Thanks for showing an interest in this guide.
Trust me when I say I’m really confident it’s going to open your eyes to a better way to approach your next website redesign project.
My name’s Will, and I’m the Director at Authentic Style. Over the past eight years, running my web design agency, me and my team have built hundreds of websites (ecommerce and brochure sites) for all different kinds of businesses, all over the world. But over the last two years, we’ve actually felt like the traditional web design process is fundamentally broken.
The process that we’ve come to accept as the norm is actually lengthy, has lots of imperfections, and can also have huge potential for delays – all of which cost your business time and money.
Earlier this year, at Authentic Style, we embarked upon a new approach that we feel is a ‘breath of fresh air’.
It enables us to launch brand new, custom designed websites in a fraction of the time. And the best bit? The websites that we build, following this approach, are much more effective.
So, I hope writing this short guide will open your eyes to a smarter approach to website design. An approach that avoids disasters, delays and stress and produces waaaay better results for your business.
It’s an approach called Growth-Driven Design (GDD) and I’d like to share it with you.
FOUNDER / DIRECTOR
You don’t need me to tell you that your website is your biggest marketing asset and it really should be the centrepiece to all your marketing activities.
It’s the first place someone goes when looking for more information about your products or services. They use your website to find answers to their questions and it’s your website that convinces them to buy or pick up the phone.
Think back to your last website redesign project. What was it like? How would you describe the overall experience?
Chances are you didn’t enjoy the process and you had to spend a lot of your own time and energy getting involved.
It’s clear that there should be a process that allows you to launch a great looking website quickly, so that it can collect data on how your visitors/customers are using it and then be tweaked and adjusted to really hone its effectiveness…
Well, there is such an approach. We use it, and it’s called Growth-Driven Design.
The graph below shows a visual representation of the Growth-Driven approach (green) being a more steady approach, showing continual improvement. Whilst the traditional approach (red) shows the more stop/start nature of approaching website redesigns the traditional way every 2 years.
Much like the traditional approach the GDD approach’s first stage is – Strategy. This allows us to develop a rock-solid foundation for your project based on:
What are we trying to achieve with your website? Where would you like to get to with this redesign?
Next up we help you develop detailed customer persona profiles for each of the different groups of people visiting your website.
This persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer(s). Getting this clear in everyone’s minds (yours and our teams) is critical as everything about your website redesign should focus around your user(s).
Existing website audit
So much can be learnt from your existing website if you have one. Never start a website redesign without having someone perform an audit of your current website to determine what’s working and what isn’t.
If at all possible you can learn a lot by reaching out to three or four existing clients to collect their thoughts about your business and your existing website. What could you offer to make the decision to pick your business easier? What content would help make their lives easier?
From what we’ve learnt in those steps above, we can now make some assumptions about your users. These might be:
Global page strategy
The last stage is to evaluate a page-by-page strategy for each major page on your new website. We think about how each page can engage and influence the user to take action in line with your overall goals.
Now we move onto creating a wishlist together.
Taking what we’ve learnt in the strategy phase we can together brainstorm a wishlist of features and innovative ideas that you might like to see implemented on your new site. This list could be anywhere from 20 – 100 things.
This wishlist will form the foundations of your launch-pad website and also the ongoing Growth-Driven Design cycles of your project.
This is where we begin working on your “launch-pad” website – called such because it’s going to be continually evolving based on what we learn from how your visitors are using it.
You want to get clear in your mind that this website might not be 100% perfect, and that’s okay. It will still be much better than what you’ve currently got as it will be custom designed and extremely well thought out – it just won’t take 3 or 4 months to get live.
This launch-pad site gives you a starting point to improve from.
So what steps does it take to get your launch-pad site up?
80/20 your wishlist
80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, so we’ll go through your wishlist with you and start prioritising.
During this stage it’s really important to ask yourself whether this is “a must have” or a “nice to have”, and then, with what you have left at that point, ask yourself “is this absolutely necessary for the launch-pad website, or could we build it into the site in month one, two or three, once we have more data from the new website?”.
Narrowing down these items is essential to cut down the time it takes to launch the new website.
Once you’ve got your wishlist narrowed down we can create a hypothesis statement around each item.
This statement allows us to get clear on how each item relates back to our overall goals, the personas we’re focusing on and expected impact.
Here’s an example:
“For [Rebecca] visiting the [product pages], we believe changing [related products] to be [products you might like] will add personalisation and [increase upsells by 10%].
We believe this is true because [evidence from the strategy stage here].”
When you’ve created all your hypothesis statements rank each one based on:
The actual website design implementation
Once we’ve identified the most critical action items to include in your launch-pad website, we can then go ahead and run these through the usual web design process you would expect to see.
The implementation process typically looks like this:
Data collection is key so that we can learn from the metrics associated with your site once people start visiting it.
Data can be collected around:
So now that your launch-pad website is live, it’s all about continuous improvement.
The best way for this to happen is through “cycles”, and each cycle should revolve around the personas coming to your website. It’s got to be clear that every change you make in each GDD cycle has a clear benefit to your persona(s).
So the first cycle step is to plan. You need to identify the most impactful items at the current moment. A number of steps go into the planning phase.
Generally speaking your action items are going to fall into these buckets:
These items all relate to optimising the effectiveness of your website’s conversion rate. Simply speaking, that’s boosting the amount of visitors your website converts into customers / clients / leads.
These are improvements to the overall user experience of your website. If you can make your site easier to navigate and find the information visitors are looking for to solve their problems, it will be more successful.
If an individual visitor to your site can feel like the whole experience is personal to them, then there’s a higher chance they’ll convert. This could mean personalising based on their location, their interests (think back to your personas), or perhaps other products they’ve showed an interest in before.
Building marketing assets
This is often overlooked, but if you can build marketing assets on your website, you can then use them for social media updates, in your email marketing and more. These assets could be blog posts, an in-depth resource section on your site, developing some online training – basically any item that will provide immense value to the end user.
Once you’ve got a good list of action items on your wishlist, we go through and rank them high / medium / low impact on the goals of the website and of value to your user.
Here we pick the most impactful action item(s) that you want to implement in this cycle.
This is where we generally pick anywhere from one to four or five items, depending on the complexity of implementation and the client’s budget.
This is where the actual work happens and the changes get implemented. It’s fundamental that we set up tracking and metrics tools on your site prior to this so the impact of the work can be measured.
Once everything’s been implemented you could even consider developing a marketing campaign designed to drive more traffic to your website (or just a particular section of your site) as the more visitors you get the more data you’ll have to analyse.
Once your experiments have collected enough data, we can then review it and validate or disprove the hypothesis statement(s) we created earlier.
What did we learn about your visitors that you didn’t know before? We’d recommend feeding this information back to your entire team so they can become better informed too.
Can you transfer what you’ve learnt into other parts of your business? Are there any patterns coming to the fore about your users?
This then completes one Growth-Driven Design cycle. Congratulations!
Once you’ve done this, go back to the beginning and complete another cycle. The more you can complete, the more effective your website is going to be.
The businesses who are willing to adopt this approach are seeing huge results from their websites.
When you realise how important your website is to your business, it makes complete sense to be continually refining it and improving it based on how your visitors are using it. And, when you think about the costs of doing working this way, compared to shelling out another large sum of money in 1.5 to 2 years time to redesign your site again, it’s a sound investment in the success of your business.
So our parting words….
Don’t fall into that trap of redesigning your website, leaving it alone and then realising it’s ineffective and needing to redesign it again in 1.5 to 2 years time. Instead, work with a company who following this Growth-Driven approach and you’ll see far better results.
If you’d like to learn more or have questions about this Growth-Driven Design approach to web design projects, please don’t hesitate to contact Will our Founder on 01747 852298.