Your company website is important—it's the only place online where you have total control over user experience.
Despite recent claims that modern websites are becoming obsolete, most businesses benefit from having them. Have you ever tried editing your company's Unique Value Proposition into 160 characters in your company's Twitter bio? Not so easy.
As popular as social media has become, it doesn't always lend itself to painting a comprehensive picture of what you do, telling people why they should care, and creating sales funnels. Translation: Websites aren't going away anytime soon! While very few businesses are still fronting Office Space-style corporate sites, many are understandably unsure of which kind of site to invest in next.
We don't want our Website to become obsolete a year after building it!
It's a typical sentiment spoken by executives in industries across the board, and it makes sense. Design trends typically span several years. Furniture, fashion, and automobiles all provide a decent return on investment in terms of longevity of relevancy. Meaning, no eyebrows will raise when you pick up your kids from soccer practice in the Volvo you bought five years ago. It's not like arriving in a '95 pinto.
But in the world of web design, five years is a LONG time. Since designers and developers are so close to the tech industry and creative by nature, it's only natural they would innovate more quickly than other industry leaders.
Website Trends Come and Go
Last year, the world's largest corporations were clamoring for flat design: Sleek gradients, minimalist elements, and flat colors. This year, though flat design is still relevant, early-adopters are already experimenting with something called Web brutalism; a throwback to hand-coded HTML sites with 90s inspired graphics.
The bottom line? Keeping up with web design trends without an unlimited budget is next to impossible. Quotes for company websites typically range from $3,000 to $100,000, depending on whom you ask. The reason for the variance is a mixture of a variety of ways to do the same task and simple chutzpah. Regardless, a complete redesign is a sizable investment for most companies.
With this in mind, we feel it's time for a paradigm shift. It's time for companies to move away from complete redesigns and move toward Growth-Driven Design (GDD).
Choose Growth-Driven Design
GDD is redesigning a website incrementally over time is redesigning a website incrementally over time, only making changes when necessary based on key performance indicators. It's putting user-experience and marketing objectives over trends because, at the end of the day, your website should be a tool to drive business. That's it. And how well it accomplishes that goal is the most effective indicator of continued relevance. Updating to a slicker, hipper look may be a waste of money if your current site is already attracting the quantity and quality of prospects you need.
Here's how to pursue a growth-driven design strategy.
Phase 1: Create a Launchpad Site
You'll want to begin by creating a fully-optimized launchpad site. This is your baseline for all future design changes. Your launchpad site should be fully optimized, designed for speed, and created with enough internal flexibility for making changes later on.
The good news is the methods for achieving these features are well-documented, and unlike the previously discussed trends, aren't going anywhere anytime soon! Launchpad sites can typically be built in 4-8 weeks. Taking such a pragmatic approach (adding the "bells & whistles" as you go along) allows business owners to launch in half the time and half the cost of traditional site redesigns.
So, while your website may not be "the dream site" at the time of launching, it will have everything you need to start converting leads right away. Improvements are then slowly added over time in phase two.
Phase 2: Redesign According to Metrics (Only)
Once a month, review your website and corresponding growth metrics. Ask yourself questions like:
- How much have conversion rates changed compared to last month?
- How much have page bounces changed from last month?
- How long are visitors staying on pages x, y, and z?
- Why do we think people are clicking away?
Again, the definition of your site's success should be based on how effectively it's helping accomplish your business goals. A designer may think a perfectly functioning website needs to be updated because it's not sexy. A developer may think your lead-generating machine is boring because it wasn't coded from scratch. But none of that really matters if you're not converting leads into customers.
The only way to optimize your site's user experience is to apply the right tweaks on a regular basis. Leading brands often focus less on site redesign and more on continuous improvement. Achieving a cycle of data-driven improvements, based on behavioral insights is gold.
Phase 3: Plan for Growth
Ultimately, your new website is nothing more than a hypothesis. You're making calculated decisions that you hope will generate leads and sales. A/B split-testing design elements, headlines ,and CTAs are all important to achieve optimal results.
As website tweaks become more and more minimal, you'll want to begin thinking more in-depth about your Buyer's Journey and creating unique content funnels for each stage (i.e. awareness, consideration and decision). This is where the real marketing power comes in: Weaving design and copy together in a way that guides prospects through each stage of interaction.
And this is exactly where most redesigns fall short. The coolest design in the world isn't worth anything if it doesn't come with on-brand copy, intuitive features, and lead generation funnels. By following a growth-driven design strategy, you can expect marketing results as soon as three months after your launchpad site goes live. And not just "one-time results," but cumulative results that build over time.
Conversions Never Go Out of Style
Effective websites are a significant investment that must be nurtured with continual improvements to see worthwhile returns. Growth-driven design is just one way to create that culture of continual improvement.
As we've shown, companies who need both website and marketing support often find better results with GDD. Regardless of what you decide, forgo investing in an expensive new site until you have a complimentary online marketing plan in place. Otherwise, you might really be just throwing money away.