Traditional Website Design Is Broken. GDD can fix it.
Here is Everything You Need to Know About Growth Driven Design.
There's the situation:
You need a website that runs faster and ranks better than your competitors.
You want it built fast, but website design and development takes time.
Website redesign requires a major investment in developers, designers, and marketing strategists.
Rebuilding a site takes risk—the site has to work once you go live,
or else you’re back to square one.
What if we told you this doesn’t have to be the case?
Building a stellar website can be done quickly, at incremental expense, and with minimal risk of having to scrap everything only to start over?
Welcome to Growth Driven Design: a paradigm for site development that’s proven to work better than the traditional mode of website design.
- What is Growth Driven Design?
- Traditional Website Design vs. GDD
- How to Set (and Reach) Site Goals
- The Importance of Strategy
- Conducting UX Research
- Creating Buyer Personas
- Drafting a User Journey Map
- Building Better Launch Pads
- Agile Website Design
- Continuous Improvement over Time
- Launch Sooner, Learn Sooner
- Final Thoughts
Introduction - Building Better Websites
There’s no faster way to mess up a website than by aiming for perfection.
Believe it or not, today’s highest website conversion rates don’t happen because their designers were fixated on launching a perfect site right off the bat. They happen because the best website designers know that aiming for better always beats aiming for perfect.
Aiming for perfect is the reason why you keep pushing your launch date farther and farther away from when you planned it. Aiming for perfect is the reason why potential customers fail to convert on your site. Aiming for perfect is the reason why you’ll never reach perfect.
If this sounds like confusing advice, don’t panic. We’ve put together this guide to let you in on the secret to capturing more leads, landing more conversions, and achieving faster business growth through Growth Driven Design.
To put an end to all the fears and frustrations you have about website development, read on.
What is Growth Driven Design?
Growth Driven Design (GDD) is a new and improved approach to website development. It shifts focus away from building perfect sites, and instead prioritises building better sites and improving them in a continuous cycle.
GDD has three clear demands: a Strategy, a Launch Pad, and a cycle of Continuous Improvement. We'll tackle each of these three components as we proceed along the article.
In broad terms, however, Growth Driven Design can be summed up in one word: iteration.
GDD is an iterative philosophy. It hinges on the premise that your business needs a website up and running sooner rather than later. Likewise, it embraces the fact that website development can be a continuing process: just because you've launched doesn't mean you ought to wait another two years to upgrade.
Traditional Website Design vs GDD
To better understand why Growth Driven Design is the future, it pays to take a closer look at the past.
Traditional website design is a clunky process.
Teams would start by pooling their opinions and impressions of their existing site, and come up with a subjective consensus as to where it should go next. From there, the project slows to a crawl as developers work to implement desired changes, pass them back to design and management, then make edits as they go along.
If you’ve ever had to handle website development, then you know how easy it is to fall into the cyclical trap of edit - critique - edit again. As the decision makers involved struggle to reach their own version of perfection, the website stands still.
Then, after everyone’s satisfied (or too frustrated to continue, as is often the case), the revamped site launches… only to make a minimal impact as far as key metrics are concerned.
Growth Driven Design disrupts this system by shaking the core attitudes involved.
How to Set (and Reach) Site Goals
Ultimately, the point of Growth Driven Design is to help businesses grow by reaching and up-scaling their target goals. Continuous improvement is an exercise in growth and scaling that depends on businesses having a clear idea of their metrics and KPIs.
The first step towards goal-setting is to identify the metrics that align with the outcomes that you want for your website. There are plenty of metrics relating to websites that you should be monitoring, and most of them correspond to an action or event that you want to influence.
If you want your website to serve as a tool for positioning your brand as a top option within your industry, for example, then you might consider focusing on raising your pages per session (i.e. how much information your visitors care to consume before exiting your site).
After identifying a set of metrics you want to improve (i.e. business goals you want to reach through your website), the next step is to set a target for improvement based on your current numbers.
We recommend aiming for percent improvements rather than setting the peg at an arbitrary number. Aim for an X% increase in average session duration, for example, instead of an average 20-second increase.
Growth Driven Design is an exercise in sustainability, meaning you shouldn’t be afraid to set an ambitious, long term goal and work backwards from there. If you’d like to see a 150% increase in conversions over the next 12 months, break it apart by-quarter and aim for smaller, more manageable improvements over that amount of time.
The Importance of Strategy
For this section, we’ll be covering strategy: the first of three primary features of Growth Driven Design.
Ask any professional, and they’ll tell you they work using strategies. It’d be unfair to say that traditional web design doesn’t incorporate some strategy--there’s still an effort to identify problems and create solutions.
Strategy in GDD is a more comprehensive affair. It involves a greater deal of certainty, deeper insight into your target audiences, and a more deliberate approach when designing things like calls to action.
Conducting UX Research
User experience (UX) is a critical component of website design. It refers to how your website flows, vis-à-vis the needs and expectations of your user base.
A site with good UX gets the following right:
- It loads quickly,
- It keeps your user interested through the use of creative elements like media and interactive sections,
- It answers your users’ questions in an orderly manner, and
- It encourages your users to follow a set of calls to action, leading up to a conversion.
In traditional site design, much of UX design is left to guesswork. Your team has an idea of what your visitors want and need, and so they try to satisfy those demands using their own wits and creativity.
Growth Driven Design takes a smarter approach, seeking a fact-based understanding of your visitors’ needs using one or more of the different UX research methods. You could run a poll or survey, run statistical tests on your site analytics, and even track the on-site behaviour of your existing users to spot patterns in their behavior.
The insights you generate from conducting UX research will give you a clearer picture of how your site could better serve your visitors and increase website conversion rates.
Creating Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are fictional representations of the different kinds of people you see using your product or service. They’re in-depth examinations of your customers’ problems, needs, values, and situations (e.g. financial capacity).
They’re a popular marketing tool that helps in business growth by allowing teams to sort and analyse their target demographics. They’re a useful part of strategy in website development, since they encourage you to take a more empathetic look through the eyes of your various users.
When creating a buyer persona, you’d start by identifying clusters among your existing customer base.
Company X, a home cleaning service, is looking to revamp their website. While creating buyer personas, they identified that 34% of their customers are single, upper-middle class men in their early to mid-30’s. This inspired them to create the “Mr. Business-First” persona.
Once you’ve narrowed down the features of your top 3 largest market segments, identify the problems and values they might have that would lead them to invest in the solutions you’re offering.
The team at Company X creates a survey to run on their site. They’ve found that people who fit the Mr. Business-First persona take pride in having a neat and organised living space, but are too busy to do any cleaning themselves.
After settling on your personas’ problems and values, you’ll be in a much better position to evaluate your website’s current design and make improvements for future versions.
Using the insights they generated by creating buyer personas, Company X decided to include more images of successful men enjoying clean living spaces on their webpages.
The result? A significant increase in sales on their ecommerce portals.
Drafting a User Journey Map
A user journey map (or customer journey map) is a plan for guiding your site visitors from landing to conversion. It merges what you learn from UX research and buyer persona generation to come up with a step-by-step flow for convincing site visitors to make a purchase decision.
In planning a user journey map, it’s important to think in terms of stages. Different sources will have
Awareness Stage -- reaching more people with news about your solution, making a strong first impression, and encouraging them to learn more.
Familiarity Stage -- getting new visitors acquainted with your business and the solutions you offer.
Consideration Stage -- positioning your solution as the best option for your site visitors.
Decision Stage -- preparing your site visitors to make a purchase, and making that purchase process as easy as possible.
Refining a user journey map for the awareness stage involves analysing your website’s main entry points (i.e. the first page your visitors see), as well as your strategies for SEO, social media, and other modes of acquisition.
For the purposes of website design, however, you’ll probably spend more time optimising your on-page SEO and making a strong impression for new users.
To optimise for users at the familiarity stage, it pays to focus on actions taken immediately upon landing. Here, you’d want to measure page dwell time and how many users click through the pages of your site to find more information.
At the consideration stage, a well-mapped user journey would see more visitors engaging with your calls to action. Check how your metrics look in terms of lead magnet conversions, or the volume of your inquiries.
Finally, user journey mapping for the decision stage is a question of expediency: how quick and easy is it to make a purchase decision (meaning either a sale or a call with a sales representative) through your site?
As you draft your user journey map, keep an eye out for the key indicator of how well you’re doing at each step of the way: your drop-off rate. Get a clear idea of where your users exit your planned journey for a sense of where to shift your focus.
Building Better Launch Pads
The second primary feature of Growth Driven Design is its concept of the Launch Pad.
Where traditional web design would assign huge value to a launch date (i.e. when the new, “perfected” version of a site rolls out), GDD treats the launch of a new version as a stepping stone.
A Launch Pad is a revamped version of your site that looks and performs better than what you had at first--yet isn’t your final product. It’s the next best step you and your team could take in a limited amount of time, and the first of many such steps towards greater website conversion rates.
The implicit priority here is speed: every improvement to your site, no matter how small, makes an impact on your business growth. It’s not a matter of lowering your expectations, but increasing your drive to do better by your end users.
Agile Website Design
Sustaining a Launch Pad mentality leaves no room for slow and rigid website development practices. You need to be agile to pull it off.
Agile website design is about starting small and snowballing into larger, more significant changes over time. It reduces the operational strain on your teams by setting more manageable expectations for launch.
The heart and soul of agile web development is the design sprint: a workflow that uses short deadlines, low demands, and high intensity to produce notably better websites in a shorter time, and at a lower cost.
With the right strategy and a handful of sprints, GDD practitioners can have their Launch Pads up in a matter of 60-90 days--significantly faster than the usual three to six month completion time of traditional website design.
By maintaining agility all throughout the lifetime of your website, you position your brand as dynamic and responsive--always prepared to address the shifting needs of your market.
Continuous Improvement over Time
The third core feature of Growth Driven Design is its unerring dedication to continuous improvement over time.
Traditional web design offers businesses and developers little choice: you either take a break after the launch of your dramatically “improved” site, or risk burning out. The nature of the traditional paradigm makes it borderline unreasonable to expect a team to carry on with monitoring a site after the painstaking process of launching it to begin with.
Likewise, if you’re sure you’ve fixed everything with the latest launch, what incentive do you have to keep an eye out for more upgrades?
The faster completion times, lower costs, and more focused scope of Growth Driven Design makes it easier and more desirable to aim for continuous improvement.
Launch Sooner, Learn Sooner
Perhaps the greatest selling point of Growth Driven Design is the opportunity it affords to collect data and spot room for improvement at a much faster rate. By launching sooner, your team is in a position to monitor how users interact with your site, and strategise ways to make your next meaningful improvement.
You can enjoy higher website conversion rates sooner, and watch as your new design philosophy increases your site’s value at a steady rate over time. Naturally, this means your business growth rises along with it.
Set and forget is a mentality that stunts growth by leading businesses to believe that business growth is about large steps. In reality, smaller and more iterative efforts are the sustainable way of going about expansion.
We highly encourage more businesses to consider an agile and iterative approach to website design as a tool for growth. As far as execution goes, it’s a foregone conclusion that your best option for maintaining your digital presence is a GDD-focused partner.
Luckily, most HubSpot agencies are ahead of the trend, and have a proven track record for creative website development that increases in returns over time.
The traditional mode has proven itself unsustainable, and failed to meet expectations for cost-efficiency. This means that Growth Driven Design isn’t the design paradigm of the future; it’s the paradigm for any business that sees itself having a future.
Want to find out more about GDD and how it can improve your websites results?
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Driven by creativity and numbers, Joe has a unique ability to provide creative services that not only look good but also achieve sales growth for clients. Partnering with business owners and Marketing Managers for the last 27 years’, Joe has been on a quest to test, measure and learn to create constant and never-ending improvement.