The biggest benefit of websites over printed material is they are not fixed at the point of publication. They can be adjusted in line with the needs of a business, and more importantly, its customers. In fact, most value comes when your website is constantly evolving.
The Web Development Monster
However, major website design projects tend to become mammoth tasks, taking over the lives of your marketing department for months until everyone has decided what’s needed, gathered it together and agreed on the preferred options. By that time, what’s needed has almost certainly changed and it can seem like a never-ending project just trying to reach final sign-off.
GDD to the Rescue
If you’ve ever been there, you will be pleased to know that there is a better way! It’s called Growth Driven Design (GDD) and it harnesses the benefits of the web, including the ease of making changes and the ability to gather data and feedback quickly.
How it Works
You start with a “bare essentials” website and improve it based on how it performs. For most businesses performance will be measured by the number and quality of sales leads.
You can change page layouts based on what users are doing on the page, and you add content and other elements to improve the ability of the website to achieve your aims. You can also test changes easily to help make informed decisions.
It is worth noting that the initial website isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. For a new, small business the launch site might only have 10 pages, while an established business with an existing website might have many more. The key is that the website will evolve; it’s not finished when it goes live.
The Planning Stage
Producing a minimal site is not as easy as it sounds and involves a ruthless approach. Put aside vanity and egos and look at your potential customers. Who are they, what problems are they experiencing and what information do they need? Start with that.
Then clarify your own objectives. What do you want the website to achieve? What do you want website visitors to do?
Don’t skip the planning phase, as, done properly, it will make the rest of the process much easier.
What Happens Next
The first version of your new website should be live within a month or two of starting the project. It may take longer but everyone should be focused on as early a go live date as possible. This will be the basis for the rest of the development. While your team gathers the content for the next batch of pages, your analytics programme and your sales team are collecting the data and the feedback required to add, improve, refine, test and change. In this way you end up with an evolving website which may not be the website you thought you wanted, but will be the website you need.
Julie Mitchell-Mehta is a Chartered Marketer at Red Evolution, an Aberdeen based Inbound Marketing Agency that uses marketing, design, development, content and SEO skills to help businesses thrive online.