What is Growth-Driven Design?

By Victoria on August 02, 2021

[This article has been updated from the original written by Tyler Pigott.]

We judge books by their covers. We judge movies by their titles. We sometimes even judge people by their clothes (not on purpose of course). The point is: humans are kind of judgy. We take the information we have upfront and form a cursory opinion without seeking extra details. Guess what else we do this with? Your brand.

You've probably put lots of time into designing your logo, tagline, and other marketing material, but have you looked at your website lately? Your brand's website is often the very first impression you make on prospects. It's your brand's book cover. And much like a book cover, you rely on it to quickly and clearly communicate what your product is, what solution it offers, and why the user should choose you over the competition. 

All that to say, your website is an important asset for your brand, so redesigning it or launching a fresh one should be approached thoughtfully and methodically.

Updates are often necessary because your brand will change and grow the longer it's around. Beyond achieving the right look and feel for your site, you want to make sure it's flexible enough to transform with your brand. You don't want to set it and forget it after the initial launch. You want to continue testing and optimizing based on your user data to make your peak performance consistent performance. 

That brings us to growth-driven design. The GDD process was designed to solve many of the problems that come with traditional website design and to create more flexibility for brands as they evolve. This means updating your website along with your brand just became a whole lot easier.

In this article you'll learn:

  • The Problem With Traditional Website Design
  • What is Growth-Driven Design (GDD)?
  • The Three Stages in the Growth-Driven Design Methodology
  • Why You Should Consider GDD?

The Problem With Traditional Website Design

If you were investing in the stock market for the first time, would you stake out all your purchases and sales for the next five years, sit back, and hope for the best? Or, would you first go for low-hanging fruit, making a few strategic purchases, see how they worked out, then make a few next moves based on those results?

You probably wouldn't go with the first option, because who can really predict what the stock market will do in five years? Building a new website with a traditional web design process is a lot like trying to predict the stock market; you're basing every decision on where you are now, but your brand will undoubtedly continue to evolve. 

Also, it's just not possible to know everything about your customer's user experience when designing your site. What if they don't like your content? What if they don't respond to your inbound marketing campaigns the way you'd hoped, or don't go to the pages you want them to, or prefer chatbots over forms? 

And here's yet another problem with traditional web design: it's generally a long and expensive slog. Consider for example these metrics from several surveys on website design user data:

  • Almost 55% of companies that used traditional design and web development said the process took at least 6 months to complete, and 80% of these said the process took more than a year.
  • On average, traditionally designed sites are delivered 2 weeks late and only half launch on time.
  • 54% of marketing and IT teams say their traditional design sites are a "bottleneck" for their businesses.
  • The average cost of a traditional website redesign is $55,000. 

Growth-driven design was created to alleviate some of these pain points and create a more efficient and effective website redesign process for marketers. 

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What Is Growth-Driven Design (GDD)?

Growth-driven design was popularized by HubSpot and has been embraced by marketing teams everywhere. Although most teams have modified the process to fit the unique needs of their customers and some real-world requirements, the core methodology remains the same: launch a site, gather data, and optimize. Oh, and above all, don't expect perfection. Every website build process will have bugs and issues; it's just that GDD plans for them and fixes them iteratively. 

There are several features that make growth-driven design stand out from the traditional process. Among the most important is that GDD more effectively incorporates marketing insights into the design process. Marketing insights are a moving target (because you're always learning—or should be learning—new things about your customers), so GDD is an iterative process. You start with a lean site based on fundamental assumptions about your customers, then gradually ramp up and add on based on customer responses and new things you learn from user data.

As Luke Summerfield, widely regarded as the GDD expert, says:

"It is a smarter approach to web design that continuously improves using data and experimentation to inform how to improve the site over time. And it's a smarter approach to web design that informs other parts of the business. So as you're learning about your users, as you're collecting that data and making decisions on how to improve the website, how does that impact what you're doing on the sales side of things when you're helping their sales teams? How is that helping impacting what's going on with the marketing? And vice versa."

Is There a Growth-Driven Design Process?

In a word, yes. Typically, the GDD Methodology follows a predictable 3-stage process, as follows:

Stage 1: Website Strategy

In this stage, you will establish clear, measurable digital marketing goals based on the real data (both demographic and behavioral) you have about your buyer personas, and align those metrics with your overall business goals. Then, you'll work out your principal design approach, objectives (wishlist items) and potential challenges. This stage usually takes about 30 days.

Stage 2: Launch Pad

This stage is a bit more involved, so it usually takes about 90 days. Think of the launch pad website as the foundation for your new site, which will enable a systematic approach to iterative improvements down the line. This is basically your "bare bones" new site, which is superior to your previous site, but not yet the finished product. For example, this version could include a home page, solution page, about page and a landing page. 

Among the major elements of your initial site is its ability to collect key customer data, SEO analytics, website visitors, conversion rates and other website performance metrics. These include how many prospects are downloading gated marketing assets and giving you their contact information. 

In other words, the launchpad site is your platform for future optimization and continuous learning.

Stage 3: Continuous Improvement

In GDD, each iterative improvement to your site is referred to as a "sprint." These improvements are based on data that your site is gathering from customer behavior on the launchpad site. This data will reveal if your browsing experience is easy and intuitive and if your calls to action are compelling. You'll quickly discover if the content on your site is overwhelming or too sparse and be able to make adjustments accordingly. 

Is Growth-Driven Design the Right Process for Your Website?

Simply stated, a website built with the growth-driven design process can help you achieve your principal marketing goals more effectively than with the traditional method because it's built on data-based marketing insights. These include information about who your customers are, their pain points, needs and online behavior from the top of the sales funnel to the bottom. In other words, GDD works better than traditional design.


👉 Keep Reading: 5 Things Every Website Strategy Needs

Victoria is known for her results-oriented mindset and seeks to provide answers to our clients and their customer’s needs through UX/UI strategy. She streamlines the communication between clients and our content, design, and development teams to help bring growth-driven websites to life.

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