Since the early years of the World Wide Web, firms have benefited from developing an online presence. Although web standards have changed since early web pages offered businesses an eCommerce presence and marketing opportunities, many firms continue to embrace traditional web design as a method of managing the customer experience and handling inbound marketing.
To meet the needs and expectations of today’s consumers, the traditional web design approach requires substantial upfront costs, significant development time, and may have low ROI for the efforts required. Today’s web differs from earlier iterations, and clinging to traditional web design approaches seems stagnant and intransigent.
A better approach involves the transition to Growth-Driven Design (GDD). Rather than reinventing the web in a major revision, GDD focuses on a cycle that makes improvements in increments based on an analysis of data. Instead of striving for unattainable perfection, the goal is to make systematic, iterative changes based on analyzing traffic patterns and audience reactions in a process that involves a continuous, ongoing review.
Defining Growth-Driven Design
GDD is agile rather than overwhelming, tweaking based on data rather than reinventing from scratch. The goal is to determine realistic goals, launch them, assess the results, and make the necessary revisions. Continuous website improvements are easier to implement and more affordable than discarding what exists and completely rebuilding or revamping it.
This process acknowledges that the website should meet customers’ changing needs and expectations. This approach permits businesses to make updates to reach targeted audiences without unnecessary delay. With GDD, the focus is not to schedule massive updates to purge stale content every few years but to improve performance in stages as a way of responding more quickly.
Understanding The Phases of GDD
Most GDD approaches include four distinct phases:
Planning: This is where marketing approaches and goals are considered as plans for the future website are discussed. How will the website aesthetically appear, and what is it important for it to do? Are present assumptions valid? Even if they are, do they meet future goals? Consider the intended audience, set realistic goals, and review design concepts that build connections with customers.
Developing: At this point, enhancements are made to the present site, or a new page or site is added as a “launchpad” with only the core features and the most significant updates. The launchpad approach may be tested internally before going live and provide an opportunity to collect and analyze feedback before and after it becomes publicly available.
Learning: Both in-house and externally, this is the phase where data analysis and a detailed review of metrics occur to learn, tweak, and experiment in other ways that may have an impact. Are functionality and features working correctly? Do they attract the attention expected? What changes should occur, and how should they be prioritized?
Transferring: After reviewing data, information is shared across the organization, from marketing professionals and the leadership team to others involved in various aspects of the business. Additional research occurs. At this point, the site may be live or may be getting the final revisions before going live.
This approach corresponds with lean marketing principles used by some companies. Rather than engage in an expensive rebuilding process, take the least amount of resources to create a web presence that positively impacts present and future customers. The goal is to analyze, learn the things that work quickly, and remove things that are ineffective or inefficient.
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Evaluating after the Website Launch
With traditional web design and layout, the website launch was a monumental event, like the dedication of a digital edifice. Rather than demolishing and rebuilding that website infrastructure, GDD recognizes that the business, its customers, and the market continuously evolve and that tasks usually take new shapes rather than come to an absolute end.
When the website launch occurs, important assessments take place:
Comparing Goals and Performance: GDD involves reassessing the goals after determining the overall performance of the live product. Rather than checking off a goal as being completed and then moving forward, consider reworking the goal to meet new objectives or take things to a different level.
Performing Additional Research: Think of GDD as an ever-evolving process that requires new research to ensure that the goals selected during the planning stage remain the most relevant ones in the near future. This research informs the marketing and web design teams of possible changes that will make even more impact or improve upon the progress already made.
Considering Marketing and Sales Data: Learn what’s in demand in your company and throughout the landscape of the larger industry. Assess not only which particular products or services fail to meet expectations but also try to determine why.
Traditional web design practices involve building it and hoping it will come. Growth-driven design tracks attendance, sales, and interest as customers digitally visit the field of dreams to see if it is worth returning to as a place to spend more time and money.
Remembering User Experience is Vital
A top priority of GDD is to improve the user experience (UX). A goal in the process from initial design to revisions is to consider how users view the platform, how they progress through any necessary steps (such as placing items in a cart or checking out after making selections), and learn any frustrations or troubles they may encounter.
Assessing UX requires research. The GDD and marketing teams have questions, and the answers they obtain will inform them of steps to improve the user experience. Possible approaches include the following:
Qualitative Research: Using surveys, interviews, and other instruments to determine why visitors to a website act in a particular way.
Observational Research: Reviewing heatmaps to learn where users moved, scrolled, and clicked on a page allows for an analysis of red-hot regions and cooler areas.
Quantitative Research: A detailed evaluation of website analytics offers a perspective on what website visitors seek, what they do when they find it, and how they move forward.
Considering the importance of UX happens long before a launchpad website goes live:
Develop a Strategy: Know the intended audience, goals to attract them, and how they interact once they arrive, and consider how already-existing research may improve the initial design and their experience.
Build the Launchpad: Test assumptions internally so many internal parties may critically evaluate their user experiences and consider their constituencies.
Learn at Each Stage: Data collected during the launchpad phase is essential, but assessment continues long after the site goes live and is published.
Reevaluate: Beyond learning what works and what needs improvement, the GDD process allows for tweaks and smaller changes to see if they have a more significant impact. As goals change, reevaluation becomes even more critical.
Evaluating Web Analytics and Metrics
Evaluation is ongoing throughout the GDD process. Key metrics allow team members to make wise choices when considering how to move forward. The metrics to evaluate should be familiar to those in the marketing world. Obvious statistics to review include the overall site traffic, bounce rates, the amount of time a visitor remains on the website, the number of deals successfully closed, and conversion rates.
In reviewing the data, team members must remember that situations caused by outside parties may influence some statistics. An obvious example is slow loading time for web pages due to internet connections or performance by service providers.
At the end of the day, increasing the conversion rate is a top goal. There are well-established ways that GDD improves the conversation rate when compared to the earlier website design approach. Analysis informs, allowing data to suggest decisions that will drive growth.
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