and list priorities for maximum impact.
There are seven core parts to the strategy stage:
Step 1 – Goals
What are the high-level metrics you want to boost this year? Which of these metrics can be impacted by leveraging the website? Besides marketing, what other departments can use the website to meet their goals?
Step 2 – Customer Personas
Building personas is a way to gain and maintain an empathetic view of the user’s world. These are semi-fictional characters (based on real data and research) that include key elements about them, like their struggles and goals.
Step 3 – Jobs to be Done (JTBD) framework
Applying the Jobs to be Done (JTBD) framework is to understand exactly what your users come to your site for and what they need it to do for them.
Step 4 – Fundamental Assumptions
At this stage we document your business model from a customer-centric perspective; by focusing on the users’ problem rather than your solution, you gain insights that allow you to start marketing where the customer is.
Step 5 – Journey Mapping
Now that we’ve documented the business from the user’s perspective, it’s time to synthesise all of your thoughts and ideas into the user journey of your new website.
Step 6 – Website-Specific Strategy
We start by auditing your existing site to set benchmarks for the launchpad website. At this stage we involve other department stakeholders and agree on user flows and web architecture.
Step 7 – Wishlist Brainstorming
The final step in strategy is to arrive at an initial wishlist agreeable to all stakeholders that supports the goals of the project ongoing. Priorities will be set for the first round of continuous improvements once the launchpad site is live.
Step 2 – Launchpad Website
Traditionally you may think of the launch of your website as the finish of your redesign project. In Growth-Driven Design it is the complete opposite.
A launchpad site is not a final product, but a foundation that will be continuously evolving. It is not to be confused with a beta or test site; visitors will not be able to tell the difference between a launchpad site and a traditional site. This is because both are still fully-designed and fully developed.
The purpose is to avoid getting stuck on over analysis, features or content at this stage; we boil it down to the essential 20% that will make an impact and launch quickly so we can continue to learn about your users and improve the site.
In the wishlist phase you will have compiled a long list of all the action items you’d ideally want on the site. Now it is time to start sorting and prioritising these items to determine which make it onto the launchpad website. Pixel Lab can help you to identify the 20 percent of items that will produce 80 percent of the impact and value for your website’s users. It’s essential to narrow down to these core action items to ensure a quick launch.
Now we can run these crucial items through the standard website implementation process, including:
• Messaging & Content
• User Experience (UX) & Site Architecture
• Inbound Marketing Strategy Alignment
• Quality Assurance and Testing
The last step of the launchpad website is to set up qualitative and quantitative data collection around your goals defined in the strategy phase and your fundamental assumptions.
The launchpad website is live and now it’s time to kick start on-going cycles of improvement and work through the long wishlist of impactful items. It’s important to remember that this list should be agile and regularly updated.
Every cycle starts with and revolves around the personas who are coming to your website – each action item should provide value to them and if it doesn’t then take a step back and re-evaluate what you’re working on.
Cycle Step 1 – Plan
The first step of the Growth-Driven Design cycle is planning. At this step we will be identifying the most impactful items at the current moment and planning to implement the top ones into the current cycle.
There are a number of steps to go through in the planning phase:
Performance vs. Goals: Review the current performance of the website and contrast that to the goals you’re trying to achieve. This will inform us of where there is opportunity to improve.
Additional Data or Research: Coming out of the last cycle and while reviewing your performance vs. goals, there is often additional data and research we may need to do in order to help clarify what action items we should add to your wishlist.
Learning from Marketing & Sales: Connect with the marketing and sales teams and see what key items they learned about the user since your last cycle.
This information can hold “golden nuggets” of insight that we can transfer to your action items within the Growth-Driven Design programme.
Brainstorm and Prioritise Wishlist: Based on all of the new data, research and learnings we’ve had up to this point, we will now have another brainstorming session to determine any new action items to add to the wishlist.
The first bucket of wishlist activities are those that are directly related to conversion rate optimisation.
Improve User Experience
Improvements to the website that give the user a better experience and make it easier for them to navigate, find what they are looking for and solve their problem(s).
Personalise to the User
Adapting the site, calls-to-action, content offers, etc. to the specific visitor based on the data we know about them. This includes, but is not limited to, tailoring based on interests, persona, device, geolocation, referral source or previous actions on your site.
Build Marketing Assets
Marketing assets are items that hold great value for your marketing programme such as email lists, social accounts, your blog, etc. Build new marketing assets into the website such as tools, in-depth resource sections, online training, directories, etc. – any item that will provide great value to both the end user and your school.
General Website Updates
Of course, there are going to be general website updates that come up from time to time and can be added to your wishlist as well.
Prioritise Your Wishlist
Once you have all the new items added to the wishlist, you will then prioritise all the action items based on the (High/ Medium/Low) impact they will have on the goals of the website and value to the user.
Plan sprint cycle: With an updated and prioritised wishlist, you can then pick the most impactful action items that you want us to implement in this cycle.
Cycle Step 2 – Develop
Moving into the develop phase of the cycle, we now have the most impactful action items to work on and it’s time to start implementing them on the site.
This is where everyone gets together to start completing each action item that we’ve selected in the planning phase.
Each action item that we implement should be considered an experiment to see the impact it has on the performance of the website. To measure our experiments we must setup validation tracking around the metrics outlined on the action item.
Cycle Step 3 – Learn
After our experiments have had enough time to run and collect data, we can then move to the learn phase. In the learning phase we are going to review what information collected about your website visitors.
Based on the information collected, we can then validate or disprove our fundamental assumptions. Did our change have the impact expected and why did or didn’t it? Based on the results, what did this teach us about your visitor? What did we learn about them that you didn’t know before?
Cycle Step 4 – Transfer
The last step in the cycle is to now transfer any impactful information we’ve learned in our cycle to other parts of your business.
We’ll take time to review what we’ve learned from each completed action item and brainstorm how this may be usual for others and to find any patterns about your users.
Growth-Driven Design is the gold standard for website redesigns that bring measurable business value. The companies adopting the methodology are finding huge success in the flexibility it affords and the results delivered.
According to HubSpot, ‘In a 2017 survey of more than 350 agencies worldwide, it was reported that when companies invest in continuous improvement using Growth-Driven Design, they see 14% more visitors, 16.9% more leads, and a whopping 11.2% more revenue from their website six months after launch.’
GDD is by nature a nimble process that allows you to change strategy and direction based on real data. Guided by this insight your website remains relevant as changes are made dictated by your audience or by consumer behaviour as a whole.
There is no guesswork when it comes to growth driven design. Every single step is analysed in granular detail to ensure maximum return on investment.
How we can Help Businesses Like Yours
Convinced your business could benefit from Growth-Driven Design? If you’re interested to learn more or would like some advice regarding your site, don’t hesitate to contact us today. We will happily complete a website audit for you to see where you could make improvements. Often there are small changes you can make that can result in big differences to your online presence and success.