The Growth-Driven Design strategy phase – why is it important for website success?
In our recent article ‘What is Growth-Driven Design?’ we delved into the overall methodology to provide insight into this new way of website design and development. In this article, we are going to focus on the strategy phase, which is the first step of Growth-Driven Design (GDD), to show you exactly what is included, and why it is fundamental to the whole concept.
Growth-Driven Design strategy phase purpose
The purpose of the Growth-Driven Design strategy phase is to develop an empathetic understanding of your audience’s world and how your website can solve problems along their journey.
This allows you to start the subsequent launch phase and continuous improvement phase, armed with data-backed insights to base your decisions on. Therefore, removing the element of risk associated with the traditional website development process.
What is included in the strategy phase?
The Growth-Driven Design strategy phase breaks down into 9 steps. However, depending upon your business situation, the data you already have, and what you are looking to achieve from your website project, some steps you may have already taken.
Although this is a guide, the strategy phase is fundamental to providing a solid foundation for the Growth-Driven Design concept. It is vital that you gather this information and go into the launch pad phase with a wish list and plan that is data-driven, and not based on assumptions.
Step 1. Business strategy & website goals
Ultimately, the website is a business asset, and if created and developed in the right way, it can play an integral part in supporting your organisation’s growth.
To do this, it is important to use the business strategy to develop a clear understanding of the business objectives you aim to achieve through the website. From understanding this, you can create the website goals, which are the overarching goals that will drive your project.
Step 2. Jobs to be done
This allows you to understand exactly what your user is hoping to achieve when they land on your website. What problem are they looking to solve? What pain are they hoping to alleviate? What progress are they trying to make? Once you understand the ‘job to be done’ I.e., what they are trying to achieve by working with your business, you can use this to develop your website to better support them in achieving this.
Step 3. Buyer personas
These are fictional representatives of your ideal customer with detail on their motivations, demographics, likes, dislikes, and much more. Buyer personas can be simple or incredibly detailed, depending upon your business. They help you understand your users, what motivates them, and how you can better target them. For more information on buyer personas, there is a great article from HubSpot which you can view here.
Step 4. User journey mapping
This is a holistic view of your persona’s journey to complete their job to be done (as highlighted above) with your company. This includes all steps, with or without your company that they take throughout the entire buying journey.
Step 5. Website strategy
This allows you to review the existing website to understand what elements need to be included in the launch pad phase and in what priority. The areas identified to be included in the launch pad phase, should all align with your business and website goals, and support your buyer persona in achieving their job to be done with your business.
The website strategy step includes:
- Website audit – To understand the opportunities and weaknesses of your current website and to set benchmarks for the launch pad phase.
- Competitive analysis & positioning – To understand your competitor’s offering and where you are positioned in the marketplace.
- Internal website analysis – To understand how each department in the company uses the current website. Are there any specific functionalities or content in the current site that need to be kept? Or any new functionalities or content needed?
- User flow & web architecture – This highlights any opportunities to improve the user flow on the website, and any improvements to the menu structure, usability, and user interface.
- SEO strategy – This includes looking at all of the SEO elements including on-page SEO, off-page SEO, technical setup, content, keywords, social linking, backlinks, and domain authority.
- Branding & visual design – Does this need to be updated? Is the visual design appealing to your target persona? Is it designed with accessibility in mind? Is it mobile optimised?
- Integrations & technical – To review your current integrations to see if they need to be mirrored in your new website. Are there new integrations that need to be considered? Do you have any specific technical requirements from the website?
Step 6. Fundamental assumptions
These uncover the core components of the website that need to be included in the launch pad phase. These are simply assumptions at this step. Once identified, it will allow you to validate any risky or unknown assumptions that are not backed up by the research in your previous steps. This can be done through user research and testing.
Step 7. User experience research
UX research can be carried out in several ways; in-person, online or phone interviews, group user research, observational, and behavioural research. The choice of research methods will largely be based on the information you are looking to gather and how detailed it is, your target audience, your budget, and timescales for the research.
Step 8. Review of current tools
It is essential to analyse the tools you are currently using for your website, to understand if they are appropriate for your launch pad phase, or whether you need to invest in new ones.
Tools to consider include:
- Content Management System (CMS) – the system you use to build and develop your existing website. Questions to consider: Is this still fit for purpose? Does it offer the functionality you need? Do you need to edit internally? Can you do that with your current system? Can you easily plug-in additional systems? What is the cost and reliability?
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system – where you store your customer and prospect data. Questions to consider: Is it easy to use? Does it offer the functionality needed? Is the cost acceptable? Does it allow for marketing automation? Does it link to your CMS system?
- Data insights tools – that allow you to delve into your website and user data. These could include free tools such as Google Analytics and paid for. Questions to consider: What tools do you have? Are they appropriate? What data can you capture from each and collectively? Are there any gaps in your data from these tools? Are the tools set up correctly to provide the full amount of data available?
- Marketing tools – that allow you to communicate to your customers and prospects. Questions to consider: Do you have a system to do this or multiple? Are you getting the functionality you need? Are there gaps? Does it integrate with your CMS and CRM systems? Cost to the business. Are the tools being utilised fully?
Step 9. Website strategy workshop
This is where you bring all the research and insights together from the previous steps, to brainstorm your wish list of game-changing ideas that will solve the user challenges, bring value to them, and achieve your business and website goals.
This is where you will decide your launch pad acceleration method. Will you develop your existing website or create a new one? You will create your list of prioritised actions and strategy, to be used in the next phase of the GDD process – The Launch Pad Phase.
As you can see, the strategy phase is crucial to give you a solid foundation of data-driven insights to base your website development on. Once you have completed the Growth-Driven Design strategy phase, you will have a clear plan to guide you in the next phase of the methodology – the launch pad phase where you will create your new, or develop your existing website.