I remember, about five years ago, when I worked at a well-known industrial manufacturing company, I was part of the team leading our corporate website redesign project. Here's how it went:
- The initial budget was set to xxx $ (eventually, we ended up with 40% less, a typical occurrence in these types of projects).
- We reached out to multiple web agencies in Switzerland, the United States, and the EU, requesting quotes.
- The quotes we received ranged from 60k to $1 million (insane, right?).
- Time to make a decision... (of course, we WELL ignored the insanely high quotes).
It took us SIX months of back-and-forth just to decide which agency to hire for the project. People were getting anxious due to the endless meetings this project created, and we were still ONLY in the kick-off phase after six months.
After finally deciding on the agency, it took us another THREE months of meetings, discussing features, must-haves, nice-to-haves, fancy haves, integrations, marketing team, sales team, management etc.
Only NINE months after the kick-off did the agency begin with the UX workshops, design workshops, and so on. Following the traditional web agency playbook, it took ANOTHER SIX months to receive the design elements, wireframes, and prototypes (and that's not even the website yet, it still needed to be developed). To make a long story short, it took us 18 months to launch the website.
Eighteen months! 😫
I learned a great deal from that project, especially about how complexity in traditional web design processes and agencies can make web design financially, timely, and resource pain in the a*s.
That's when I started researching and came across the Growth-Driven Web Design methodology, which addresses all these issues.
Since then, I've personally applied this methodology in many B2B SaaS projects, and believe me, I've seen the difference it makes in terms of $$$, resources, and time to go-live.
In today's blog post, I want to share more about this methodology with you and how you can apply it the next time you plan a website redesign (you'll thank me later). Let's dive in.
What Is Growth-Driven Design
Growth-Driven Design, or GDD, revolves around the idea that one website is never really finished; just like the customer needs, it’s continuously changing and evolving. Rather than going the old-school way - building the entire website and then leaving it untouched for a few years, GDD advocates for constant, small, gradual improvements.
GDD doesn’t rely on assumptions, guesswork, or subjective opinions; instead, it collects and analyzes real-time data from website visitors. This data includes metrics like user engagement, conversion rates, click-through rates, and user feedback, to name a few. Basically, by understanding how users interact with your website, your SaaS gains insights into users' preferences, pain points, and behavior patterns. This allows for data-driven decisions instead of relying on gut feelings or outdated market research.
Growth Driven Design vs. Traditional Design: Why is Traditional Web Design Broken
When you create a product, do you create everything in one go and launch it without any idea of how your customers might react to it? Do you just push it in a market, and hope for the best, knowing if everything doesn’t go as you plan, it will cost you a fair amount of money? Or do you first create a minimum viable product, do an extensive amount of testing and researching, provide different types of analysis, and then launch it?
For your sake, we hope it’s the latter, as the first one sounds like a recipe for disaster. But for some reason, this is exactly how traditional web design works. Companies spend months designing and developing their website, only to launch it with a big splash and then leave it untouched for years.
This process of building a website once every few years is flawed, outdated, and costly, both in terms of time and money. But for some reason, it has been accepted as the norm. However, with the rise of Growth Driven Design (GDD), traditional web design is slowly becoming a thing of the past.
So why exactly is traditional web design broken? Let’s take a look at some factors:
1. Decision Making
When you decide to take the traditional approach to design your website, all the decisions you make are based on assumptions and industry “best practices.” You might get lucky and get it right once in a while, but your assumptions don’t guarantee success, and those “best practices” oftentimes don’t apply specifically to your SaaS and aren’t entirely true. For years, the “best practice” was to implement carousel sliders or pop-up ads, and in the end, we concluded this just harms the user experience and conversion rates.
On the flip side, with the Growth-Driven design, all decisions are based on data, and the website is developed and designed for the user. GDD ensures there’s a good reason behind every decision made, and this reason is backed up by real-time data.
2. Creative Bubble
Traditional web design can take months, sometimes even years, to be completed. A lot of time, people working on it, developers, designers, marketers, etc, feel like they are trapped in a creative bubble. The industry changes at light speed, and by the time your website is launched, it's probably already outdated.
In contrast, GDD allows you to break the overall workload into small manageable chunks that give you an opportunity to always research new things, always collect new data, and always be able to come up with different ideas of how you can do things, avoiding the trap of a singular way of thinking.
3. Risk and Uncertainty
When you design and then redesign a traditional website, you’ll be faced with more risk than it needs to be. Large amounts of money, time, and effort are required for this project, and the worst part is you don’t even have a guarantee that it will work and have positive results. This is the main reason why traditional websites take so long to build.
Growth-driven design approach reduces uncertainty by breaking down the redesign process into smaller tasks. If something was not done right in one iteration, it's adjusted and improved in the next without affecting the whole project. This may seem counterintuitive, but it actually ends up saving resources in the long run.
The reality is that a growth-driven website will always beat a traditional website, no matter what approach you take. A slow, outdated, or poorly designed website will turn potential customers away, no matter how good your SaaS is. Make an effort to continuously improve your website to align with the updated buyer's journey, where decisions are made based on research and a company's online presence. This is what brings results and success.
The Challenges SaaS Companies Face
Let’s say that you have a cool SaaS that is new and innovative, and it doesn’t seem to have a lot of competition, at least not in the technology department. Yet somehow, that one competitor you have with fewer employees and with a solution that is not as good as yours is the one that is killing at trade shows, getting more website traffic, and attracting your target audience.
You probably don’t understand, and you might even feel devastated about how you spent so much time investing in your SaaS, but still, it’s your competition that takes center stage.
Well, in the end, it all comes down to design. You might have the brains, the tech, and the expertise, but their nice-looking designed website is the one that sells.
People often say they don’t judge a book by its cover, but we can’t change the fact that people are reactive to visual stimuli. Appealing designs draw us, make us click, and make us spend an extensive amount of time browsing through things we don’t even want or need.
A great SaaS design is one that communicates who you are from the very first glance. You don’t like to copy your competitors so that your customers are reminded of them. You want your customers to look at your company and say, “They might be worth talking to.”
Here are some of the benefits you can experience when you start implementing Growth-Driven Design:
Growth-Driven Design Benefits
1. User-Centric Approach
The number one key principle of growth-driven design is its main focus on customer experience. By collecting and analyzing data like time spent on the site, conversion rates, click-through rates, etc, you gain valuable insights into how visitors interact with your website. This information helps you identify any pain points, areas of friction, and opportunities and make the necessary changes for improvement in the user experience.
When you understand the needs and preferences of your target audience, you are able to create intuitive navigation, clear calls-to-action, and engaging content that resonates with your visitors. Another great thing about GDD is the opportunities that it gives you for website personalization, which only increases user satisfaction, and increased user satisfaction = increased likelihood of conversions and repeat visits.
2. Low Up-Front Investment
With GDD spending, it’s 50% cheaper than the traditional web design. Unlike traditional design, where it’s mandatory to have the full payment done before going “live,” with GDD, you’re able to manage the necessary funds in smaller doses. To put it more bluntly, rather than attempting to create a fully comprehensive website from the start, you prioritize the development of essential features and functionalities. And instead of investing a large sum upfront, you spread the investment over time as you continuously improve and expand your website based on user feedback and data insights.
This way, you can:
Make website development more accessible even when dealing with tighter budgets.
Establish an online presence without the occurrence of excessive financial strain.
- Save time and money by focusing on essential features and functionalities to ensure that your website is launched promptly.
Align your website design to your business goals.
- Allocate your resources more effectively.
3. Agility and Adaptability
Agility and adaptability are the two important traits every SaaS website needs to keep up with the constant change in market demands. Let’s say you just launched a new SaaS product, and you have a website where customers can sign up for a free trial. However, after analyzing user data, you found out that visitors are not converting into paying customers.
With traditional web design, this would mean going back to the drawing board and spending weeks or months on a complete redesign; with GDD, you can quickly make changes to the landing page by analyzing user feedback and data. For example, you can change the copy, layout, or call-to-action buttons and see if it has a positive impact on conversions. If it doesn't, you can simply revert back to the previous version and try something else. This approach saves time, money, and resources and continuously improves the website quality.
4. Customer Acquisition Tool
Before your buyers get to your website, they have their first contact with you through your paid ads, content marketing, search engine marketing, and even dark social. These channels are the ones that get your customers to your website, and once they get there, your design is the one that determines whether they will stay, engage, and ultimately enter the sales funnel.
When you focus on GDD, you increase your likelihood of getting high-quality leads and building long-term relationships with them. Considering that you have not only developed your website in a way that’s appealing, but also in a way that takes care of the whole buyer journey. This is achieved by providing quality information, building trust, and creating a nurturing environment.
This nurturing can take the form of blog content, case studies, whitepapers, webinars, and email campaigns, all coming from different touchpoints on your website. The better the user experience, the more likely they are to engage with your content and move further down the funnel.
Growth-Driven Design Success Story
Now that you know about all the great benefits GDD can bring to your SaaS, there are two ways to go about it. The first one is to team up with an agency that work with the Growth-Driven Web Design Methodology, and the second one is to do it yourself by using some templates, plugins, or contractors.
Even though the second choice might seem more appealing as it seems cheaper at first glance, it can end up costing you a lot more in the long run.
If you decide to go with the second option, the agency route option, just know it comes with its own set of considerations. When looking for a growth-driven design agency, find one that specializes in your industry and has a proven track record of success. Ask about their portfolio, services they cover, their communication approach, processes, and, finally, pricing models.
At A88Lab. we always try to achieve and deliver the best possible results for our clients. Being a HubSpot Partner Agency, we don't just do web design; we also integrate other marketing strategies to drive traffic and conversions.
The following graph shows the improvements in impressions and clicks after the website relaunch (shown by the red line):
The data here clearly shows the power of growth-driven design and the impact it can have on a company's online presence, visibility, and engagement metrics. Past the red line, you can see clear strategic changes and optimizations we implemented to continuously improve the website's performance.
The next example shows what it took to take a B2B SaaS platform from no ranking on Google to position 1 in the DACH region and page 1 position 3 in the US.
The website was up and running in 2 months, with continuous optimizations and iterations leading to... well, you see the results for yourself. :)
You have to view your website with the same eyes that you view your business; just as your SaaS grows, adjusts, evaluates, and changes, so must your website. In some way, treat it like a plant that needs continuous nurturing.
Traditional design has been dead for quite some time, and it doesn’t make any sense to continue practicing it; it’s like shooting yourself in your foot. As you can see, the benefits that the growth-driven design provides are numerous. By constantly learning from user feedback and data, GDD ensures that your website is always progressing towards better messaging, more effective calls to action, and overall conversion rate growth, which will ultimately lead to revenue growth as well. Embracing GDD isn’t just a smart choice; it’s a necessary one for SaaS companies looking to succeed in this saturated market.