At INBOUND 2015 last September, Media Junction was named Growth-Driven Design Agency of the Year. It was a huge honor for our team; and over the last several months we’ve continued to work on new projects using the growth-driven design methodology.
Over this same time period, we’ve also recommended to numerous clients that they go with a traditional website redesign. Why? After all, it might seem contrary to the momentum and popularity of growth-driven design over the last couple of years to still encourage the use of traditional website practices. However, in our experience, there’s a time and a place for each approach.
Before we explore when to use each approach, let’s first take a step back. I can hear some of you asking “Sounds great Kim, except, what the heck is growth-driven design?!” Good question, and one we can explain relatively easily.
What is Growth-Driven Design?
Growth-driven design, or GDD as it’s commonly called, is a fairly recent approach to website design and development. A traditional website redesign can take anywhere from three to five months (and large, enterprise-level sites with complex functionality have been known to take significantly longer). This traditional process involves a top-to-bottom redesign where the site won’t launch until it’s 100% complete.
GDD turns that process on its head. Instead of focusing on getting everything into the website at launch, the focus is instead on creating a “launch pad” website. A launch pad site is designed to focus on the 20% of the website that produces 80% of the results and has a quicker go-live timeframe than a traditional website redesign – a typical GDD website will launch in 30 to 45 days.
We all know that the best websites are never truly done, so what happens next is how GDD really sets itself apart from the traditional web development process. With GDD, the project continues after the website has launched. Over the coming months, the website’s metrics are monitored to understand how visitors are using it. Then, with real data in hand, the launch pad site is iterated upon and continually updated over time.
This iterative process is the core of what GDD is all about. Sounds great, right? We agree! But it’s not always a great fit for every situation.
Is Growth-Driven Design Right for You?
Your Existing Website is Ineffective
Some of the best candidates for GDD are organizations whose current websites are particularly ineffective and aren’t getting close to the results they need. For companies in this position, getting a new website up fast can be the number one priority.
In a case like this, the first step is to identify what core website features are the most critical. A new website with only a modest list of features can be developed more quickly than a traditional redesign.
Even if the launch pad website is missing some of its bells and whistles, a smart web design focused on core functionality can outperform a poorly-designed existing website. And, of course, over the next several months the growth-driven design methodology is focused on continually adding in new features to flesh out the site, and is based from actual user data.
You Need to Spread Costs Out Over Time
Depending on the particulars of your budget and your list of must-have features, it might end up being near-impossible to reconcile them both in a traditional website timeline of a few months. Growth-driven design is often budgeted out over the course of a 6 to 12-month period. This prorated structure can sometimes mean the difference between getting every feature you want – albeit spread out over time – versus having to make a hard decision to cut some functionality loose.
You’ll Struggle to Maintain Your Site Post-Launch
This one requires a bit of a hard and honest look at you and your organization. In the past, after a website redesign, did your website remain largely untouched until it was time to think about another redesign? We all have great intentions, but it’s not uncommon to see websites go months, if not a year or more, with no changes or updates.
One of the less obvious benefits of GDD is its impact on keeping a website evolving. Because the launch pad website is being continually managed over a longer period of time, not only will you be more aware of it, but you’ll be engaged in an ongoing relationship with web experts who are also thinking regularly about how to get the most out of your site – from speeding up load times and improving your SEO strategy to adding new custom modules and pages. It’s a much more active approach and, at the end of the day, keeps your website current and relevant.
Putting It All Together
As you can see, a growth-driven approach can be a compelling choice. However, each of the examples discussed above also have their flip side where a traditional website redesign might be best – maybe your existing website is performing well. Or perhaps budget isn’t an issue. And maybe you do have a longer timeframe to dedicate to a website redesign.
At Media Junction, we love helping our clients find the best path forward for their specific situation. If you’d like to know more about how you should approach your next web redesign, we’d love to help.