How Growth-Driven Website Design Works [VIDEO]

Web Design | January 25th, 2021

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Contributor Phil Robinson. Partner, Founder + CE

What is growth-driven design?

One of the most effective website design these days is using growth-driven design.  Growth-driven design is an approach to website design and maintenance that succeeds in minimizing the risks of traditional web design. So is traditional web design broken?  We believe so.

The systematic approach of Growth-Driven Design shortens the time to launch by employing real data, and continuous learning and improvement.

In this article, we’ll explain how growth-driven design works, the various stages of the process, and what’s it like to work with us to build a website emphasizing growth-driven design.

How does Growth-Driven Design work?

The Growth-Driven Design methodology has three major stages: the strategy, the launch pad, and continuous improvement.

Strategy phase

The goal of the strategy phase is to develop an empathetic understanding of your audience. This helps us understand how the website can solve problems along their journey. Try to imagine the world from your audience’s perspective.

  • Who are they?
  • What challenges are they facing?
  • What are their goals?
  • And where does the website fit in as a part of that?

The strategy needs to take these questions and more into account in order to be effective. For us, this involves several steps to make sure that your website can be a success.

Growth-Driven-Website-Design-Strategy-Team-Collaboration

Steps of the strategy phase

There are several steps we’ll need to take to complete the strategy phase.

Overview

  1. Define the website goals. Start by reverse-engineering the overall business’ goals and identifying how the website will influence them. The website goals should be SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely — to help you properly measure the website’s impact on the business. Download our Smart Goals Template here for FREE
  2. Understand your audience. As part of this, we’ll need to do user experience, (or UX for short), research. The research may be qualitative, quantitative, observational, or a combination of all three. This will uncover user insights that guide you through the rest of the strategy stage.
  3. Jobs to Be Done. This framework will help us identify the underlying needs that drive your audience and what it takes for them to switch to your company’s products and services as a solution.

Refine your audience

  1. Refine your fundamental assumptions. This step involves boiling down what you already know about your market, your business, and your website. We’ll refine or create new user problem statements, unique value propositions, situational triggers, current user habits, switching anxieties, and more. Fundamental assumptions are at the core of the success of your users, business, and website.
  2. Develop buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. Use the deep understanding of your audience that you’ve gained to create these personas. Include their challenges, obstacles, and assumptions when possible.
  3. Forecast and map each persona’s journey. This should encompass what happens before, during, and after they interact with your business. By mapping your persona’s journey, you’ll have a direction for how to weave your website into your persona’s life and solve their problems along the way.

Website Goals

  1. Develop a website-specific strategy. It needs to include elements such as site architecture, on-site SEO, key sections and pages, integrations, technical requirements, and more.
  2. Brainstorm an initial wish list for your website. The wish list should contain creative and impactful website ideas that aim to solve your user’s challenges, provide value to the user, and help your business reach its goals. The website wish list could have anywhere between 20 and 200 different ideas. This may include site elements, sections, pages, specific features and modules, integrations, and more. We’ll let you know of the most popular options for people with similar website goals.
  3. Get ready to build! The next step is to actually build a Launchpad website, a simple website that you will improve over time.

The Launchpad

With a strong wish list of high-impact ideas, we’ll begin the second phase of the Growth-Driven Design methodology, which is the launchpad website.

The goal is to quickly build a website that looks and performs better than what you have today. Keep in mind that this version isn’t a final product. Rather, your launchpad is the foundation to build upon and optimize. The main driver for launching quickly and without sacrificing quality is to collect data from real users interacting with the site. Then, you’re equipped to make better, data-driven decisions on how to improve the website. Launching quickly also creates a quicker time-to-value versus the six or more months of a traditional web design project.

Growth-Driven-Website-Design-Launch-Graphic

How can you quickly build a launch pad in this stage of the methodology?

There are a few key areas you can focus on to accelerate the launch of a remarkable and effective website.

  1. Find a way to customize your approach to building the new website that maximizes acceleration while maintaining quality. There are a number of ways to make that happen. Each website is uniquely different and will require a mix of approaches to make sure it’s a well-performing launchpad. This is why it can be helpful to work with an experienced HubSpot partner agency like us to guide you on the best approach for your new launchpad.
  2. Running design sprints on high-impact pages and sections. A design sprint is a short, concentrated time period focused on solving a problem using brainstorming, design, prototyping, and testing.
    Design sprints help you use the team’s collective knowledge and generate the best possible ideas, but they also help you come to a high-quality prototype of your new website in record time.
  3. For anyone who’s built a website in the past, you may know that developing high-quality content — including text, images, and video — is one of the most challenging parts of a website build and often causes huge delays. Having an effective content development process and great content collaboration tools can accelerate your content production speed and increase the quality of the content you produce.
  4. Investing in internal efficiencies. Internal efficiencies include switching from a waterfall process to an agile or scrum process, building an internal library of pre-built templates, and where possible, removing developer dependencies. Doing this means that someone within the business, particularly an in-house marketer, can make updates on their own, leveraging collaboration tools, and more.

Once the strategy has been created and your launchpad website is live, the next step is the Continuous Improvement stage of the Growth-Driven Design methodology.

Continuous Improvement

The goal of the Continuous Improvement stage is to start identifying the high-impact actions you can take to grow your business based on real user data.

Once you’ve launched the website, it may be difficult to stay focused on improving the highest impact items at any given time. So we’ll follow a simple yet powerful agile process: plan, build, learn, and transfer. Let’s look at each step.

Growth-Driven-Website-Design-Improvement-Cycle-graphic

 

Planning

In the planning step of the cycle, we’ll define the most impactful items to build or optimize at that moment in time to drive toward your goals. This starts by determining an area of focus that your team can rally their improvement efforts around. Focus is key.

The challenge is, there are many areas you could work on: from messaging to layouts to building new pages to optimizing existing ones. The wide range of options can make it overwhelming and difficult to determine where to best focus your time.

To figure out where best to focus your time, it’s helpful to have a website performance roadmap. The performance roadmap is a framework for you and your team to ensure you’re spending time and energy on improving the most impactful areas.

The roadmap helps you set clear expectations on exactly what you should and should not be working on and why. And because there are specific metrics to measure for each focus area, you can easily measure and report on your progress building a peak-performing website.

Building

After planning out the website, the next step is to build it. We’ll create a website performance roadmap to track how your website is doing and what the next steps are.

What does a website performance roadmap look like?

There are three major themes: “establish,” “optimize,” and “expand.”

Establish

The establish theme revolves around the core foundational activities you can do when you’ve built something new. Within this theme, there are three focus areas.

  1. Focus on “harvesting low hanging fruit” or building high-impact items that are easy or quick to accomplish after launch.
  2. Building an audience to collect data and run experiments. Confirming the website is driving value to those users.
  3. The “optimize” theme revolves around improving the user experience and business performance of existing items on the site.
Optimise

The three focus areas under optimise include

  1. Improving usability on the site to ensure visitors can unlock value as quickly as possible. Doing conversion rate optimization, (or CRO), to reduce the friction and steps in your conversion funnels.
  2. Personalization, to provide a hyper-relevant experience for each user or user-segment to ensure they get the perfect experience for their needs.
  3. Building new items on the website to expand the impact the website has.
Expand

The three focus areas within the expand theme include;

  1. Building new digital products onto the website, such as tools, directories, digital resources, or interactive experiences.
  2. Expand into developing new items on the website to improve other areas of the customer journey map. Things such as a new customer experience, customer website, or advocate program are things to address here.
  3. Expand into using the website to help other teams achieve their goals and help the business grow. This could be building items on the website to help the sales team prospect, qualify, and close deals. There are many ways you can use the website as a tool to help the entire company grow.

The website performance roadmap is ordered to match the lifecycle of a particular website. After your launchpad is live, it’s time to focus on the Establishing and Optimizing steps. Over time we’ll progress to focusing on the expand step.

Is every website different?

Every website is different! It’s key that you let the performance metrics and experience guide the flow of your focus.

Each quarter, you should reassess how to divide your continuous improvement efforts between each focus area based on performance metrics. Once your quarterly focus area is set, it’s important not to shift. Shifting focus can create a lot of motion with little actual improvement.

Once you’ve determined your focus area, it’s time to complete user experience research, or UX research, to understand what challenges or friction points your website users are running into that’s preventing their progress.

Once there’s a good understanding of the challenges, your team will brainstorm all sorts of new action items to build. These items will drive user value while improving the performance metric in the current focus area. All ideas should relate to your team’s current focus area.

With a list of brilliant ideas, it’s now time to prioritize the list to identify the highest impact action items we can implement to boost performance in the focus area.

Based on your workload capacity, we’ll go down the list and select the high-impact action items until you run out of capacity. Anything you don’t get to will be reconsidered in the planning step of the next cycle.

Turning Ideas into Action

With those high-impact action items in hand for the current sprint, together we’ll write out action item cards with four key elements. One, an outline of the specific customer scenario in the form of a “job statement.” Two, a hypothesis statement about your proposed change and the impact it will have. Three, any research or data that will backup your hypothesis. And four, an experimental design for how you plan on testing the hypothesis.

Now that you have a focus and prioritized action items to implement, you can move to the second step in the continuous improvement cycle: Build. The goal of the build step is to host a working sprint with a cross-functional team to complete all the high-impact action items.

Just like a sports team, your team will swarm on the action items to collaboratively tackle them in an aggressive fashion. With these action items as their focus, they’ll sync schedules, meetings, and work times.

In addition to building the action items, the team also needs to set up the experiments as outlined in the experimental design in order to properly measure the impact the action item has and validate or invalidate the original hypothesis.

We’ll launch what we’ve built and let your audience interact with our experiments. After a period of time–which will be different for every experiment-we’ll then move on to the Learn step of the cycle.

Learn

In the Learning step, we can take a step back to review the experiments you’re running to extract learnings about your audience. Was your original hypothesis correct or did you prove it wrong? If it was proven wrong, this is okay and fairly common, especially when first starting out and trying bold ideas.

It’s critical to assess the outcomes to learn more about your audience. What did their actions and behaviors tell you about them? How could you incorporate these learnings into future action items?

This is such a critical step because the more you repeat the cycle, the more you learn about your audience. The more we learn about your audience, the more likely we’ll have success in providing value and hitting your goal metrics.

Learning is a continuous process in the growth-driven philosophy. There’s always more to learn and apply to make your website do even better!

Transfer

The final step of the continuous improvement cycle is the transfer step. The goal of the transfer step is to share your learnings and exchange ideas throughout the entire company to improve the entire business, not just one of the parts.

Between internal communications and meetings, this is where we’ll share your user learnings from the experiments you performed the previous step. Between us, we make recommendations based on the learnings of how we could improve. It’s important to be always asking questions of everyone involved, to pull insights and fill gaps in your user research.

You can also use this time for a consistent user experience during all interactions with your company.

This a cycle because we’ll continually repeat the steps, building momentum each time you repeat them. Generally, the cycle is repeated every two weeks. New action items will be built to impact the current focus for the quarter. Eventually, you learn and improve enough on that focus area and meet the metric goal that was set. Then you’ll move to a new theme or focus on the website performance roadmap to start the cycle again.

Recap of the four steps

The Growth-Driven Design methodology starts with planning and research in the strategy phase. After that comes the creation of a solid wish list. Then, the wish list is built into the launchpad website. In this phase, you’re building a website that looks and performs better than what you have today but is a starting point for your website success. Finally, you’ll start the continuous improvement phase with month-over-month improvement.

This process is a great alternative to the existing method of a launch, which is more often than not the “set-it and- forget-it” process in traditional web design. With an industry that’s evolving as quick as website design, it’s important to be on top of–or ahead of–the trends.

The future of web design is growth-driven

A growth-driven website will be continuously improving to help all aspects of the business grow and see results each month.

Of course, marketing and sales are layers that live on top of Growth-Driven Design. Think of Growth-Driven Design like a sports car. It’s cool, but you still need gas (marketing and sales) for that car to drive. To develop a peak-performing growth business, you need all three working together, as they’re all interconnected and working off each other.

All of the challenges associated with the broken traditional web design process can be solved with Growth-Driven Design. This is the future of web design and the playbook for building a peak-performing website

Hopefully, you’re feeling inspired to grow as a business, to grow out of the broken, traditional web design process and starting to understand the value of building a peak performing website using Growth-Driven Design.

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