My agency has been designing and building websites for businesses in the Melbourne FL area since 2009. Needless to say a lot has changed over the years. From the old days of building out each page by hand in Dreamweaver to embracing the power of Wordpress, we’ve seen a lot change in the technical development of an average website. One thing hasn’t changed... The traditional website design process. In today’s fast paced business world there has to be a better process to designing and launching a website that minimizes risk and maximizes results. Thankfully, we stumbled upon that process, Growth Driven Design.
Just 15 minutes into the “Intro to GGD for Agencies” webinar, I knew that what I was watching was going to shape the landscape of website design over the next few years. It also forced me to take a look at my current process and challenged the way I do website design. What I learned about my current website was surprising and convinced me that growth driven design was something I needed to invest in.
Like many website designers I wanted to show off my skills via my own site. I wanted to create a great user experience that had a lot of movement. My hope was that the more I had available, especially on my home page, the more interactions I would receive. I always received compliments on how “cool” my website was but I wanted to see if it was working for my business, not my “coolness” factor. I used Hotjar, a powerful UX tool that allows you to see actually how your visitors are using your site, to see if my original hypothesis was true.
We all know it’s not just about driving traffic, but driving traffic that converts. I was hoping to see that my visitors would interact with the many calls-to-action I made available on the homepage. Looking at the data, the results were less than impressive.
While the most clicks did go to my contact page, I had zero clicks in my slider CTA’s. This was pretty disappointing considering I assumed my visitors would take action because the slider was interactive. Also note that the “request consultation” CTA in the top navigation received no actions as well. Again, another blow to my ego and my website's effectiveness.
Having an understanding of how a user is interacting with your site is powerful. It can unlock ways for you to improve your site to adapt to them. Looking at the user movement on my site again revealed a ton of information. Once again the big area of disappointment was the slider. It was as if my visitors avoided this area all together. I had put a lot of weight on this aspect of my site, placing it above the fold and adding important information and CTA’s. I could quickly conclude that this is not something my users wanted to see.
Most of the movement remained in the navigation and header. My visitors were looking for something in that area of my site and based on the clicks report, were not finding it. Growth driven design was starting to make more sense the more I investigated my current process.
As I stated before, my assumption was the more information I can get on my homepage, the better. I assumed my visitors would see the great layout, and based on that continue to engage with my content all the way down my page. I had spent hours writing the content and working to display it in a creative, yet clear way, to encourage my users to connect with me.
One look at this image and you can clearly see how important above the fold content is. Only 25% of viewers actually saw all that I had to offer. If you compare this to the other images, the 25% that did see all of the content still didn’t interact at a high rate.
So, with this information I had a decision to make. Keep the site the way it is and hope that my users start to do what I want them to do, or try something new. I chose to fully embrace growth driven design and create a site that grows around my users' needs and experience. Over the past month I have been planning out my launch pad site. I compiled a list of over 75 items I wanted or believed my users were looking for, created a hierarchy to determine how important each item was and where it fit in the design process. After deciding what was going to make the launch pad site, I began the development process. This was probably the most challenging. So many times I found my self wanting to add extra things into the site that were not on the original list. This was definitely a lesson in self-control, as I had to over and over again force myself to break the old habits of traditional web design and stick to the plan.
Today we officially launch the first stage of our new growth driven site and are excited to see the results. Over the next month we will track each page on this new launch pad site and at the end of the month compile the research and make adjustments based on the user data. So make sure your sign up for blog updates to follow along with our progress.
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