Having an online presence is no longer optional for businesses. Consumers in both the B2C and B2B space use the internet to find answers to their pressing question. Your website is often the first place a new prospect interacts with your brand. In fact, once your page loads, users form an opinion in .05 seconds. (Source) As a business owner, it’s imperative your website exceeds customer’s expectations and tells them in a clear and compelling way who you are and what you can do.
So, what makes a website great? The answer to this question is not as black and white as you might think. Sure, there are a few design rules that can be pointed out or even a few examples of today’s design trends. The truth is, design is subjective. What looks amazing to one person looks terrible to another. This is why traditional design practices fail to measure up in today’s personalized world. The old way of approaching website design doesn’t work. In order to create a website that engages your users, we need a new process.
It’s About The User
A line I’ve been preaching for the last few years is, “Your website is not for you, it’s for your users.” Letting your opinions and ego drive your design will, in the end, lead to disastrous results. Sure, there are a few unicorns out there that have intuition and foresight that allow them to create trends, but most of us do not.
But don’t worry! Today we have access to more data on our users than we could have even dreamed of and it’s this very data that can help us create a website that crushes expectations. Using Google Analytics and Tag Manager, which are both free, you can learn how your users are interacting with your company’s website and begin to uncover ways to improve their experience. This data-driven approach to website design is known as Growth-Driven Design.
Fast, Flexible and Focused
Growth-Driven Design works because it ensures that your website serves your users and your businesses goals. Instead of just making something look “cool” you get a website presence that promotes growth and engagement. Similar to the Agile Development Process, Growth-Driven Design is fast, flexible and focused.
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Estimates on what it takes to build a website from scratch range from 3 to 9 months. To me, this is outrageous. With the speed at which technology move, your new website is nearly outdated by the time it launches. And here is the worst part, you won’t even know if your users like it until a few months after that.
Growth-Driven Design is built around the principle of launching fast so that you can collect the data you need to make the “finished” product that much better. Now, the reasons I use quotes on finished is because your website is never finished. You should always be looking for ways to improve your site.
That said, the first we do in a growth-driven project is launch a “launch pad’ site. If you are familiar with the software world, this first iteration would is considered a minimal viable project or MVP. The goal is to gauge the reaction of the users and collect data on what they like and don’t like. This data will help inform the next phase of the project. By getting a full-functioning MVP out, you are able to validate assumptions and make sure you are on the right track. Too many times I’ve seen companies invest large sums of capital into a website product that was built the “old way” only to launch with a thud. The only way to know you are going in the right direction is to test and track. As Peter Drucker said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
As you can see above, the growth-driven process must be flexible. Now, flexibility doesn’t mean you don’t plan. In fact, the process must be planned and needs to have milestones you can manage. (See Peter Drucker quote) But unlike more traditional and formal approaches, with growth-driven design, you have the ability to change the direction as needed.
Flexibility is the key to developing products and services that provide immense value. Think for a second about your company. If you continued to push a product/service that no one wanted, would you be able to gain momentum? Of course not. In fact, if you didn’t shift your approach you would most likely go out of business. Sadly, this is the approach we often take when it comes to website design. We create what we want and refuse to change even if it’s not working.
Having a clear destination is the key to success. The problem is, most of the time we use ambiguous dreams instead of goals to set our course. ”Having a cool website” is not a goal. “Creating a website that increases our MQLs by 24% over the next three month” is a goal. It’s a very focused goal, and the only way to achieve that goal is to have a system to track, adjust and implement new ideas on an on-going basis.
This attention to detail and focused drive is what sets Growth-Driven Design apart. Sure, you may have to give up on a few features you find interesting, but if the end goal is a better website that delivers value to your business, I’m sure you won’t mind.
Here are a few more reasons to consider a user-focused, growth-driven site.
- Speaking of, you have 10 seconds to leave an impression and tell them what they’ll get out of your website and company. After this time (and oftentimes before), they’ll leave. (Source)
- 44% of website visitors will leave a company’s website if there’s no contact information or phone number. (Source)
- A single second delay in your website loading time can result in a 7% loss in conversion, and 40% of web users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. (Source)
- 48% of users say that if they arrive on a business site that isn’t working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring. (Source)
- Value-based exit intent pop-ups increase conversions, even if you think users hate them. (Source)
Author: Ryan Shelley
Ryan’s pretty much your average guy, except for the average part. He is the owner and founder of Shelley Media Arts LLC. He is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. Ryan is active in influencing and promoting human driven SEO, personalized marketing and empathic… View full profile ›