Website Revamp vs. Growth Driven Design: Which Is Smarter?
Do you remember the days when websites often featured guestbooks? Or when loud, flashing animations were considered state-of-the-art Internet technology? Or when companies often choose bright, solid background colors, or worse, patterns for their pages?
Traditional Website Redesign vs. Growth Driven Design
Memories of the early days of web design illustrate just how far web technologies have come in the past decade. In an era where 3.17 billion people use the internet on a regular basis, expectations of a positive user experience (UX) are on the rise. Exactly what constitutes good UX is rapidly changing. Consider the following statistics:
Once your page loads, users form an opinion in .05 seconds. — Kinesis
40% of people will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. — Econsultancy
90% of people engage with multiple screens simultaneously or sequentially. - uberflip uberflip
If your website is hopelessly out-of-date or isn't your best marketing tool, a redesign is probably in order. However, to avoid a massive investment that looks dated in 6-24 months, your brand may need to consider growth driven design.
Brand websites are subject to continual improvements, based on actual user data and feedback. Companies can continuously formulate, prioritize, and apply website updates based on data-driven analysis of their brand's needs.
GDD is the practice of treating your website like the MVP of your marketing team. You continually invest in improvements to meet the ever-changing needs of modern consumers.
GDD consists of two main parts:
A LaunchPad Website
Monthly Site Review and Refinement
Typically, GDD takes place on a six-month cycle. Think of this as a website manager's journey towards optimization. A client's inbound marketing and GDD needs can vary drastically according to many factors, including the brand's level of establishment, monthly website visitors, and their buyer personas. These factors can all dictate areas of focus for each month of a GDD initiative.
What To Expect From Your New LaunchPad Website
In many cases, GDD begins with a LaunchPad website. These sites are typically built in 4-8 weeks. They're not spun up from scratch or a pre-packaged theme, but well-tested building blocks derived from a library of successful patterns.
With a LaunchPad site, you're not reinventing the wheel, but you're still getting a fresh start. You're able to launch in half the time and half the cost as you would with a more traditional site revamp. These sites are typically around 80% complete, despite the fact you've only invested 50% of the cost of a traditional website revamp.
The benefit of this option? You're able to go live much faster. Your monthly GDD improvements will easily resolve the 20% of your site that's missing when your LaunchPad goes live (and then some). It's called a "LaunchPad" for a reason. It's not quite complete, but it has everything you need to start converting inbound leads immediately.
Comparatively, How is a Traditional Website Revamp Different?
A traditional (and complete) website redesign is different as it's a holistic reconsideration of brand strategy, site strategy, brand direction, sales process, content, and marketing. Strong brands rarely re-design their website. Why? They are not fundamentally changing their brand strategy, site strategy, sales process, etc. Instead, they're constantly re-aligning their website through the principles of Growth Driven Design. But if your website is NOT working, and it's time for a big change, a complete website revamp may be the way to chart that new direction and then build it in a robust way.
Even though we're evangelists of GDD at Lean Labs, we understand there's a place for GDD and a place for traditional website redesign projects.
Some companies need a LaunchPad website built for less than $20,000 in 4-8 weeks. Other companies need a complete website redesign that costs between $25,000 - $50,000, and can wait 3-5 months for the final product. Regardless of what category you're in, there's a few key points to understand:
#1) ANY New Website is Just a Hypothesis
Whether your team works towards a LaunchPad site or a full redesign, the result is the same. It's a hypothesis of what your creative team thinks will work. At this point, you haven't integrated the following key types of user data to refine your hypothesis:
A/B, or split, testing to optimize for conversions
Optimization for page load times and mobile performance
Content, navigation, and user flow optimization for engagement
At the time of launch, you don't have the insights to conclude that what you've built is what will work best. The only way to optimize your performance is to apply improvements on a regular basis. Agile marketers review metrics, implement changes, and continue to refine their hypotheses.
The only way to optimize your site's user experience is to apply the right improvements on a regular basis. The leading brands often focus less on site redesign and push their website budgets towards continuous improvement. When you're able to achieve a cycle of data-driven improvements, based on your user's behavioral insights? That's absolutely where the magic happens.
#2) Neither LaunchPad Sites or Website Revamps are Right for Everyone
The trick is to understand your brand's existing marketing needs to find the right solution. You clearly want to improve your brand experience within budget. Evaluating your options is a matter of finding the right combination of design and growth driven strategy.
But Wait. Should I Go for GDD or a Site Revamp?
Here are some key factors to consider if you're trying to understand whether you're a better candidate for GDD or a site revamp:
1. Do I need to quickly increase traffic and leads AND redesign my website?
Are you budget-restricted? Do you need more traffic and leads quickly? If you answered "yes" to one or both of these questions, GDD is probably the way to go. For budget-restricted brands who need more leads and sales, GDD can offer the following benefits:
You'll launch in half the time
You'll spend half the money before the initial launch
You'll be able to direct budget towards effective marketing
If you choose GDD, you'll have marketing results to show your boss three months after your LaunchPad site goes live. If you choose a traditional revamp, in three months you'd have a website that's 75% complete and no marketing accomplishments at all.
2. Do I have some existing marketing momentum, despite my out-of-date website?
Are you an established brand with a dated website? Are you already receiving at least 10,000 website visitors each month without excessive paid advertising, including PPC and SEM? If you're in these shoes, a redesign might be the right choice for your brand. This allows you to focus on understanding your buyer's journey, your brand's overall strategy, engaging your prospects and customers, and other high-level details of effective inbound marketing.
After six months, you'll have launched a strikingly modern revamp of your current website, which you can refine over time. If you picked GDD, you'd be able to launch sooner, but you'd spend a lot more time revising major components of your website. With GDD, you'd be able to consider the high-level details of an engagement strategy slowly. With a revamp, you'll select those strategies during the first 4-6 weeks of your redesign project.
Simply put, website design and optimization isn't a one-size-fits-all journey. There are well-established brands with great marketing who need to rebuild a dated website into a best-of-class solution from the ground up, and these organizations might find that a revamp is the right choice.
Companies who need website and marketing help often find that a LaunchPad website and GDD is a better choice for improving their results in just 4-8 weeks. When the LaunchPad goes live, they know they're 80% to the finish line, and can focus on generating impressive marketing results quickly.
What's the most important thing to know about investing in a website project?
We have one key recommendation, regardless of whether you choose GDD or a total redesign.
Remember: Don't just launch your site, sit back, and watch it atrophy for the next two years.
Far too many marketers perform zero or very few updates on their websites after launch, which will inevitably create a need for another total redesign. You'll find yourself in the same position you're in currently, which is a website that's not positioned to keep up with consumer's fast-changing preferences.
Regardless of whether you opt for GDD or a total revamp, modern marketing teams must commit to making their website their MVP. Your company's site should be your best marketer and your best salesperson. Effective websites are a significant investment, and you must nurture them with continual improvements. Growth driven design is one way to create a culture of continual improvement.
Jasmine W. Gordon is a copywriter at Lean Labs. She's written for digital audiences for over 5 years, and her background includes agencies, tech startups, health care, big data analytics, energy, and more. Jasmine loves new marketing statistics, optimization studies, and live music.