An Introduction to Growth-Driven Design

It's time to learn from the past and fix them...


Traditional web design leaves both parties exposed to risks and is a dissatisfactory process.

Growth-Driven Design is a new way to develop websites with less risk and more success. It is a smarter, more agile and data-driven approach to web creation with better results and less stress than the traditional methods.

The traditional way to building a website has always been a dangerous process, with budget overruns and risk that costly to all parties involved. It’s typically slow and rarely results in a project that makes all parties happy.

After having built many websites, we are delighted to discover there is a better way to build websites. It’s called Growth-Driven Design.






Growth-Driven Design is a new approach.

It’s an approach based on looking at all the ways traditional design has failed and creating a new process. Growth-Driven Design fixes the flaws of traditional web design.

The assumptions of traditional design are dated and at the core root of all the problems. 

Are you giving your website the credit it deserves?

Many businesses often need reminding that it's highly likely their website is their biggest sales and marketing asset.

Chances are high that your website is the centrepiece of all your marketing and sales activities.

50% of all mobile searches are conducted in hopes of finding local results, and 61% of those searches result in a purchase. (Search Engine Watch)  

For most enterprises, your website is the first contact point for your prospects. Prospects need to trust your organisation before they are willing to contact you. Your website is a key creator of this trust.

Studies show that 70% of the prospect's research is done on your website before contact. That moment-of-truth point when the prospect contacts you.

Your website is a critical salesperson for your business, every day of the year. So how does yours stack up?


So how does traditional web design fail you?

To appreciate the flaws with traditional design, let's take a second to reflect on how it went building your last website.

  • How would you describe the overall experience?
  • What went right and wrong in the process?
  • How much time/energy/resources did it take to eventually get it live?
  • Did it get launched on time or budget?
  • How long ago was it that you built your website?
  • How often have you updated the site since?
  • How excited are you to do another website redesign?

Chances are very high that your website experience was difficult, expensive and frustrating.

The traditional website redesign process is filled with systemic risk and difficult challenges. These issues are overwhelming and the become financial and moral headaches.

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Risks of traditional web design

Traditional design takes too long.

They are never on budget as it is impossible to price correctly such large projects. This occurs because new assumptions are made as new information comes to life.

Technology also tends to change while the site is taking 3-9 months to build.

They go over budget.

They cost too much upfront, with an upfront commitment to the price before an understanding of the effectiveness appreciated. A good website will cost between $10-100k.

Getting the management buy-in is tough.

It's hard to get the buy-in of senior management as nobody likes the number of resources required to create a site. It's worrisome that there is no surety of the results.

This makes it scary for senior management.

There is hangover and fear from last time.

Often the resources devoted to the previous site haven't recovered from the last massive renovation effort 3-5 years ago.


They're not made on time and aren't flexible.

Even if the budget and time are approved, there are so many moving parts, people, and steps involved in a large project.

It’s extremely difficult to accurately quote the cost and determine how long a big project will take. 

Particularly so when there are so many eyeballs creating opinions that effect the outcome of the website.

This makes it extremely common for a website project to be delayed and run over budget.

Subjective designs and no guarantee it will improve performance.

This gets scary when you consider you are being held accountable by management for an increase in results from your website redesign.

So the big question becomes:

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 actually launching is the best possible performing website?

The answer is you can’t. It’s impossible.

Traditional websites are often based on unvalidated assumptions that were thought to be correct without true understanding.

Clients wishes combined with the assumptions made by the creator result in unproven assumptions.

These untested assumuptions are damaging to the build of your website. The bad news is these descision are made all the time throughout the process.

Marketers and businesses have all lived these horror stories of a website being launched, only to watch the website’s performance tank for one reason or another.


After launch, a website typically sits with no major updates for 2 to 3 years. 

This is a remarkable occurrence when your consider that your website is your sales and marketing centrepiece.

Growth-Driven Design is a completely new approach and way of thinking about building and growing your website.

The GDD methodology minimises risks associated with traditional web design.

We work to avoid the risks of traditional web design by taking a systematic approach to shorten the time to launch, focusing on real impact, continuous learning and improvement.

So what does continual improvement look like?

By working with the GGD methodology, we are constantly researching, testing and learning about our visitors to discover on-going website enhancements.

Through continuous improvements we can reach peak performance.

Growth-Driven Design is tightly integrated with marketing and sales. What we learn about visitors helps inform and improve our strategies and tactics.


The strategy stage

The first stage of GDD is the strategy stage. Our goal in the strategy stage is to develop a strong foundation. This foundation will be based on the following steps...


What are the performance goals that we are trying to achieve with our website? What does history tell us from the past? What would you like to achieve? What would you like to improve? How will this effect your goals?

From there, we develop the strategy followed by a wishlist, then the launch pad website is designed.

As a tool to get help with goal setting, download the SMART goals worksheet here.

A key to your goal development is targeting a persona. By creating a detailed profile of the people that are to come to your site, you create empathy for your future customer.

Use a personal toolkit. To learn how to create personas for your business, download HubSpot’s free buyer persona PowerPoint template.


Gather up the statistics and analytics that are relevant to your site. By analysing the data, you are able to get a good understanding of what is performing and what is not. Often new websites are designed based on the old website. If the old website is poor, it creates a bad starting foundation for the new website. So it is important that the existing statistics are analysed.


Quantitative research - website & analytics audit

It’s time to start digging into the data. Perform a quantitative audit of how the existing website is performing, and review what is, and is not, performing well. You should also investigate where users are dropping off, etc.

As you are completing your website audit, you will start identifying where there is an opportunity for improvements for your future web work.


Fundamental assumptions

Using what you’ve learned in all of the previous steps, you can now start forming some fundamental assumptions about your users.

Some examples of fundamental assumptions include:

  • Value propositions for each product, service and offer
  • The various locations and devices users will be accessing your website from
  • What information your users are looking for

These fundamental assumptions will help you explain the behaviour and motivations of your users.

They will also be influential in both the global and page strategy, and also future Growth-Driven Design cycles


Global and page strategy

The last step in the strategy phase is to develop both a global strategy for the website as a whole, as well as a special page-by-page strategy for each major page on the site.


The wishlist brainstorm

This brainstorming session gives you the chance to dream big for your website. It gives you the chance to start with a clean slate and think about possibilities without limitations.

The brainstorm is to invent how you want the impact of your site to register with your target persona.

This is key sections and pages, special features, design, mobile considerations with attention to marketing tools and resources.


The Launch Pad website

In the traditional web design process, we think of the launching of the website as the finish. In Growth-Driven Design, it is the complete opposite.

In this stage, we will be building and launching what we call a “Launch Pad website”. This Launch Pad website is the starting point on which all of your other Growth-Driven Design activities and improvements are made.

The Launch Pad website should be launched quickly and will not be perfect. 

We want to avoid getting stuck on analysis, features or content while building our Launch Pad website. It may not be perfect on launch, but no website is. 

However, it’s extremely important that you’re able to boil it down to the essential 20% that will make an impact and launch quickly so you can continue to learn about your users and improve the site.

This is the key to Growth-Driven Design. Getting a Launch Pad site up so you can start learning about the impact your design has on your target persona.

So how do you determine what type of site you should put up as your Launch Pad?


Your Launch Pad site should be based on an 80/20 analysis on your wishlist.

Take your wishlist items and prioritise the stages that are essential to your goals. Pick the 20% of the topics that will produce 80% of the impact for your websites users.


Creat a hypothesis statement for each core action item.

Once we have narrowed down our list of action items for the Launch Pad website down to the core 20% “must have” items, you will then create a “hypothesis statement” for each one of the action items.

At the bottom of each statement, there are four important items:

Expected Impact - The impact value should be a single number based on the value the visitor will get from the action item, and the impact that it will have in moving toward your goals.

Effort Required - The effort required should also be a single number that represents the combination of the number of hours, resources and difficulty to implement that particular action item.

Metrics Measured - What unique metrics will you need to measure to test this specific action item and evaluate if your hypothesis was correct? The more specific the metrics are that you list, the better.

Definition of Complete - What are all the steps you need to do to consider this action item complete? Defining this up front is important because it will erase any grey areas that may arise later down the road when reviewing results or efficiency.


Web process steps

Once you have identified the most critical action items you must include on your Launch Pad site, you can run those items through the standard website implementation process, including:

  • Messaging and content
  • User experience (UX) and site architecture
  • Inbound marketing strategy alignment
  • Wireframes
  • Designs
  • Development
  • Quality assurance and testing


Set up data collection

The last step of the Launch Pad website is to establish qualitative and quantitative data collection around:

  • Your goals defined in the strategy phase
  • Each of your fundamental assumptions --and--
  • Each hypothesis statement of your action items implemented in the Launch Pad website

Setting up data collection is an important step, as it allows you to start learning about your visitors once your Launch Pad site is live.


PHASE 2: the Growth-Driven Design cycle.

Continuous improvement

Once you have launched your Launch Pad website, it will be time to start your on-going cycles to continuously experiment, learn and improve on your site.

Coming out of your Launch Pad website, you will still have a long wishlist of impactful items that you’d like to implement on the site. This list is agile and should be updated on a regular basis.

At each stage of the cycle, we must continuously ask ourselves how this relates and provides value to the personas visiting your website.


Cycle Step 1 - Planning

The first step of the Growth-Driven Design cycle is planning. At this step, you will be identifying the most impactful items at the current moment and planning to implement the top ones into the current cycle.

There are a number of steps to go through in the planning phase:

Performance vs. Goals - Review the current performance of the website and contrast that to the goals you’re trying to achieve. This will inform you of where there is an opportunity to improve.

Additional Data or Research - Coming out of the last cycle, and while reviewing your performance vs. goals, there is often additional data and research you may need to do to help clarify what action items you should add to your wish list.

Learning from Marketing and Sales - Connect with the marketing and sales teams and see what key items they learned about the user since your last cycle.

Boost Conversions - The first bucket of wishlist activities are those that are directly related to conversion rate optimisation.

Improve User Experience - Improvements to the website that gives the user a better experience makes it easier for them to navigate, gives them what they are looking for and solves their problem(s).

Personalise to the User - Adapting the site, Calls-To-Action, content offers, etc. to the special visitor based on the data we know about them. This includes, but is not limited to, tailoring based on interests, persona, device, geolocation, referral source or previous actions on your site.

Build Marketing Assets - Marketing assets are items that hold great value for your marketing program, such as email lists, social accounts, your blog, etc.

Build new marketing assets into the website such as tools, in-depth resource sections, online training, directories, etc. -- any item that will provide high value to both the end user and your company.


Prioritise your wishlist

Once you have all the new items added to the wishlist, you will then need to prioritise all the action items based on the (high/medium/low) impact they will have on the goals of the website and value to the user.

Plan sprint cycle: With an updated and prioritised wishlist, you can then pick the most impactful action items that you want to implement in this cycle.

The number of items you pick will depend on how long the cycle is.

You’re better off picking fewer items and focusing on doing your best work with them. If you happen to complete them early, you can always go back to your wish list and pick more.


Cycle step 2: develop

Moving into the developing phase of the cycle, you now have the most impactful action items to work on, and it’s time to start implementing them on the site.

To measure your experiments, you must setup validation tracking around the metrics outlined in the action item.

After your experiment is pushed live, you may want to develop a marketing campaign (social, PPC, blogging, etc.) specifically to drive traffic to that section of the site so you can start collecting data.

During the development phase of the cycle, you will build and schedule that marketing campaign while working with your marketing team.


Cycle step 3: learn

After your experiments have had enough time to run and collect data, you can then move to the learning phase.

In the learning phase you are going to review what information you received about your website visitors.

Based on the information you collected, you can then validate or disprove your hypothesis on your action item card. Did your change have the impact you expected, and why? Based on the results, what did this teach you about your visitor? What did you learn about them that you didn’t know before?


Cycle step 4: transfer

The last step in the cycle is to now transfer any impactful information you’ve learned in your cycle to other parts of your business.

Take time to review what you’ve gained from each completed action item and brainstorm how this may be usual for others. Review previously completed action items to see if you can and any patterns about your users.

Want to learn more about how to implement a Growth-Driven Design strategy for your business? Download this free eBook on the introduction to Growth-Driven Design to get started. 


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