People say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I can think of no place that is more applicable than in the world of creative web design. A simple tour of internet sites yields thousands of websites with different colors, shapes, styles, and features. Many of these websites are unique, many of them look the same, but at a glance, it’s easy to see that not all sites are created equal.
Traditional Website Design
One of the biggest challenges we face as an agency focusing on Growth-Driven Design (learn more here) is having discussions with companies used to the traditional model of website design. In the traditional model, a website can take up to a year to launch. In many cases, the sites are beautiful (to the designer and the client, at least) but at launch it’s easy to see that the website doesn’t perform. It doesn’t get leads and sometimes visitors don’t like the layout or imagery despite all the work and effort (oh, subjectivity). At this point, the investment of time has been extensive but yielded few results.
As marketers who design and build websites with marketing efforts in mind, our goal is to avoid that scenario. We want a proper balance between many variables, including aesthetics, functionality, navigability, user experience, and – most importantly – the optimization for conversion and searchability. When making design decisions, we try to use gathered data to make educated guesses, but also to implement our ideas quickly so we can start collecting data on the actual design.
The agency you choose to work with must have a similar vision as you, and the focus should be on driving conversions and engaging users, not on how aesthetically pleasing your website is. (A perfect example of an ugly website is Craigslist. Despite its appearance, however, it continues to be one of the websites with the most user engagement; it’s also functional and easily findable.)
This process of moving quickly through design and functionality to find what works is called Growth-Driven Design. In this process, we typically launch a website, called a Launchpad site, within 90 days. The launchpad site has the basic functionality and relevant content a website needs to start providing a good user experience, easy conversions, and a fresh and innovative look. We create the extra bells, whistles, and less relevant pages later. We consider what has a higher likelihood of yielding a result, then decide what needs to be implemented first, gather data (interactions, clicks, videos, etc.) of how users receive, respond, and interact with the information, then make educated changes based on real user data.
In this approach, our goal is to substitute designer intuition and guesswork with real scientific data to make our efforts have real, viewable results. By using several technologies, we’ve discovered some amazing nuggets of wisdom that have helped drive more engagement. For one of our clients, for example, we noticed one of the two CTAs we placed on the banner wasn’t getting any engagement. The CTA (which was to “request a demo”) had only a .5% conversion rate. Few people were interested in clicking this CTA and instead would navigate the website using the top navigation or would leave the site entirely.
The data made it clear that the CTA was not appropriate for this location. We tried a simple change – instead of “request a demo,” we offered an introduction video to the company with a next level CTA immediately after the video. We replaced “request a demo” with “view video introduction”; much to our satisfaction, this was the right move. Clicks and engagement rose to 10% and, even better, users were watching the video and reading the case study offered at the end. This is the kind of impact a Growth-Driven Design approach can have on your website conversions.
The Bottom Line
What’s the bottom line? If you’re thinking about redesigning your website, the design itself shouldn’t be the center of your strategy. Although aesthetics matter, it’s essential to have a strategy complemented by aesthetics versus something merely beautiful. Gorgeous websites are pleasing to look at, but users come to your site to derive value; to give it to them, you have to offer the right content at the right time and, although you may have a general idea, the fact is that guessing is a thing of the past. With so many tools at your disposal, you can fine-tune your marketing, give your users what they need when they need it, and provide real value. Growth-Driven Design helps you do that!
If you want to learn more about growth driven design, check out this webinar about refreshing your website with GDD.