A lot of information has been circulating around the internet comparing the differences between the more traditional website design model and the more modern approach more affectionately known as Growth-Driven Design, or GDD.
But with so much weight resting on the shoulders of your company’s first impression (website) jumping right into the deep end of new and upcoming practices might not seem as easy a decision as marketing experts would like you to believe.
We get it, and there’s no blame being passed around.
So, where does that leave you and your business’s website?
Do you do what’s always been done? Or, is there a better way?
Don’t answer just yet. Instead, let’s take a step-by-step approach to exploring the current options on the market today, the potential benefits and pitfalls of each, and then you can have full power in deciding what makes the most sense for you.
Let’s get started.
Practically anyone and any business can go to sites like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress and create a website. Depending on the site, for anywhere between $30-$100, you can find pre-made themes and layouts just waiting for you once you sign up. But just because you can have a website up and running on the other side of a few clicks, doesn’t mean you can cross having a website off your list.
A great website is a great first impression. And a poor website can leave a poor taste in a web visitor’s mouth. With so many sites churning out old, irrelevant content, dead links, zombie pages, slow site speeds, and so much more to their visitors, is it really a wonder why the race for quality leads is diminishing?
Sure, while you could easily venture on the path of creating a website that gets you from idea to launch with a few mouse clicks, there are still heaps of information to consider before you can go from launch to success.
So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s explore the good, the bad, and the ugly of a non-customized website.
Quick and simple: A pre-made, non customized site can be purchased, installed, and configured immediately.
Code: Most templates’ HTML and CSS are generally compliant and up-to-date; however, this heavily depends on the theme you choose. If you’re hesitant or wary about ensuring your site has “clean code” - code that is easy to read and understand - stay away from free themes. We’ll further touch on the importance of clean code in a moment.
Budget friendly: If you have a basic understanding of a few web requirements, you can often find and install a theme for free. And, if you don’t have the basics down, you can hire a professional to install and configure (add logo, alter colors, install and setup widgets) your website for a nominal fee.
Lots of designs to choose from: The design world has adapted and changed. No longer are stock photos and heavy-handed graphics the basis in which you have to choose. Modern and clean designs are taking over and providing a lot of material to choose from.
Inflexible: Pre-made templates usually lock you into a specific design and configuration. When choosing a theme it’s important to make sure you are confident the site contains all the design elements you require (sidebars, header configurations, full-page width, etc)
Dirty code: Compared to it’s clean counterpart, bloated and dirty code makes it incredibly difficult for your site to be read by other developers or even yourself if you’re looking to infuse budget-friendly edits to your site. Also, when site speed matters to your Google ranking, it should be a high priority for your business to keep your site as lean and efficient as possible. The cleaner the code, the easier it is for Google to crawl and index your site, ultimately leading to higher search engine rankings.
Support: Receiving help on your pre-made theme is almost wholly dependent on whether or not the theme developer is available to help. As stated prior, many free themes contain dirty code for a variety of reasons: faster to launch, multiple developers working on a single theme, etc. There have even been instances where designers have disabled plugins in fear the updates will break elements of the site.
Security: Remember the dirty code, we mentioned? These can present themselves as extremely harmful security risks that can allow the author or hackers to infiltrate your site. No matter how you slice it, that means big trouble for you and your business.
If you’ve decided against a pre-made website, then the next option would be a custom site. Up until this point, if your company was in the market for a professional, custom website or website redesign, the method looked like the following:
This three-part process is often referred to as the “traditional method” and when each step is examined a bit more closely, it looks more like this.
Pay: The cost of a website can vary greatly. According to HubSpot, the average small to medium-sized business websites average anywhere between $15,000 to $80,000 up-front, and heavily depends on how in-depth, customized, feature-rich and responsive you’re looking for your site to be. But, here’s the big kicker. The traditional design method often requires you to pay an agency up front due to the large scope of the project, usually from the ground up, and doesn’t factor in one-off projects and necessities. These additions are rarely anticipated and can easily cause your company to go over budget.
Wait: Sitting on the sidelines as you see trends pass you by is far too often a symptom of the traditional website design or redesign process. With most traditional processes overhauling every aspect of a website, the time it takes to both acquire necessary assets and information, and obtain approval from key stakeholders, can take months and months. On average? 3-6 months. Once your website is launched, then the relationship you have with the agency usually ceases until the process is budgeted for and initiated, again, 2-3 years later.
Pray: Even after months and months of careful pre-planning, there’s a limit to both how much and how accurate you can forecast for the next 2-3 years. The traditional method relies too much on guesswork and predicted data that just hasn’t been produced and analyzed yet. So, most companies end up praying for the best.
If you’re looking to get the absolute highest return on investment with your website design/redesign, aligning this process with your inbound marketing strategy is crucial.
Not too sure what I mean? No worries. Let’s dissect this one just a little further.
As we stated prior, the traditional design process requires a large upfront cost. And, even if your company has done as much research as it could possibly fathom, there are still ebbs and flows that occur organically as buyer’s are guided along their respective journey.
For example, when constructing a house, you wouldn’t lay the foundation, build the framework, and then once you get to the roof, decide you need to tweak the foundation a bit more.
If well into the throws of the traditional design process, and you find yourself NEEDING to revisit the foundation of your “home” as attested by new data developments, you will undoubtedly encounter a huge increase in the amount of money being asked of you. Or the answer you receive will be a simple, yet disheartening, “no.”
However, to this point, the growth-driven design model bakes in the awareness for multiple iterations to occur. With a constant and watchful eye on real-time data throughout the design process, you can better understand conversion pathways, or roadblocks, as well as the buyer’s journey.
This inherent understanding from the beginning provides your company the security it needs to roll with the tide of the consumer, and to ensure the end product explicitly benefits your business’s objectives.
A quick launch allows you to get your website (a.k.a product) to market quickly, even if it’s not every page is complete. This short launch process allows us to understand what works, what doesn’t, and to make iterative, meaningful changes to your website in order to end at an optimized final product.
Growth-driven design’s agile processes ensure you are always checking and monitoring the performance of your website by keeping a close and watchful eye on real-time data. If an element doesn’t operate to full efficiency, capacity, or is determined to no longer be necessary, they can be changed, or even removed, quickly.
This agile approach to your website ensures your business is efficient, effective, and reputable with your clients and website visitors.
Now, for the moment we’ve all been waiting for.
What does the agile process within growth-driven design method actually look like? At Primitive, it looks a lot like this:
Discovery/ strategy meeting with client
In this meeting we capture as much information as possible about your business and the vision your company has for your future website.
→ Needs and business objectives
→ Wants and dreams
→ Priorities and expectations
→ What’s currently working on your website and what isn’t? Why?
→ Current technologies and capabilities
→ Is there relevant content on the website?
→ What integrations and functionalities does the website currently have?
In this stage we will build out wireframes and ensure page prototypes are firmly in place. Once we have drafted the initial creative elements of your website, we will maintain communication with key stakeholders to ensure we are constantly using real-time feedback as we inch toward your company’s ideal final design.
Development and strategy
This is when our team begins to take all of the client’s information and data, and begin to really strategize practical steps based on the client’s hierarchy of needs, or to use the analogy again, build a rock-solid foundation.
We set S.M.A.R.T goals, dive deep into user patterns and behavior, solve design issues, and connect with your website visitors and customers.
By the end of the second month with Primitive your business should be equipped with it’s first launch. The launch of your website at this time should look and perform better than the product you had, but it won’t be the end of our time together.
This launch will serve as the foundation in which we pursue real-time user data, and further continue the process of iterating your company’s website based on priorities and your business’ hierarchy of needs.
Continuous iterations and improvements
After the initial launch, we will continue to extract real-time data, along with real-time communication within your company, to identify the high-impact actions we can take that will directly impact the positive growth of your business.