Do you remember dating before modern technology? For most of us, it looked like spending a lot more time in bars and bookstores, sitting through a few awkward dinners, and, if we were desperate – even taking grandma up on that offer to meet her neighbors’ son.
Well, much like “old school dating,” the traditional web design model can be less than effective in yielding the best results.
Your website is your number ONE sales tool. Yet, according to HubSpot, most websites go stagnant, sitting with no major updates for roughly one and a half to two years after launch. When companies are ready to “jump back in,” the traditional website process is costly, time-consuming, and doesn’t necessarily guarantee a great ROI once you’ve relaunched.
The Undeniable Benefits of Growth-Driven Design
Enter growth-driven design.
Growth-driven design is an agile-minded approach to website design, aimed at minimizing risks and maximizing results.
Think of it as the dating app of website design. It’s a systematic approach to launching a new website in an agile way, while maximizing website performance based on real user data.
Growth-driven design is based on three pillars:
1. Minimizing risks associated with traditional web design
2. Continuous learning and improvement
3. Then, as you learn, keeping marketing and sales informed
Growth-driven design minimizes the risks of traditional web design by shortening time to launch, reducing upfront cost, and ensuring better results by focusing on real impact and continuous improvement over time.
Breaking Down the Process into Three Phases
Growth-driven design is structured into three phases. Phase one focuses on strategy and analysis. Phase two is the website build out. Phase three is all about results and agility, focusing on constantly building and improving your site based on data-driven results.
Phase 1: Strategy
Like any other website project, you should begin with strategy. In growth-driven design, strategy is broken down into four parts: Goals, buyer personas, auditing, wish lists, and prioritizing. Most marketers will be familiar with the first three, but let’s put them in context.
Phase 1 – Step 1: Goals (Looking for love)
Before you start a profile on any dating (or social) app, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Love? Just Friends? Networking? The same concept applies to launching a new website.
Defining your intentions and setting some realistic and measureable goals will be important as you move into planning for launch and post-launch analysis.
Phase 1 – Step 2: Buyer Personas (My perfect match)
So, you’ve decided that you’re ready for love. Next step is to visualize your dream girl/guy – your “perfect match.” Most marketers call this defining your buyer personas.
But don’t stop at chiseled abs and a great smile. Buyer personas should really dig deep into both the demographics and psychographics of your ideal client. Have a clear understanding of who you need to target, as well as how and where your buyer personas are going online to solve their problems.
Phase 1 – Step 3: Qualitative & Quantitative Audit (Does this pic make my butt look big?)
Now it’s time for some self-reflection. What do you have to offer to this dream guy or girl? It’s important you have a clear understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats so you’re best positioned to make marketing and sales decisions that will move you closer to your goals. There are two fundamental types of data you should explore during this part of the process:
Qualitative (Ask an ex or your friends)
Qualitative data is data that can’t be measured numerically. In buyer persona research, this typically consists of client interviews, analyzing the competitor landscape, and peeling back the layers of your own content to see if it’s aligned with the needs of your ideal customers.
It’s comparable to asking your ex what went wrong (and right) in your relationship. Or having your friends give you feedback on your best characteristics and maybe a few things that you need to work on. As we grow and evolve as brands, our digital presence should match that.
Quantitative (Check the data)
Quantitative is the cold hard facts. In your personal life, you might look across your social media profiles to see what photos and posts got the most likes. When we talk websites, you’ll be measuring page views, page clicks, most downloaded assets, etc.
Phase 1 – Step 4: Wish List (Tall, dark, and handsome)
Now that you understand your buyer personas and your best offerings, it’s time to create a wish list. Here’s the catch: This wish list isn’t about your dream guy or girl (we already did that, remember?). This wish list is for your website.
For this part of the process, you should collect your internal team and have a planning session. Ask yourself, “If money wasn’t an issue, what would I want my site to look like?” Identify key pages, assets, and resources. Explore different features and functionalities that you’d like to have. Design and user experience elements are also important considerations.
Phase 1 – Step 5: 80/20 (Athletic, great cook, doesn’t live with mom)
Now that you’ve got your master list, it’s time to consolidate. The 80/20 exercise forces you to prioritize which items from your master list will end up on the launch pad site.
During this meeting, your team will work to identify the 20 percent of the wish list that has 80 percent of the impact on its users. Then, further consolidate by weeding out anything that isn’t a must have.
But, don’t worry. You aren’t hitting “delete” on the other 80 percent. You’re simply deciding what is the bare minimum required to get a new, improved site up and running.
Phase 2: Create Your Launch Pad Website (Build your dating profile)
One of the unique differentiators and primary benefits of the growth-driven design process is the reduced time for launch. In growth-driven design, teams work to stand up a new site in about two to three months (versus three to six months in the traditional web design process). But, this isn’t your final product. It’s just the bare bones to get you started.
The goal of the Launch Pad website is to quickly build a website that looks and performs better than what you have today but is not your final product. Your Launch Pad is the foundation from which you collect real-user date and optimize. - GrowthDrivenDesign.com
Now, let’s loop this back to dating. Think of the launch pad as building your profile. You take all your strategy learnings, select your top five photos and write a 120-word bio that briefly highlights the things that are most important for your perfect match to know (80/20) about you.
Then you hit “launch” (or, create a profile) and start swiping.
Phase 3: Working through the Growth-Driven Design Cycle (Super likes and Better Dates)
The final phase of growth-driven design is what makes it so drastically different from the traditional web design process – continuous iteration and improvement based on data. Remember, the launch pad was just a starter-site. And just as you shouldn’t let your perfect matches sit idle in your app, you can’t take a hands-off approach to your website after launch.
We make a lot of educated guesses in the initial stages of developing a new website. In this phase, it’s important that we’re keeping an eye on the data so we can validate and or improve upon our assumptions. The growth-driven design cycle is based on a hierarchy that helps to prioritize which wish list/action items are most important to tackle now that you’re live.
Cycling through the Hierarchy
The hierarchy helps to prioritize action by focusing on foundational elements first, then shifts focus into general site improvements, and finally growth and expansion. There are seven steps that help you fine-tune your website (here’s a great resource it if gets confusing).
4. Conversion rate optimization
For each step of the hierarchy, your team should set measurable goals and hyper-focus your efforts on achieving those goals by following the growth-driven design cycle.
The Cycle for Each Step in the Hierarchy
This entire cycle is broken down into four steps:
1. Plan – In this step, you’re pulling out your wish list and revisiting that 80/20 exercise. Identify what is going to be the most impactful right now for your personas. Take into consideration the initial goals that you’ve set and whether you’re on track to meet them. Then, decide what items you’re going to implement during this cycle.
2. Build – Pretty straightforward, right? This is when you write, design, program, and implement the updates that you decided on for the cycle.
3. Learn – Now you watch the numbers. Measure performance against goals, and look for new trends that might be emerging. Let the data dictate the decisions made in the next cycle.
4. Transfer – Lastly, share that information between teams. We’ve talked before about the importance of aligning sales and marketing, and that means sharing learnings with each other so that both teams are best positioned for success.
Once you’ve reached the end of the cycle, repeat it. Continue to cycle through iterative improvements until you reach your goal for that step in the hierarchy – then move on to the next and begin again.
Growth-driven design is an agile-minded approach to website design, aimed at minimizing risks and maximizing results. You’re cutting upfront costs, shortening time to launch, and ensuring all your effort isn’t wasted as you work to continually build and improve on your website performance.
And while, you might not end up with a diamond ring at the end, you certainly are increasing the odds that more of your perfect matches (aka buyer personas) will be swiping right on you!
Ready to redesign your website? Our 10-Step Website Checklist is a great tool to help you navigate through the process and get you started on the right foot.