How Does Growth-Driven Design Work?

By Madison Taylor
January 1, 2023
Hand writing on a dark desk

Web development provides unique challenges (read: headaches) to today’s modern marketing companies. Building a high-quality website can be laborious, time-intensive, and expensive, and it’s one of the worst culprits when it comes to scope creep.

Web development today is excessively front-loaded, involving extensive client discussions to predict their website’s future needs, which aren’t based on user data since there are no users initially. This pre-user development is a gamble, worsened by clients’ incomplete understanding of their needs. This prolonged process takes around six months and often leads to scope creep and budget overruns. Moreover, making changes becomes complex and costly as sites evolve over time, leading to infrequent updates.

Enter growth-driven design. 

How Growth-Driven Design Works

Growth-driven design will fall into three phases: strategy, launch, and improvement. Here’s how that looks.

Phase One: Strategy

It’ll always be cheaper and easier to plan a website before you build it than to jump in with some half-baked ideas and try to muddle through. Planning is crucial if you’re going to launch a trim, efficient, effective site as quickly as possible.

You’ll need a focused growth strategy. The whole point of a launchpad site is to be the first stepping stone toward a better, more optimized site, so sit down with the client and talk about the direction you want the site to go. Set clear objectives — pick KPIs that you can set a number to, so you can clearly tell whether you’re meeting goals or not.

Focus on the customer first.

Remember the goal of the website is not to show off how much you spent on a website; it’s to provide customers with a centralized hub of timely, relevant, useful information. Pay attention to what customers’ needs and pain points are so you can address them specifically.

Finally, think about your customer’s journey. What drove them to your industry? What kind of questions do they ask before making a purchase? What are the things that will clinch a sale, and what might drive them away? Your site should be shaped in a way that helps guide customers along their journey toward making a purchase.

Phase Two: The Launchpad

Phase two is actually launching a site. Remember, this isn’t supposed to be a final product. In fact, there won’t really be a final product, since you’ll constantly be adjusting the site (more on that later). Instead, you’re launching a sleek, minimal site that will meet your basic needs better than what you already have while informing future changes.

A traditional website build takes about six months. It also requires a huge amount of money to be spent up front. As we mentioned, a lot can change in six months, which means you’ll almost certainly be changing what you build along the way. And finally, you’re building a site based on assumptions about what the customer will want, not based on actual data.

With a GDD launchpad build, you should have a site up and running in two to three months. Your budget will be light in front, just enough to launch the site with the few pages it needs to get started. Instead, you’ll save most of your money for optimization later on.

Since you’re not building nearly as much, there’s very little room for scope creep, so you’re much more likely to launch on time and under budget. Once you have a site up and running, you can start to make decisions about the future of the site based on real data

Phase Three: Continuous Improvement

Don’t think of a website as a single “launch it and leave it” product — think of it as a subscription. Rather than spending tens of thousands upfront for a “finished” product that might be obsolete in a few months, you’re spending a small amount upfront and putting the rest toward development.

Here’s the best part: If you build a 30-page site right off the bat, there’s a good chance that some of those pages won’t be necessary, in which case you’ve wasted a good chunk of your budget. If you start small and build as the data demands it, you might still end up with 30 pages on your site. But with GDD, you can be confident that the site actually needs all of those pages because the site usage data told you so.

Pick a single metric that you want to improve on your site — bounce rate, number of visitors, pages viewed per session, conversion, or whatever is a high priority for you and your company right now. Strategize about what needs to change on your site in order to make that metric improve. Then, build it all at once.

Since you’re making relatively minor adjustments, it should be quick and easy to update the site, at which point you can immediately start collecting data to see if your update is working. If it doesn’t work, back to the drawing board. If it does, share your findings with other departments to make sure that everyone is up to date on the new changes you’ve made.