So you're a business or agency owner agonizing over web design. Or maybe you aren't agonizing, but you very clearly remember agonizing during the long process of having a well-made site created for you and your business. In either case, you're here now, and you're going to learn that, yes, there is a better way.
Better web design is a growth-driven design. Before we get into that, let's take a moment to talk about why the traditional approach is broken.
Traditional Web Design is Broken
The biggest headaches for web design are well-known annoyances in the world of business, but let's talk about why.
One of the biggest contributing factors is cost. Even for smaller businesses, the creation of a website can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $80,000, which is a massive investment to make upfront. This is money being paid before the website is even complete, which means that everyone involved is going to be putting in a lot of time and energy during the setup period, which can be three months or longer.
Due to the complexities inherent in this process, a lot of websites often end up delayed or over-budgeted. Even in those situations where everyone toiled away as hard as they could for half a year, there's no guarantee that the website will be successful to generate sales once it's finally released to the public.
Good design is subjective, so whether or not it works isn't something that can be predicted before the actual launch. For an investment that involves a large amount of labor and tens of thousands of dollars, is this the kind of risk that is worth to be taking?
The answer, of course, is no.
Last but not least, a website that sits in stagnation, untouched for years, will harm your business' reputation. So unless the website is updated at least semi-regularly (the industry standard is every year and a half to two years, but even this is a long amount of time), your website is going to fall behind modern design trends that are taking the Internet by storm, resulting in you and your product looking outdated and undesirable.
This probably doesn’t sound appealing to you in the slightest. How, then, do you improve the web design process?
If you've been paying attention, you know the answer: growth-driven design.
So What Is Growth-Driven Design?
Growth-driven design can be defined by the following three goals:
- To minimize the risk associated with traditional web design. All those risks mentioned above are what you want to avoid, right? That's the main goal of growth-driven design, and a part of that is done through shortening the launch process and staying on board after the initial launch process.
- To continuously learn and improve. A website should be just as open to change as the rest of the Internet is. Taking user feedback and assessing performance numbers means that the website can always be improved in terms of features and usability.
- To inform and improve marketing and sales. Websites are some of the biggest drivers of sales in this modern economy, so of course knowledge needs to be passed on to marketing and sales. Your website's performance should tie into how you approach these matters.
The growth-driven web design process keeps these goals in mind. There are two main phases in this process that have their own cycles within.
Phase 1: Initial Launch
This is the phase where you decide what you want your website to do. First, you start by establishing performance goals—you want these goals to be proportionate to the time, money, and effort being put into this web design project. Don't underestimate or over-shoot.
Next, you want to create "personas"—that is, profiles for the different types of customers who may be visiting your site. You can use these personas to inform the design process of your website.
After your strategy planning, you can develop your wish list. You and your team should sit down together and come up with all kinds of ideas on how to improve the site. Forget about how the money, time, and skill factors in here—just focus on creating a large list, preferably fifty wishes or higher, for things you'd like to do with your website. You can't do all of these things at once, and not all of them can come to fruition exactly as planned, but setting these now will help you with moving forward.
Launch Pad Website
Now, it's time to launch your site. In the normal web design process, this is the end and both parties walk away. In the growth-driven process, this is where you create a "Launch Pad website". This is merely the first step in a longer development process, but it will benefit from getting out there sooner and being continuously updated over time.
Phase 2: Monthly Cycle
Now it's time to go back to the planning stage. After a certain period of time from launch, it's time to assess your performance versus your goals. This will tell you where you can improve. In addition, you can start learning and researching with your marketing/sales team to inform the design process as it moves forward.
The wish list factors in here as well—this is where you separate it into three sections: high, medium and low, based on the impact they'll have on the site and its users.
Now, it's back to development. Act on the steps made in your planning phase and pay a close mind to how these steps effect your website's performance. You may also want to do a marketing campaign via social media and blogging to drive traffic for data collection.
Once you've collected enough data from your development phase, you can finally start learning from what you've gained. Find out what actions had an effect and whether or not those actions had their desired effects. If not, were the effects better or worse than intended?
This is where your website really gets what it needs in order to improve. Be sure to publish your findings in a manner that everyone in the organization can assess the same information that you did.
Now, the next step is to transfer the information you've learned from the development cycle and apply it in other parts of your business. Once you've done that, it's time to start all over again—rinse and repeat, once a month, for eleven months. By the end of that process, you should have a pretty great website.