Website design can be tricky. Your website is the center of your business hub and is the digital storefront. It’s the first place people look when they hear about you and it’s the first place they look when considering applying for a job. Your website is – or should be – your biggest marketing asset and even your best salesperson by guiding buyers through the majority of their sales journey before they even reach out to contact you.
If you’ve ever shopped around for a custom website, you’ve probably gotten a little bit of sticker shock. Many companies charge a premium for a highly custom site on a proprietary platform (that they’ve built and own so they can lock you in and charge you more). This can cause many headaches.
First of all, that website might cost you $30,000 and you may be required to have that same company do any or all updates beyond simple content changes. If that company ever changes their proprietary platform and you don’t upgrade to their new version, they can stop supporting your website altogether. This means you can’t do anything to update it nor can you pick it up and take it somewhere else. That money is down the drain and you have to start over with a whole new website. Because of these reasons, most websites have a shelf life. The business model from the website agency tends to rely heavily on project (one- time) work and charges an arm and a leg for it.
There has to be a better way, right? We’ve had people call us with every one of the scenarios described above and it’s made us pursue a concept called “growth driven” website design. This concept was first coined by HubSpot and has gained quite a bit of traction with marketing professionals and small business owners across the world. Growth driven design focuses on data and user analysis to launch or redesign a website, with the intent of making changes based on ongoing learning about visitors’ needs and how leads are converting.
Risks that you’ve probably already encountered with traditional website design, (as outlined by Luke Summerfield in “An Introduction to Growth Driven Design”) are:
- Large upfront cost
- Large time and resource commitment
- Usually over budget and not on time
- Subjective designs and no guarantee it will improve performance
In this ebook, Summerfield asks the question, “After all of the time, money and resources you’ve put into your website redesign, how do you (or the agency you’ve hired) know that what you’re finally launching is the best possible performing website?” You can’t. It’s impossible
What the customer needs is a process that avoids all of the risks we outlined in the traditional web design process and produces a peak performing website; A web design process that is quick, agile and produces better results and ROI. That process is called growth-driven design.
image via HubSpot
Traditional website design is outdated and does not serve the customer well. As the internet constantly evolves, if your website isn’t also continuously evolving, you’re apt to be left behind your competition. One very specific example is the surge in mobile search over the last couple of years. More searches happen on mobile now than desktop. If the last time you updated your site, desktop was more important than mobile, you have some updating to do.
image via HubSpot
Summerfield’s three pillars of growth-driven website design are to minimize risk, continuously learn and improve, and then use that feedback to make your site better serve your customers. Let’s take that a step further with some specific solutions we’ve found successful for our clients.
Strategies for Better Website Design
- Minimize risk associated with traditional website design. Launch your website as a springboard rather than a “set it and forget it” site that won’t change for several years. Choose a platform that is flexible that you can own. Right now, WordPress is the best platform we’ve seen. (Consumer-oriented sites like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly are great to launch a quick and easy site with drag and drop methods, but rank really poorly for customization and search engine optimization). With a platform like WordPress, your web designer can create a really great website with nearly limitless customization options and integrations, including highly robust SEO. What is WordPress? It’s a content management system (CMS) that allows you to edit and alter the appearance of your website, without having to use code. Also, it’s scalable. You can add features, functionality, integrations, and plugins at any time.
- Continuously learn and improve. Using monthly checks over 11 months, take note of manageable pieces that can be incorporated that will make the site more intuitive. You can track real-time results with HotJar software (link), which creates heat maps that visually represent mouse activity, so you can see what people are actually engaging with and what they’re just skipping over.
- As you learn, inform marketing and sales and vice versa. A website can be a living, breathing part of your business that will work for you if you let it. This also makes the workload manageable rather than a huge drawn out process of perfecting every single thing before launch.
WordPress is used by 60.3% of all of the websites whose content management system we know. This is 30.2% of all websites.
The growth driven website design concept requires close integration with sales and marketing. What is learned about visitors (where they click, how they interact with your site, where they tend to leave your site, etc.) is then incorporated into the components of the website through calls to action, landing pages, content shifts, etc. that will make the website perform better for you. Continuous improvements are the name of this game.
So, now what? Here are the four steps to get you started on a growth driven design cycle.
How to Implement Growth Driven Website Design
- Plan based on what you know about your ideal customers and their questions.
- Develop. Create the base of what you’ve determined to be the highest priorities, knowing that you can grow upon what you’ve built. Incorporate data metrics so that you can keep an eye on conversions and what your customers are responding to.
- Learn what’s working. Notice that a certain page is getting the majority of the hits? Or that rather than filling out the Request an Appointment form, people are calling you instead?
- Transfer. Take what you’ve learned and incorporated into your website. Make small, incremental changes like landing page optimization, word choice changes, CTA buttons, and premium content placement. You can also experiment with these things and see if one thing works better than another.
The growth driven design concept is one that changes your online storefront from a clickable brochure into an intelligent, experience-guiding way to convert your visitors into customers. If you are looking to learn more about how a growth-driven website design can work for your company or take the next steps toward redesigning your website, see how Ampersand can bring a smart approach to your website.
Interested in other ways to improve your website design or overall online presence? Check out our other blog posts:
- Short Term vs Long Term Digital Strategies for Success
- Five Reasons Why Your Website Isn’t Generating New Leads
- How Your Business Should Gather and Use Customer Data For Marketing