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 questions. Your website is often the first place a new prospect interacts with your brand. In fact, after your page loads, you have .05 seconds to impress your visitor and 94% of people cited web design as the reason they mistrusted or rejected a website. (Source) As a business owner, it’s imperative your website exceeds customers' expectations and presents a clear and compelling message about 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. Adding to this challenge is the report from Adobe that "Given 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds of people would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain."
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.
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.
User Experience should be a top consideration in the planning stage. Your website needs to be intuitive and dynamic. It's important to always keep in mind your digital content may be your only opportunity to leave an impression on a potential customer.
Consider these statistics:
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.
Growth-Driven Design works because it ensures that your website serves your users and your business' 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.
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 moves, 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. 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 thing we do in a growth-driven project is launch a “launch pad" site. If you are familiar with the software world, this first iteration 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 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. 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 continue to push a product or service that no one wants, will you gain momentum? Of course not. In fact, if you don't shift your approach you will 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 months” 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.
At SMA we approach Website Redesign with the priority to serve your current and potential customers. We incorporate beautiful design, SEO best practices, and an attention to detail. We track every change we make utilizing tools such as A/B tests and Google Tag Manager to ensure that you make the best digital impression whether your customers find you on mobile, tablet, or desktop.
Contact our team today to learn how growth-driven design can help you create a website that works for your business.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in December, 2017 and has been updated for freshness and accuracy.
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