What You Need to Get Started with Growth-Driven Design
If you think your website could use a little work, but you dread the process of an overhaul, it's time you were introduced to growth-driven design. Whether you've never heard of it before, or you're not quite sure what it is, stick around. By the end of this post, you'll be ready to jump in with both feet.
What Is Growth-Driven Design
Before we jump in, let's take a look at what is currently wrong with the traditional method of website redesign:
- Very Costly. A complete overhaul is expensive, and it's not even guaranteed to cover everything you need as goals and consumer behaviors are constantly in flux.
- Slow and Time-Consuming. At best, a redesign might take around six months from conceptualizing to rollout, and all six of those months will be filled with intense activity.
- Stagnant. A redesigned website is simply delivered. There might be a short time after rolling out a new site to test areas and make corrections, but once it's done, it's done. You won't have the opportunity for big changes until the next redesign.
Growth-driven design is the consumer-focused antidote to traditional long, frustrating website overhaul projects. Rather than reassess your entire website once every couple years, and build an entirely new website based on this assessment, wouldn't it be better to take a step back and focus your attention on one customer-driven element at a time?
In a nutshell, this is the goal of growth-driven design. The process begins by thinking about the needs of your website visitors and quickly developing a functional, baseline website called a Launch Pad, and then using data to incrementally and continuously implement changes based on current activity.
Why Is it Important in Digital Marketing?
Aside from reducing feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed from digital marketers, growth-driven design uses continual learning to get better results from your website. Rather than trying to rely on thinking of everything during an overhaul, GDD uses feedback provided by the only people that really matter: your customers.
The result is a website that delivers more by being flexible and adaptable to the changing needs of your website visitors. An added bonus is the elimination of hulking projects that are over budget and way outside the original scope of time.
How to Get Started
Still not convinced that it will work for you? Take a look at the GDD process, step-by-step, to see how it all comes together.
- Perform a Website Audit. Carefully comb through your current website to discover which areas and specific pages are currently essential to your visitors, which areas are not doing well, how you are performing in search visibility, and other SEO elements.
- Set Goals. The only way to make use of data is to have goals to set it against. What do you want to achieve with your website? What specific, measurable results do you want to target?
- Develop Key Buyer Personas. If you do not already have Buyer Personas that you are targeting with your digital marketing efforts, now is the time to get that job done. Buyer Personas are an essential tool for planning any consumer-focused strategy, and a growth-driven website design is no different.
- Plan Conversion Paths. The key to getting this step right is to understand how people use your website and determine where you want them to go. These paths should be based on your goals and the individual paths informed by your Buyer Personas.
- Agree on Website Essentials. Using the information gathered from Steps 1 through 4, determine what the essentials are for your website. It's important here to not focus on trying to nail down every single detail — that's the old way of doing it! Instead, this must-have list should include the highest-functioning sections from your website audit and any features that will directly support your goals, conversion paths and consumer needs. That's it for now.
We'll take a break from the list for a minute because this is the point where some people get lost. Are we actually suggesting to launch a semi-incomplete website?! Yes — but with good reason. Once this website of essentials — or Launch Pad — is up and running, every improvement, addition and change from here on out is done incrementally and fueled by data. Each portion is taken one step at a time so you can devote your time and resources accordingly, and so that other factors do not influence the data you are gathering.
While rebuilding from the bottom up is the best way to implement growth-driven design, it is not a requirement. You can also use the concepts behind GDD to drive your website changes starting with the current build of your website. Because it is all about constant improvement and incremental change, building off of a currently successful website can be one way to avoid ever having to do a complete rebuild again.
Proceeding with the Future in Mind
The next steps are a rinse-and-repeat cycle of planning for changes based on wishlist items that were not essential and therefore didn't make it to the initial Launch Pad, and other features, pages, and processes that arise upon reviewing current activity or as you develop new goals. What's important to think about here is that this process is continuous, and thus eliminates the need for a future overhaul.
- Focus on one area of your website with a single correlating focus metric that is a direct measurement of whether you're reaching your goal.
- Complete the build of the new addition, or implement a change.
- Set up experiments to test the impact of the change.
- Gather the data to obtain feedback on the change and make adjustments as necessary.
As you make changes and additions to your website, you'll be gaining essential information about the behavior of your website visitors that everyone in your organization can use to improve interactions with customers and to improve other digital marketing initiatives. For example, if you discover that a form on your website is far more likely to be completed when only 3 fields of information are required rather than 6, you'll want to share this information with everyone who may be building forms for your customers and prospects.
Understanding the Impact
By making incremental changes to your website rather than launching a complete redesign, you are able to stay on top of the changing needs of your website visitors while also being able to implement new strategies and pursue new goals. The continuous nature of change is possible because you have not exhausted all your resources (and patience) on a massive overhaul, and the results of your changes are likely to be more successful because you are testing and measuring each one along the way.
The impact to your website visitors will be more positive, too, as they will not try to visit a familiar site only to be hit with an unfamiliar landscape. You will be able to present new features, pages and products from within a familiar structure so the experience is less jarring. Plus, because your website is constantly making small changes, it will appear more "alive," and less stagnant. Visitors will get the feeling that there are real people behind those pages, people who are interested and responsive to their needs, and that's always good for business.