Building Websites with Growth-Driven Design
by Kim Garmon Hummel, on Aug 14, 2019 12:00:00 AM
Let’s face facts: having an online presence for your business is an absolute must. Without a website, your opportunities to spread awareness and build your clientele base is seriously limited. When faced with designing a website, many immediately think of how time-consuming and frustrating the process can be - not to mention how costly it can be when done incorrectly. We’re here to tell you there is hope and a better way. Traditional website design is broken but Growth-Driven Design (GDD) is one of the ways you can #growsmarter!
We integrated GDD into our process because it drives optimal results using real user data and allows us to publish meaningful content much quicker. As a result, our clients’ content is being indexed and promoted by search engines instead of collecting dust behind an under-construction page. Traditional web design has a tendency to really drag on. In fact, in a survey of 3,500 companies that were undergoing a traditional website design, 54% claimed that their redesign would take over 6 months to complete. And within that group, almost 80% claimed that their website would take over a year to be completed! That’s just way too long in our book. To make it worse, it was found that only 49% of website redesign projects finished and launched on time.
The great news is that it doesn’t have to be that painful for companies anymore! With GDD we are able to start seeing results in a matter of a few months. Bonus: The real user data we gather isn’t just useful for sales and marketing - it can help improve the entire company as well!
Shifting the focus from being a direct sales and marketing tool to the real user data, your website becomes a force to be reckoned with and ends up producing more leads that result in closed sales. This smarter approach is all about creating a better experience for your customers - and everyone knows happy customers are the best kind! So, now that we’ve told you why we love it, here a bit about how it works:
Growth-Driven Design: Give me the Basics!
GDD has three parts: Strategy, LaunchPad, and Continuous Improvement. Each stage is vital; skipping one will hurt your web design - or redesign - process and cause your team to have to back-track. Don’t cut corners, you’ll thank us later.
The Strategy Stage
(This isn’t Star Wars, so we start at the beginning and not the middle.) The focus of this stage is to develop an empathetic and holistic understanding of your audience’s world. This means thinking about how your website can solve the problems your users experience along their customer journey. Ask yourself: what are my business goals and how do I want to accomplish these goals using my website? Understanding what your goals are will put you in the right mindset and on the right path for the next steps.
Now, think about your users and desired clientele. Focus on what is driving these individuals to your site. If they are researching your product or service, what problems are they trying to solve? Your focus is going to be on them through this whole process. Why? Because it’s all about them - It is about their experience no matter what. Your website is one of the first impressions people will get of your company and the experience you will provide them. If your clients don’t have a good experience with your site, they won’t spend time learning more about your products or services and they won’t spread the word about you. So, getting it right from the start is critical. If you don’t believe us, here’s some food for thought:
- Studies found that if content is not optimized for mobile or tablet, 79% of users will search for another website to complete their task
- 88% of users are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience.
- 48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in measuring the credibility of a business.
Now that you understand why that user experience really does impact your bottom line, you will want to start with building buyer personas. Create around three buyer personas that represent the ideal customer your company is targeting. Include demographic information such as age, gender, job title, company size - anything that is pertinent to how they view the world and how they will perceive messaging from you. Remember how you’re always told not to assume? Guess what? Throw that out the window because this part is all about making assumptions. At least fundamental ones. Here you need to uncover and list out some fundamental assumptions about your buyer personas. For example:
- The problems your customers face in completing their jobs efficiently and effectively.
- The solutions your company offers the customers to make better progress quickly.
- The situations that drive your buyers to look for alternative solutions.
- The unique value your business offers in comparison to your competitors.
- Existing alternatives (i.e. methods and companies the buyer could choose over your company).
- Any anxieties the person has in making the switch to your company.
- Any disruptive habits that may pull them back to old behaviors and away from success with your company.
Next, start outlining what is called the buyer’s journey. This is the path they follow or process they go through to accomplish the job. When you map this out, you will see where you and your company appear in each buyer persona’s journey. What’s the point? To figure out how to get you in there faster and make your company stand out among the rest! There are four major steps to a buyer’s journey:
Many users learn about you in the awareness and consideration stage of their journey. There are two goals here: 1. Figure out what aspects your users might be looking for in websites during those first two stages, and 2. Determine what you need to incorporate in your website to keep your company at the top of their decision list and, ultimately, keep them coming back for renewals during the delight stage.
Lastly, review your current website and plan what would need to change in order to accomplish your goal of being number one on their list. Brainstorm ways to improve each area and better align your site with your different personas. Also, brainstorm a wishlist of items to build later that will continue to add more value to your users.
Focusing on your users first and foremost will drive business for your company further in the long (and short) run. A study in 2017 found that using Growth-Driven Design actually helped the companies using the system see a 14% increase in visitors, an almost 17% increase in leads, and an 11% increase in revenue after the first 6 months of adopting the process and launching their website - SIX MONTHS PEOPLE!
The LaunchPad Stage
This is where the fun begins! Quickly build and launch your new website. Sounds easy enough right? The end goal of this stage: launch the base of your new website so that it can collect real user data to guide you in the enhancement and optimization of your website (aka, make it even better). At this point, however, you only have the buyer persona assumptions and raw data and research you’ve collected so far and that’s fine.
Use the data and research you gathered on your target personas to build out the high impact pages (i.e. home page, about us, contact us, any high performing pages, etc.) and look over your wishlist to see if you can build any of those aspects into the LaunchPad.
Pro-Tip for the LaunchPad: Don’t cut ANY content out of the site! Even if they are low impact pages your team will simply copy them over to the new site template until you have time to go back and optimize them. This will save you heartache in the long run with Search Engine Optimization because, as it turns out, Google really doesn’t like it when your content is no longer available...
You might be thinking: Team Sauce, if I launch a partially updated site the whole website will look incomplete and sloppy. To that, we say: Hey, you can trust us, we’ve done this countless of times and have seen tremendous success for each of our clients! In the next stage, you will build out more tools and features that will reflect what users want out of your website. At that point you’ll be using real-time user data, so you’ll have a better understanding of what your users are looking for and won’t waste a lot of time building things they don’t care about - such as unicorns pooping rainbows across your homepage...
The Continuous Improvement Stage
During this last stage, just like the name suggests, you continually improve your site during two to four-week periods called Sprint Cycles. The Continuous Improvement Stage is a repeatable, agile process for you to continuously collect real-user data, build high-impact items from that data and your wishlist, and build more internal momentum as you progress through each Sprint Cycle. Your website is an asset that drives company-wide growth and utilizing real-user data will accelerate that growth. Plus, we live in an ever-changing world and continuous learning allows your company to stay ahead of what your users are wanting and needing. You know how Facebook is constantly rolling out new features or apps to try to keep you on their site longer? Yeah, that’s because they are constantly in the continuous improvements stage.
So to understand these Sprint Cycles (don’t worry, there is no physical sprinting involved), know that each cycle consists of 4 steps:
- Planning: As the name suggests, you will take what you have learned during the LaunchPad Stage (or previous Sprint Cycle - if you’re repeating at this point) and plan out what your next steps will be. Determine the most impactful items for your team to build or optimize that will drive you towards your business goals.
- Building: This one is pretty obvious as well: build what you planned. Your goal is to gather the team together to implement the high-impact items as quickly as possible but still maintain quality work. Ensure your team is hyper-focused and working collaboratively to tackle these items. Additionally, build in experiments that you can run on your site. These experiments will allow you to track how things affect the user experience.
- Learning: Use the experimental elements in the build stage to learn about your users: like how users reacted to a prototype, if said prototype kept them on the site longer, if the prototype kept them on the site longer then did that user convert from a lead to a closed sale, and other takeaways you can use to improve your site. You are looking to gain a deeper understanding of your users so your decisions in the future are smarter and drive even more value.
- Transferring: Transfer new information about your users to all departments in order to find opportunities and better align your different teams to create a better user experience through the entire customer journey. Invest in a system that allows your team and other departments to maintain transparent, shared documentation.
Once you’ve completed your first Sprint Cycle, do it again, and again, and again (this is going to continue over the next few months). We say this because your website should never be “finished”, which is different from the thought process behind a traditional website. Technology, people, and buyer behaviors change over time; so adapt to survive. There will always be improvements that can be made so you keep going, but at this point, your website is doing what you need it to do: providing a great user experience that is converting strangers into advocates. Even though the cycle is always ongoing, these continuous improvements are normally a lot easier than the first few stages.
So, like we tell our clients here in Memphis, TN: grow smarter! By using Growth-Driven Design, your website will not only look and perform better than your original but it will also grow with your company and customers. Of course, if you need someone to do the heavy lifting for you (because not errrbody has time for it) then schedule a call with us and let’s talk about what your short and long term growth goals are.