With the ever-changing and sometimes unpredictable nature of online marketing, the need for a non-static design strategy is more important than ever. Growth-driven design (GDD) is a methodology that implements and refines the appearance of a website overtime based on information obtained from user tracking and analytics. This allows marketing teams to create websites that are optimized for the target audience and goals of a given company, thus substantially improving conversions. According to a 2017 report, agencies that use Growth-Driven Design see 16.9% more leads and a 14% increase in traffic after 6 months of launch.
Here is a checklist of the 3 phases of Growth-driven design.
Phase 1: Strategy
Strategy is the process of auditing a website to take stock in what’s working and what’s not. It is also the process of gaining an intimate understanding of a company and setting realistic goals to help that company best achieve its vision. This phase involves the following steps:
- Research: User experience research is a fundamental building block to website design and involves user testing, surveys, and interviews. While research is a part of all web design best practices, GDD takes it a step farther by continuing this process over time to measure whether website updates and improvements are working.
- Set SMART Goals: Smart goals, or Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals valuable tools for understanding what a company wants to accomplish. Before the groundwork for a web project is laid out, it is paramount that a company’s needs are clear and attainable so that their marketing tools can be built out in the most effective way possible.
- Build Buyer Personas and Journeys: Buyer Personas and Journeys are hypothetical scenarios involving a company’s target audience and how they might interact with their website to achieve a goal. Taking the time to build these helps create an empathetic understanding of target audiences and how they fit into the profitability of the company.
- Identify Fundamental Assumptions: Fundamental assumptions are the core components of a business and website from which a foundation of understanding can be built. These help build insight into what problems users are currently attempting to solve while identifying the riskiest concepts and validating them through research and testing.
- Create a List of Priorities: Before diving too deep into web design and development, have your company sit down and create a wishlist of the most important features you would like your new site to have and why they are important. For this step, use the 80/20 rule to help pare down your wishlist to the essentials. What’s the 20% of features that will produce 80% of the impact for your target audience?
Phase 2: Launchpad Site
A “launch pad” site is fully-functional website based on user research and data. This is not a final product, but rather a solid foundation from which further improvements can be made as user data is collected and analyzed over time.
- Prioritize: Not all pages are of equal value and focusing on what is most important will improve the efficiency of development. Using the previous version of the website as an example, create a list of most-useful pages based on the popularity of previous pages. Focus on top-of-funnel pages that build traffic and land conversions.
- Start with Content: A common mistake in web design is to build content gradually during the web development process. Having a working content document as early as possible will enable your team to prioritize pages and design with intent. Effective content does not have to be new content. Recycle from the previous version of the website when possible.
- Invest in a User-Friendly CMS: Web development is one of the most time-consuming parts of marketing and can oftentimes serve as a bottleneck for production. Using a user-friendly CMS, such as Hubspot, will enable more team members to collaborate on updating content and pages, thus decreasing the dependency on developers for web-related tasks.
- Avoid Scope Creep: Scope creep refers to continuous or uncontrolled growth in a project's scope. This is a common cause for delays in website launch dates as more demands and expectations are stacked on top of the original scope of the project. Prevent this by establishing clear boundaries and communicating proactively with shareholders and team members.
Phase 3: Continuous Improvement
A truly effective website is one that’s not just built correctly the first time, but that’s continuously refined and improved. Phase 3 is, therefore, the longest and arguably the most important part of Growth Driven Design. By working through this process and making evidence-based improvements, you can create a final product that is polished and optimized for conversions.
- Plan: Start with a focus metric that you would like to improve and brainstorm ways to best achieve your goal. Involve as many members of your team in this process to leverage synergy to and find the best path moving forward. When you decide on which items to build, frame your expected results in the form of a hypothesis that can be later tested.
- Build: Build out the items that have been decided upon during the planning stage. Always build these items out in a sandbox environment before pushing live and ensure that they are polished.
- Learn: Gather data on the new components that you have built by tracking user analytics and performing user tests. Use this data to either support or refute your hypothesis from the planning stage.
- Transfer: Share your findings with your team and leverage cross-department collaboration to help you better understand how to make adjustments for peak performance. Take note of what you learn and use that as a foundation for the next round of improvement.
Growth-Driven Design is a dynamic form of web development that involves building a launchpad website based off of data and efficiency, then gradually improving and polishing that website over time. This method has been shown to be both more effective and more affordable than traditional website design and is a valuable tool to have in the arsenal of any web development company.