An alternative title for this blog could have been, Use Common Sense And Your Web Design Project Will Thrive, and my reasoning is this: when you start your website project no amount of research and brainstorming will create a bombproof blueprint for success. This is because of the Donald Rumsfeld effect. You know, the whole "there are things we know we don't know, there are things we don't know we don't know".
The problem is, we still create a website in the way we used to create its predecessor (sort of), the corporate brochure. We gather all the information, discuss it until we're bored with it, build it, publish it and hope it's OK. But unlike print and other media, websites should be living documents, adapting and changing based on data and feedback.
It's simply common sense; when using a marketing medium that can be adapted based on feedback and data, do just that - adapt it! The rest of this blog post expands on this idea.
Website Projects Are A Pain!Web design projects can be a nightmare and many fall flat on their faces. The thing is, failed web design projects hurt in lots of different ways. There's the cost of creating the site, there's the cost to your business of all the distraction leading up to the failure and most importantly, there's the cost of the business you are not winning because your new website isn't working. Enter Growth Driven Design or GDD.
Start As You Mean To Go OnWhat's your website for? What's it really for? If you answered "don't know" you wouldn't be alone because many businesses don't really know what their website's for, or more accurately they don't know what it does (or is supposed to do).
I'm always having conversations around this subject, it comes with the territory, and it's clear to me that many businesses are still really confused, so I'm going to spell it out. Your website should help you grow your business. It's a lead generation tool. (Speaking about lead generation tools, have you seen our handy lead generation calculator?)
Concentrate on the Hard StuffThe really hard part of creating a successful website is figuring out why you're building it. Even here people get confused and say things like "And when the person sees this page they will blah blah blah". What person? Who's going to see that page? This is putting the cart before the horse.
This is, in part, because getting the "why" right is hard. It forces you to look deep into your business, examining the reasons it exists and what your customers expect and want from it. Nevertheless, you have to start with this stuff to stand any chance of creating a web based lead generation machine.
When you're setting out to build or re-design a website figure out why people will visit it. Even better, figure out why they will even find it in the first place. Will they find it because it looks cool? Nope, they'll find it because you understood their needs and the problems they have that your business can solve. They'll find it because you created content that magically appeared before them in Google when they carried out a search looking for a solution to their problem.
Start With Why
By starting with why people visit your website you'll create something way more useful to your business than starting with the what-it-should-look-like stuff.
It's Buyer Personas StupidI'll be honest, being an engineer, i.e. practical, logical and a bit straight, I used to frown at the mention of buyer personas. It all sounded like the sort of clap-trap marketing types talk about and didn't seem to be relevant to getting the job done. But I was wrong. If you don't understand your customers what chance do you have of finding them? If you don't understand your customers what chance do you have of understanding their motivation for using your services? And, importantly, if you don't understand your customers what chance do you have of making sure they find you?
Don't Finish It Before It's Started
Going back to what I was saying earlier, a website should be a living document. Don't spend all the budget on the initial build, because no matter how good it is it won't be good enough and it won't be the site you need. The site you need can only be built by continuing to develop your understanding of what your customers need. The thing is, your phase 1 website will help you create a better phase 2 website and your phase 2 website... well, you get the drift I'm sure.
This is made possible because you can measure what's working.
To summarise, Growth Driven Design (GDD) is a way of building a website over time, that improves the site based on data and feedback. It creates the site your business needs, constantly adapting to do more of the things that generate leads and less of the stuff that doesn't.
It makes sure your website is a living document that's giving your customers what they need, building trust and encouraging engagement. It makes sure your website brings in business.