Prophecies of Web Design: Part Three of Three


Website

THE PROPHECY FULFILLED: GENERATING RESULTS THROUGH WEB DESIGN

In the last two blogs of this series, The Website Prophecies Part One and Part Two, we talked about the history and the constant improvement of the website design. The days of “old” are not forgotten. We still design around your brand, define your site map, and make sure we have the correct target audience in mind. However, the focus for us has shifted. It’s about the user, not what your CEO or design team wants. The journey we want them to take on your site is based on research, data, and focused strategy. The path we want them to take and the questions we answer for them is based on data and research—educated guesses are now replaced with guided, informative intuition, and factual research. We call this Growth Driven Design. 

Growth Driven Design (GDD)

Though the term Growth Driven Design is fairly new, the concept is not. To break it down into simple terms, GDD focuses on the user by responding and changing based on user data, and not driven by the emotions and opinions of the individuals designing or developing the website.

GDD is built around a continuous cycle

Screen_Shot_2016-08-12_at_9.21.51_AM.pngWe make changes to a website first based on well-researched assumptions, and then on user feedback and data ongoing. We get the data through different avenues, like HubSpot, Google Analytics, and Hotjar. Once there is enough data to be considered significant, we analyze the data to recognize trends. We make a hypothesis based on those results.

For example, if we notice that users are having a difficult time finding a specific page, we hypothesize that by bringing that page out to the main navigation, we will see a 20 percent increase in visits to that page.

Once the hypothesis has been formed and agreed upon, the next step is to build out the solution. We put our hypothesis to the test by allowing the project to accumulate a significant amount of views and reviewing. From that, we are able to tell if our hypothesis was correct or not. Depending on the success or failure of the hypothesis, we can set our next course of action.

 

Still a little confused? Don't worry, you're not alone. Take a look at this slideshare to understand the workings of GDD:

 

GDD works hand-in-hand with the inbound marketing methodology 

GDD is the perfect companion to inbound marketing. Both look to the user to drive future decisions. By taking user trends into consideration, we are ensuring that all of the website content- from website pages to downloadable offers- is created specifically for your users. Both inbound marketing and GDD rely on several important components:

  1. Evaluate and set goals
  2. Assess your persona
  3. Define their path/journey
  4. Create content around their path
  5. Design to communicate and simplify

1. EVALUATING YOUR GOALS

BP-Blog-eval-goalsWhat the hell are you going to do with this thing when it’s built anyway? You don’t build a car to stick it in a field and you shouldn’t build a website to let it dissipate into the anonymity of the web. You built that car so you could drive it, travel places, transport objects and people, and ultimately have it take you where you want to go. Wherever you want your business to go, your website is a vehicle to get you there, but first you need to identify the ‘where.’

Goals bring focus.

You should not only want to be found online and communicate about your business, but you should also want increased traffic and returning visitors. Ideally, those returning visitors will become leads that one day become customers and then delighted evangelists of your brand. And not only that, but how many of each do you want? What is the return you are going to get on your time and investment? All of these things should be taken into consideration and documented to frame up and set the foundation for you website rebuild. This will come into play during the Strategy stage in GDD. 

For example, if we looked at your past analytics and saw you had an average of 500 visitors a month, we might set a goal of 1,000 visitors per month post site launch. We let this goal determine the alterations we make to the website. After all, the changes you would make to increase visits are going to be different than the changes you would make to improve a different metric. To increase visits to the website, you may focus on optimizing each page so that more people can find you. If you wanted to increase the conversion rate of visitors to leads, you might focus more on the specific content needs of your user.

Once we hit the set goal, we can focus on the next step. For example, you might start with increasing your visits because first, you need visitors before you can begin to accumulate leads. Once you've hit your goal for visitors, you can begin looking at efforts that would improve the visitor-to-lead conversion rate. The fact of the matter is that you can't do it all at once. You have to allow these changes to be made in small doses to accurately asses user data. 

 

 2. ASSESSING YOUR PERSONA (AKA: YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE)

BP-Blog-target-audienceNow that you know what you want to do, you need to know who you are trying to do it for. If you’re trying to talk to everyone, then you’re really not talking to anyone. Being everything to everyone is not possible. Let that mentality go. Okay, now think about your true brand believers and the people who push your company forward. That’s who you want to talk to. By focusing in on them, you can bring focus to your content and simplify your messaging.

The single most important part of GDD is its focus on the user. During the Strategy stage, and on-going, we are always looking to get inside the user's head. By identifying their triggers (online and offline), we are able to serve them the experience they need in order to take the next step in their buyer's journey. Visitors come to your website looking to have a question answered. Just look at your own search queries—what were you trying to accomplish? Chances are that if it wasn’t for personal entertainment, you were looking for an answer to a question. 

BP-Blog-persona

By evaluating who is coming to your site, you can start to research their needs, questions, pain points, and desires. Try to discover how they live, work, and feel so that when they stumble upon your site you can speak to them on their terms.

Whether or not you are planning on doing inbound marketing or GDD in your future, or using software like HubSpot, the most important aspect of your web design is identifying your persona(s). However, actually creating a detailed persona and integrating it into your online marketing strategy is even more powerful. 

 To learn more about how we create a persona, read this blog. 

 

3. DEFINING YOUR PERSONA’S JOURNEY

BP-Blog-persona_journeyOkay, so we know that defining your persona is important, but actions speak louder than words. The next step is to take that persona and make your website a comprehensive journey designed to serve your prospects. Arranging content with your persona in mind allows the most important aspects of your business to come forward.

Your prospects are coming to your website to have a question answered. By keeping the persona in mind, you can supply those answers as quickly and clearly as possible, which allows the user to move on to the next step. Remember, the goal is to convert visitors into leads. In order to do that, you have to give them the opportunity to take the next step towards becoming that lead. We incorporate this technique into all of our website designs. An example of this is what we did for our client, Star.

Star is a creative firm that designs, executes, and builds experiences for stores, exhibits, tradeshows, and more. By studying their targeted persona, we recognized that their prospects typically want to see Star’s portfolio first. Once they are able to confirm that Star provides the type of service that they are looking for, the prospect then wants to see who they will be working with, and lastly they want to see proof that Star’s work works before contacting a rep. We arranged the website content to lead the user through all of these steps, answering each question as it came up.

BP-Blog-Star

Long story short, sometimes you have to offer your users a hand to hold. Guiding your prospects through the site is a powerful way to communicate the most important things that they need to know – when they need to know it - without boring them with the details. Growth Driven Design plays a huge role in optimizing this user path. We start out with assumptions about how the user travels through a website, and by anyalizing the data we are able to make small adjustments to improve that experiance. 

  

4. CREATE CONTENT AROUND THEIR PATH

BP-Blog-content_pathIn order to design your website around your persona, the content has to be strongly aligned with answering questions the persona has. Every headline, sub headline, button, and block of content matters. These are all opportunities to keep your prospect engaged, and serve them the knowledge that they seek at a comfortable pace. This is your value proposition.

For example, what if a visitor wants to know what types of products you have, and the first thing they see is that you’ve been around for 50 years? Sure, your history is important, it has shaped who you are as a company - but do you think that is what matters most to a prospect? Probably not. Don’t make them dig to find the most important thing!

It can go the other way too. Maybe you know what your persona’s end goal is and you want to give it to them right away. Maybe your persona typically wants a free trial of your services. Even though this is the end goal, it shouldn’t necessarily be the first thing a website visitor sees. After all, why would they sign up for a free trial before they even know who you are and what you do? They haven’t come to trust you yet. It’s too soon.

By asking, “What value am I providing?” at every step, you can provide clarity with perfect timing. Google talks about this phenomenon in what they call ‘Micro Moments.’ By creating a map of your persona’s journey, you are able deliver the right content at the right time, optimize that content for the highest exposure, and measure every aspect to prove that it’s working.

 

 5. DESIGN TO COMMUNICATE AND SIMPLIFY

BP-Blog-design-to-communicateBringing simplicity and clarity to your website is vitally important. It allows those messages -that value proposition- to stand out and be easily communicated. There is a saying that we designers know well, “If everything is bold, then nothing is bold.” If you try to shove everything you do in front of your prospect at once, they won’t be able to detangle the mess and find answers to their questions or problems. Gone are the days when everything had to be ‘above the fold.’ Your website is not a newspaper stuck in a kiosk dispenser with a small, dirty window. Your website is an opportunity for a user to interact and navigate at their own pace.

There are many ways to bring simplicity to your website. Here are a few:

  • White Space: White space is the breathing room around your content. And no, it’s not always white. White space is important because it allows your users a chance to give their eyes a break. It also brings focus to the most important messages you want to communicate.
  • Images: Images are an incredible thing. A picture really is worth a thousand words. You don’t need to spell everything out for your website visitors. Many times a photo will do a much better job. From images of products to photos of people conveying emotion, images can be the most powerful part of a website. 
  • Formatting: Formatting is important, and it applies to all aspects of your website. From the spacing of the text blocks, to the distance between an image and a paragraph, formatting determines how easy it is to read and understand your website. 
  • Consumable content: Focus on giving your visitors one message at a time. By utilizing all the above tactics, you can give your prospects the answers they seek in easy-to-digest bits. People don’t mind scrolling; you don’t need to shove everything up close to the top of the website.

BP-Blog-marco_now_thenA good example for designing with simplicity in mind is the Marco website redesign. On their old site, there was a LOT of content at first glance. Through research and data, we were able to determine that certain elements –like the homepage rotator- were not working. By following the GDD methodology, we knew that small changes had to be made to improve the user experience. We made an effort to minimize the amount of stuff we had on each page and instead focused on addressing one or two questions per page. We were able to identify the places that visitors needed to go in order to move on to becoming a lead, so we made it really easy to access those highly trafficked pages.

All in all, don’t overwhelm your visitors. Your website should not be an explosion of information, impossible to dissect. Your website should be a tool for them to use at their own pace. Most importantly, don’t leave the arrangement of content up to guesswork. Designing a website isn’t about gut feeling, guessing, and giving the client exactly what they want. You can use data to determine where certain content should be placed on the website. It’s 2015. We can do that now.

YOUR WANTS VS. YOUR NEEDS

Every person has a set of opinions and emotions that are derived from their individual experience. When you gather a group together to work on a website redesign, often each of these individual experiences set the tone and direction for the website. Each person responsible for the website redesign, from the website designer to the CEO, is applying their own assumptions to the website. This often overwhelms the needs of the actual users. 

Through the Growth Driven Design process, we begin to cater exclusively to the users. Always keeping them in mind by based our actions on their feedback and data. This is the single best way to lead website visitors to becoming customers. 

We believe that it’s our job to look beyond where you want to go. You want a website to tell your story, we give you a website that attracts visitors. You want to post a PDF of your process, we make that PDF into a downloadable offer and make it generate leads. You want to send a eNewsletter talking about your company, we give you an email marketing campaign to position you as a thought leader.

Whatever it is you think you need or want from your website, you always have to take a step back and keep the user in mind. Only then will you turn your own ideas, dreams, and prophecies into reality.

 

 

Learn more about the benefits of Growth Driven Design:

 

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