Traditional web design is dead.
Long live growth-driven design!
Well not dead exactly, but definitely evolving.
Maybe it’s time to rethink how we approach web design for clients. The traditional well used process may vary from agency to agency, but the fundamentals are the same.
The website planning initial discovery stages of creating a brief and setting out requirements leads to wireframing, design, development, content loading, and then bang! The magic switch is pressed and the site goes live. It’s a final product which is created and launched. Then more often than not it’s forgotten about for a few years. Job done, project off the list.
When you think about it, this common process is heavily flawed. The set design, architecture, functionality and content is all worked on based on what the client and agency discuss and agree to. Both parties work to a deadline and the product is built. Only then do the most important people, the USERS, get to actually access the site.
Surely the website users need to be put at the heart of the whole process right from the start, and provide valuable insights, metrics and feedback into everything so that the site can evolve and continuously improve to meet their needs?
Growth-driven design does exactly this.
It creates better results by leveraging actual audience driven data and reducing frustrations involved in traditional design methodologies.
It’s not about getting a website finished and out the door by a set date. It’s about heavily researching and strategising at the start, and getting a ‘launch pad’ website live as soon as possible.
A launch pad site is a ‘quickly’ built website that looks and performs better than what you currently have, but is NOT by any means a final product. Instead, it is a foundation on which to build from.
It still needs to have key elements considered such as the CMS at the heart of the site, keywords and SEO etc.
Then once this site is live, you measure, analyse and assess how the site is working, and continually adapt, optimise and change the website to meet with the users needs.
Traditional website design is risky – you can run over budget, miss deadlines, and have large upfront costs. The design and potential success is based on opinions and not usually actual data. So there is no way of knowing how successful it’s going to be.
The traditional web design model is totally broken.
Growth-Driven Design is the new gold standard for delivering results and bringing measurable business value to clients through web design.Gabe Wahhab, Square2Marketing
Let’s look at the process in more depth. There are 3 key stages to growth-driven design.
Develop an empathetic understanding of your audience’s world and how the website can solve problems along their journey.
The whole concept of inbound marketing is about being human. You need to empathise with the audience.
Through this initial strategy you should be looking at the following:
- Fundamental assumptions about site users (what their needs and goals are).
- Where are your buyers’ are in their journey.
- Wish list of ideas.
The Launch Pad
Quickly build a website that looks and performs better than what you have today, but is not a final product. Rather, your Launch Pad is the foundation on which to build and optimize from.
Another common term for a launch pad site is an MVP, or minimum viable product.
The whole focus of this stage should be to get a new site live, quicker and at a lower cost. It may not have all the bells and whistles your long term vision of the site might have. But you’ll have time to properly work on those during the next phase.
The sooner you get your launchpad site live, the sooner you can start to collect real data and feedback. This allows you to plan for your continuous improvement phases.
With a launch pad site live and collecting user data, you can start identifying the high-impact actions you can take to grow your business.
Plan. Build. Learn.
High performing websites are not built overnight. They are a result of continuous data-driven decisions and optimizations. Traditional website processes will struggle to reach the level of performance of a growth driven design website. Mainly because the continual optimisation, testing and refinement is how you achieve a high level of performance.
This phase often involves an agile approach, working in sprints, where the whole team is working together and involved in creating the additional functionality/features in a highly focused and speedy way over a short time period.
These improvements aren’t stabs in the dark to see if something works, they are planned by looking at data and assessing pain points from your launch pad site.
Each stage of the process is structured so that the user is at the center of the process, and you are making decisions about your website based on actual data and testing.
With the digital world being a crowded marketplace, the slightest pain point or blocker on a website can cause visitors to go elsewhere in a very short space of time. So by optimising you can reduce the friction and make the user experience a delightful one.
There are a wide range of tools available to help you monitor and analyse your website, for example Google Analytics and Hot Jar. The latter is great as it creates actual screen recordings of users on your website. This provides invaluable actionable insights which are key to the success and continuous improvement of your website.
With traditional web design, decisions are often made subjectively either through an agency’s knowledge and expertise, or through the clients own thoughts and feelings.
Agile vs waterfall methodologies – which is best for growth driven design?
Let’s look in more depth at the actual workflow involved in developing a website in the traditional way compared to growth driven design.
With the more traditional approach, we have wants referred to as the waterfall methodology. Think of the project as various stages all falling down the same path in a single direction to reach a fixed destination. It flows in one direction only, is linear and sequential.
So you need to do research which leads to wireframing and UX design, the to the UI design, then development and testing. The end game is the launching of the site.
With this approach the clients input into the process is at fixed stages, and ironically the most important stage of testing the developed site comes right at the end. Feedback at this stage can cause some elements to take a few steps back before the site is finished, perhaps needing to be redesigned or rebuilt. The result is delays and overrunning of budget.
Scope changes cause problems with this workflow, and amends can delay the whole project.
By comparison, the agile methodology is iterative, incremental and adaptable, making it ideal for growth driven design.
It is a continuous cycle of development and testing, with the client getting involved throughout the process. So rather than waiting for the whole thing to be finished, different areas of the site are designed developed and tested at different stages, making changes easier to implement.
Think of it as lots of little projects all together. One plus side is the client can see things working during the process, whereas with the waterfall approach they have to wait till almost the end.
In summary, growth driven design is a perfect match for an agile approach when it comes to project management.
But not all projects are a good fit for growth driven design. Smaller projects tend to be better suited to a waterfall approach, for example 4 or 5 pages sites where functionality is limited.
Growth driven design conclusion
Regardless of the approach, it’s important to remember , just because you as the business owner don’t like something, doesn’t mean your target market/customers won’t like it.
Whether it’s website or marketing content, it’s not about you, it’s about them! And you must do what ultimately makes their journey and experience hassle free. This results in a successful website.
Growth driven design encourages you to look at your website in a completely different way. It’s not just something you need to get done, so you launch and forget about it.
Your website is your hardest working sales and marketing team. It works 24 hours a day, it brings you new leads and can reengage old ones. It can be your first impression and bring in big business.
So invest in it – not just financially, but with time and emotion. Think about the users and what they want and need, not what you think they should be doing. Empathise and be human. React to data and feedback, and continuously improve it.