If you've been in inbound marketing for very long, you've probably encountered at least one web design project that wasn't a wild success.
Maybe the project was late by weeks. Or months. Perhaps you struggled to define your business requirements and needed costly revisions to the final project. Most likely, maybe your resulting website didn't drive the marketing results you wanted, and you found yourself up a creek and out of budget.
The last option is, unfortunately, more common than many marketers would ever be willing to admit.
Consumer expectations and behaviors are rapidly-changing. A website that looked cutting-edge in 2013 may seem positively antiquated in 2016. It's clear that traditional website redesign processes, or massive overhauls every few years, aren't necessarily the best approach. But is there another option? And could the lean method help? Join us as we discuss why lean business principles should have a lot more to do with web design than many marketers think.
What are Lean Business Principles?
The Lean Enterprise Institute lists lean principles as a five-step process, which is paraphrased below
- Define value through your customer's eyes
- Create value in a tight sequence
- Get rid of activities that don't create value
- Let your customers create value
- Continually improve
The term "lean" was used to describe Toyota's auto manufacturing processes in the 1980s. It's since become a popular methodology for the manufacturing industry and organizations in other sectors, including tech startups. In many ways, lean thinking is just good business sense. By putting a focus on your customer and adopting continual improvement cycling, you can improve quality and reduce costs.
What Does Lean Have to Do with Website Design?
As it turns out, a lot.
Or honestly speaking, the lean methodology should have a lot to do with website design.
Traditional web design methods are dangerously (and expensively) flawed. Most businesses have relied on total website redesign projects every two years. If they wanted to drastically change their content or "look," these changes had to wait until the next scheduled redesign. However, this is really just a best case scenario.
In actuality, website redesign projects are incredibly expensive. Depending on a businesses' needs, they may spend between $25,000-$50,000. In some cases, this figure looks more like $100,000. They're also time-consuming, and may take months to complete.
Here's the real kicker. Traditional web design projects might not work. When you redesign a site, you're acting on a "hunch" or a hypothesis about what's going to be the best user experience for your customers. It's not uncommon for total redesign projects to be a complete flop since user experience best practices change so quickly. In the worst case scenario, companies are stuck with a dud of a website, and no budget to fix it for two more years.
Lean website design is a response to many of these issues with traditional web design. Instead of pouring your entire budget into a one-and-done project, you make improvements on a monthly basis -- based on real data from your customer's behavior. This means you're able to prioritize changes based on "value" streams, or what matters most to your customers.
Lean Web Design is Growth Driven Design
Growth Driven Design (GDD) means treating your website as an ongoing project. By dedicating monthly time and effort to improving your site and marketing, you can ensure your site is never out-of-date.
GDD consists of two main parts:
- A LaunchPad Website
- Monthly Site Review and Refinement
Typically, a GDD website project takes place on a six-month cycle. After your launchpad website is complete, you're able to prioritize web design projects each month based on your needs. With GDD, your monthly focus could include:
- Performing landing page and call-to-action (CTA) experiments
- Optimizing homepage content performance
- Measuring visitor behavior with analytics, mouseflow tracking, and heatmap tools
- Analyzing your content resources against your buyer's journey and sales funnel
- Implementing SEO improvements based on dynamic shifts in your keyword rankings
- Improving your website for your buyer persona (ideal customer) profiles
How Does Growth Driven Design Align with the Lean Methodology?
GDD may be proof that the lean methodology can improve business processes in nearly any area of industry. As it turns out, GDD aligns extraordinarily well with the lean methodology. In contrast, traditional web design processes are a much more poor fit.
1. Define value through your customer's eyes
Ultimately, your customers want an easy-to-use, mobile optimized website. They want a web experience that allows them to access easily the information they need, and quickly.
GDD acknowledges the fact that web design best practices change. Consumer expectations are dynamic, too. By continually improving your website, you're always able to ensure your user experience represents the cutting-edge.
2. Create value in a tight sequence
Waiting two to four years between web design projects isn't really a "tight sequence." Before your next web design project, your site could be sorely out of date.
With monthly improvements, you can ensure that your site is always evolving, and you're continually working to offer more value to your ideal customers.
3. Get rid of activities that don't create value
Websites are simply too important to be a high-risk project. It's nerve-wracking to pour tens of thousands of dollars into a website that may or may not "work," by generating leads and customers.
By using GDD, you're able to significantly reduce risk. Instead of focusing on an overhaul, you can deliver what your customers need most, every single month.
4. Let your customers create value
GDD improvements are based on actual analytics and other data. Some organizations may choose to colelct website user feedback, through non-disruptive forms and other methods of measurement. By allowing your customer's real-time behaviors to dictate your website, you can achieve a truly customer-driven web experience.
5. Continually improve
A total website redesign every single month isn't practical. It's probably not valuable, either - drastic changes on a website can result in customer confusion. By focusing on the most important improvements each month, your site can continually work to exceed your inbound marketing metrics.
Your website is your most valuable marketing tool. It represents the face of your organization to your prospects, leads, and customers. By adopting a method of web design that's modeled after lean business principles, you can reduce your risk of a "flopped" web project, and deliver more value to your customers on a monthly basis.