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4 Phases of A User Driven Website Redesign: the Growth Driven Design Process

Mar 7, 2016
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The never ending website redesign cycle is frustrating for many site owners. Every 2 to 3 years you shell out 5 thousand dollars or more to revamp your image online with the hope your visitors will like your new site and invite others to engage. The key word in that last sentence was “hope.” The traditional website redesign process is centered more around designer’s preferences than users' needs and wants. This is a problem. That is why our agency has decided to opt for a better approach; an approach built on results and real user data to ensure your users get a site that meets their needs.

Growth Driven Design is the solution to the traditional website redesign cycle. With the vast amount of data that is now available online, it makes no sense not to use it to your advantage. This is exactly what we do when creating a Growth Driven Website. Over the next few paragraphs I’ll walk you through the process of how Growth Drive Design (GDD) works and why embracing this new method will deliver a website that gets results!

The Growth Driven Website Design Process

The GDD process is broken down into four phases: Strategy, Launch Pad, Post Launch and On-Going Improvements. Each phase serves a unique purpose with the end goal of creating a website that is focused on your users and your growth.

Phase 1: Strategy

When it comes to successful marketing, starting with strategy is a must! Your website, the foundation for your marketing efforts, and taking the time to strategize and plan a path to success is critical. Depending on the size of the site, this phase typically takes about 3 weeks.

The strategy phase begins with a “Kickoff Meeting” where we lay out the details of the process and begin the research. We make fundamental assumptions about our users and begin to shape our personas. Even if you’ve done persona research before, it’s always good to go back and dig deeper. Just like real people, personas change and adapt. Empathy mapping is a powerful way to really get to know your audience. In order to really get a clear picture of what their buyer journey is, you have to first understand how and why they make decisions.

In this phase, we begin to develop the global site strategy as well as how we need to frame your company's story or message to be most impactful.

The first phase is wrapped up by creating a “wishlist.” This is a list of 75+ elements and ideas you would like to see on your site. The key here is to remember it’s a wishlist. Just because we want something doesn’t mean our users feel the same way. We use the growth driven approach on our website and I can tell you from experience, a number of my wishlist items had to be cut simply because my users didn’t want them. Remember, your website is for your users, not you! 

Phase 2: Launch Pad

The typical website redesign process takes about 3 to 6 months before the revamped site is launched. This is another benefit of GDD. Since the goal is to understand what your users want, we launch in about 4 weeks so we can start collecting data.

In this phase we build out the core of the website. We focus on the 20% of the items that make 80% of the impact. Everything that is a "must have" in order to get the site live is created and launched in this phase. Many times when people hear "launch pad site" they think “unfinished.” But that’s not the case at all. It’s more like cutting it back to the essentials. It’s all about focusing on what matters most and then building on top of that.

In this phase we are trying to either prove or disprove the research we uncovered in the first phase. Detailed specifics are still unknown because they are based on strategy planning and brainstorming. But this is where GDD really takes off. Instead on setting it and forgetting it, we’re just getting started.

Phase 3: Post-Launch

Phase three is about collecting, analyzing and putting the data back into the strategy. This phase happens over the third and fourth month of the project (depending on size of site).

At this point the launch pad site is up and we’ve started collecting data from real users. One of our favorite GDD tools is Hotjar which allows you to see first hand how your visitors are using your website. For a complete list of our GDD Tool Box, click here.

Remember the wishlist you did in phase 1? This is when you go back to wishlist and select the "High Impact" items that we didn't get to for the launch of the Launch Pad site. Once again, these items need to match what your users need. Look at the data and sort the items around user impact and ROI, not your wants. We recommend adding one element to a page at a time. This way you have a clearer picture of the impact of that element.

Phase 4: On-Going Improvement

Over the past four months you’ve done detailed research, launched your new site and have started to collect real user data. In the typical website redesign process, you would most likely still be waiting for the final drafts of the mock up.

Phase 4 is a never really “finished.” Each month as you collect more and more data you make tweaks and changes based on what will make the greatest impact.

Here are a few key areas to keep in mind when deciding what to change based on the GDD Hierarchy:

  • Utility: Is your audience finding value in your website, its content and features?
  • Usability: Are they easily finding what they want and leaving happy?
  • Conversion Rate Optimization: Are they effectively moving through the funnel?
  • Stickiness: Are they returning or coming once and never coming back?
  • Personalization: How do we personalize the top 4 items for each persona?
  • New Assets: Creating high impact, valuable "assets" to the website?
  • Virality: Is each visitor bringing at least 1.1 other visitors with them?

The goal of this post was to help you better understand the process of growth driven design and how it helps you create a smarter website that meets your users' needs. The traditional website redesign process is risky. It leaves way too much open to interpretation. Growth Driven Design is about using the data available to create a website that delivers exceptional results and sets your business apart from the competition.

Website Redesign Project Plan

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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