As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
You don't want to invest thousands of dollars in a website that doesn't perform.
It's 2018, and if your website sucks, there's going to be several different options for your customers to turn to. If you're going to compete in 2018, and moving forward, your website has to hit home runs consistently. That means your design has to be sharp and appealing, and the message has to be crystal clear.
But, if you talk to 5 different design agencies, you will probably get five different recommendations on how a website of that caliber gets built. And, for that caliber, you're probably looking at a long design cycle, and a huge budget.
That doesn't have to be the case.
There is a better website design approach, and we adopted this approach several years ago. It's helped us to churn out better-performing websites, in less time, and without the exploding budgets. It's called Growth-Driven Design, and in this article, I'm going to make the case as to why it's the best website redesign process moving forward.
Best Website Redesign Process: GDD
Growth driven design takes an analytical, agile approach to web design. GDD focuses more on the customer's path to conversion through the website, and prioritizes functionality, ease, and strategy based on real customer data, rather than educated guesses.
The 7 Phases of Growth-Driven Design Process
Establish The Foundation [Strategy Phase]
For brands that need to consistently show the performance of their site, this is the most important step. Your overall marketing and sales goals will inform a lot of decisions for your site. To start, assess the current goals you have, and decide whether or not they're realistic. Depending on your needs, these website goals can include a certain number of average monthly visitors, customers, leads, or trial/demo sign-ups.
The second component of establishing that core foundation is with a robust buyer's journey. The better and more accurate your buyer journey is, the more effective your website will be.
Create + Map Customer-Centric Messaging [Prototype Phase]
On any website, there are certain website pages that carry more weight. These core website pages are crucial because they support the buyer's journey, and include the home page, pages that sell, content pillar pages, essential buyer journey pages, and legalese pages. For each page, there are certain criteria that should be met, such as a clear UVP, relevant imagery, a clear call-to-action, and more.
Then, plan out any personalization. If you're choosing to invest in smart website content, or any other personalization tools, start thinking through your approach now. Many brands are incorporating progressive profiling to capture more information about consumers, then using it to hyper-target them throughout the buyer's journey. So using smart calls-to-action, stage-specific offers, localization, and interactive content, you can deliver the right information to the right customers.
Once you have your content mapped out, you can plan out the structure of the pages. We use SprocketRocket modules to position and map out how the exact copy will appear on a page. This avoids a lengthy back and forth with copy and content edits due to headlines not fitting into a design, or copy needing to be trimmed because it won't fit into a module. We take care of the copy first to make sure it fits on the page and looks great.
Design The Site [Design Phase]
Once we get the messaging down, and prototype in SprocketRocket, we pass the pages to our designer to style. The designer can finish styling the pages around the content, and add in the calls to actions, and forms for various pages. HubSpot also has the option for you to either make your template, or to build pages utilizing their drag and drop builder.
During the design phase, there are a few best practices you should follow. To start, make sure your landing pages, CTAs, and forms all match your branding. Images need to be relevant to the subject matter, and videos need to buffer quickly. All pages need to be optimized for mobile and responsive, a feature included in most of HubSpot's templates.
You should also focus on your core pages first. By investing the most design time on key pages, you can use those pages to dictate the look and feel throughout the rest of the site.
Build The Site [Develop Phase]
Once you're done with the design, it's time to fill in the blanks. Add in all of your copy, CTAs, forms, and more. Consider conducting headline testing to ensure the effectiveness of your headers for key sections.
The goal is to build a site that's as close as it can be to launch-ready. It won't be perfect, but as long as it's QCed, optimized, and the core key pages are developed and launched, you can go back and add additional pages over time.
Finally, develop a performance plan. Before launching, make a plan for monitoring and tracking performance. Any additional tools, such as heat maps or site recordings, should be installed in time to report on initial findings.
Review/QC [Review Phase]
Before launching the site, get the right feedback from the right stakeholders at the right time. With HubSpot, you can set the not yet launched website to be in preview. That way, the site doesn't need to be live for them to look it over.
Then, make any last edits, and ensure that all of your meta descriptions, titles, etc., are filled out. Each should be unique to avoid duplicate content issues. There's a lot of items on any SEO checklist, but each plays an important role in the performance of your website.
Finally, run the site through a website quality check for broken links, spelling, grammar, etc.. Make sure any available offers can download, and browser test. It's also important to test and quality check pages in mobile as well, across all available browsers. Ensure the site loads quickly and effectively, forms can be filled out and submitted correctly, and everything is functional at each conversion point.
Launch The Site [Launch Phase]
After launch, get as much feedback as you can. Members of the company, customers, and industry peers can all provide insights about what's working, and what isn't. Consider one of the many tools out there that can gather feedback about your website. Many of these review and critique sites can provide unbiased, honest opinions.
When the site is live and running, also make sure any reporting or data tools you're using are functioning properly. Make sure Google Analytics is installed correctly and compiling information, for instance. You don't want to realize you're not collecting results two weeks in.
Optimize + Enhance [Optimize Phase]
Over time, it'll be crucial to have performance metrics for key pages. Using your insights, you can start creating hypotheses and making incremental changes. It's a best practice to do this continuously, in order to pick up on trends and patterns regarding customer response and engagement with your site.
An Agile Website Redesign Process
Growth driven design is an agile approach that goes beyond aesthetics. Rather than focusing on the look of your site, it takes the focus back to your goals. As a result, you'll get more ROI from your website, and have better tactics to monitor performance.
Marketing tools like HubSpot are crucial for getting the most from a GDD site, but they can also be expensive. However, to really build a site that can deliver top-notch performance, implementing HubSpot is an important investment. We feel so strongly about it, we put a pricing guide together to get started. In our savings guide, you can save up to 60% on HubSpot in your first year.
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