After ages of dilly-dallying, you have finally decided to come up with a new website design.
Of course, you're beyond stoked! After all, an outdated website is nothing short of committing business suicide. It's the top reason visitors can't wait to leave your tiny nook on the web.
You have tons of ideas on how your new website will look like. You have created a list of pages that you want to include in the new design. There's a Dropbox folder housing all the beautiful images that you'd love to see in your new website. Plus, you have poured your heart and soul into creating content that you're certain will catapult you as one of your niche's thought leader. You're all set!
Not so fast!
The Problem With Website Design Projects
It looks like you may have to wait between 3 to 6 months to see the finished product. The price quote was way beyond your budget. And there's no guarantee that your newfangled website will finally give your lackluster traffic a boost.
Your new website doesn't have to be a Sisyphean undertaking.
Like all types of projects, it all begins with a sound strategy. Regarding a new website design, your strategy doesn't have to involve what should be on your website. Hailed as the father of competitive strategy, Michael Porter is known for this gem of a principle:
The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.
Like a Prototype
In Porter's Five Tests of Good Strategy, he differentiates a good choice from a bad one through the following principles:
- You must choose a distinctive value proposition.
- You must choose to tailor your activities to that value proposition.
- You must choose to make trade-offs.
- Fit is the fourth test.
- Continuity is strategy’s fifth test.
This is what the lean website design process is about. Crazy Egg's Sabina Idler succinctly describes it as a way of doing something with a verified goal in mind and with a very clear focus.
According to Idler, focusing on lean web design means having a constant focus on the actual user.
A lean website design is also referred to as Growth-Driven Design (GDD).
As we described earlier in this article How Growth-Driven Design Works to Grow Your Brand; GDD is patterned after the fundamental tenets of the lean school of thought: constant reflection and adaptation.
It has two distinct phases.
First, you create a launchpad website. Second, you go through the growth driven cycle, comprised of learning loops wherein you experiment, learn, and improve.
Think of it as prototyping where it's not about getting it right for the first time. In fact, the best products out there are a result of multiple prototyping. As the Project Breaker folks say; you prototype because you need to explore your options -- to try things and fail, further informing your design process.
Read more about How Growth Driven Design Aligns with the Lean Methodology here.
Benefits of a Lean Website Design Project
Why would you go through a lean website design process when it's all about exploring your options and trying things out?
Wouldn't it be less of a hassle to worry about the design in one go and just be done with it?
While some circumstances make the traditional process a more sensible idea, majority of brands will benefit from a lean website design project through the following:
1. You'll have a new website running in a short span of time.
Getting a new website via the traditional route takes 3 to 4 months to finish. Whereas a lean website design project’s initial goal is to create an MVP, or the Minimum Viable Product. In GDD, your MVP website is ready to launch in 4 to 6 weeks.
Many mistakenly assume that launching an MVP means creating a working product with just a minimum set of features. In reality, the MVP itself is a process.
Think of your launchpad website as an experiment to prove or disprove your assumptions, such as whether or not your call-to-action (CTA) button is snazzy enough to really drive your prospects to take action.
2. You build the buyer’s journey based on real user data.
Mapping the buyer's journey is one of the fundamental practices that make inbound marketing tick. In the traditional design process, the buyer's journey is rarely taken into account because the buttons, product placement, and the overall theme of your website has been set in stone.
On the other hand, a lean approach to a new website design is complemented with constant feedback and iteration from real user data. You put your launch pad site out there and channel the inner scientist in you.
With a system in place that collects customer data, you get to learn how they interact with your site’s elements. This valuable information will guide future iterations of your website.
3. You can quickly identify points of friction and remove them from the user experience pronto.
What if your data reveals that website visitors leave the moment they hop on to your pricing page?
With GDD, you can quickly tweak your website and remove or add elements that will improve the user experience, such as better pricing page positioning, improved navigation, and strategic placement of your opt-in box.
As design thought leader Gerry McGovern explains, the Lean approach is as much about taking away as it is about adding.
4. You can start improving conversion rates from day one.
GDD allows you to optimize your site as you move forward, identifying problem areas, and make data-driven adjustments.
For instance, you've read somewhere that red buttons have been shown to get the most number of clicks in contrast to other colors. Thus, you instructed the designer you’ve commissioned to color your CTA buttons red. What if it doesn’t work for your website?
If you opt for the lean process, tweaking the CTA buttons or website navigation is a breeze. First, you’ll have your website design team on demand which is part of the GDD retainer. Second, GDD measures and evaluates all possible opportunities for conversion – from split testing landing pages to mapping paths as users navigate your website.
5. You get the real value of your investment by putting your users first.
What happens when you invest $50,000 in a website design, only to find out that your customers are frustrated by the design, navigation, and message? It’s a total waste of your resources and harms your brand.
With GDD, you can validate or invalidate assumptions like your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) and possible user behavior. Your website is completely optimized based on your customer's feedback and website behavior, as opposed to investing your entire budget on a full website grounded in your preferred aesthetics and other assumptions that could prove to be entirely wrong.
Put theory into action through these six quick ways to spend your budget on growth-driven design.
Stay Ahead of the Curve with a Lean Website Design
Digital marketing tactics are changing at a pace that most marketers can barely keep up. A hack that produced incredible results six months ago may be converting poorly today. For this reason, adopting the lean website design process is a more sensible choice to keep up with the times.
Would you prefer to proactively figure out things on your own with the lean process or would you rather wait for the next big thing in website conversion?
Which camp are you in?