Sometimes, business people think of their website as an ornament or an accessory. Everyone else seems to have one, so they decide to get one too.
They build the website—or they hire someone like us to build it—and once they have gone through it with a fine-tooth comb and analyzed all the minute details to make sure it is absolutely perfect, they take it "live." The average length of one of these website build projects is about 12-16 weeks, though sometimes it can last much, much longer.
After the site languishes on the internet for a year or two or five, these business owners might decide to update it. So they start from scratch (trends and user behaviors change a lot in half a decade). They throw away the old and start the whole 12-16 week process over. The new site goes live again and and sits for another stretch of time. And then the process starts all over again.
As you may have sensed already, there are some major problems with this approach to web design. Here are some things you should know about your website and what it means for your business.
All Marketing Starts/Stops with Your Website
Your business website isn’t just an accessory. It’s one of the most important tools in your toolkit.
Now, some readers may be thinking, “Wait a second, we don’t use our site for that much. It’s just a couple of pages that give visitors some basic info on our business.”
Certainly, a website will mean more to some businesses than to others. But here’s the thing: These days, if people can’t find info about you online, it’s almost like you don’t exist.
Even if you don’t sell anything through your site, it still lies at the heart of your overall marketing efforts. And if you must change your site to help meet your marketing goals, you need to make those changes as soon as possible. Which brings us to…
Traditional Web Design v. Growth-Driven Design
As we hinted at above, the traditional approach to web design has some serious flaws:
It takes longer and usually goes over budget
It focuses on what owners like over what customers want
It doesn’t include plans for ongoing improvements
It doesn’t allow you to respond quickly to trends like mobile responsiveness (i.e. changing your site’s appearance to fit tablet and mobile phone screens)
In our experience, there’s a better approach. It’s called Growth-Driven Design or Website Optimization:
It is NOT the same as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However, it covers SEO by fine-tuning your site’s content so you have a better shot at showing up in search engine results.
It centers on your marketing goals and makes sure that your website and other marketing efforts help you reach them.
It focuses on empathizing with your site’s users. You work on understanding who they are and what they want.
3 Steps of G.D.D./Website Optimization
Growth-Driven Design/Website Optimization has three steps:
You gain an empathetic understanding of your users and determine what they want your site to do for them.
2) Launch Pad Website
You build your site so that it meets your users’ core needs. No fussing over bells and whistles—you just set up the bare necessities. Any extra stuff you’d like the site to have can go onto a wish list.
3) Ongoing Improvements
Once your site goes live, you analyze how people actually use it on a regular basis. Next, you can make changes to your site based on that documented user behavior. This is also the stage in which you can begin implementing your wish list items as priority and budget allows.
Doing It Right
Optimizing your website isn’t a one-shot deal—it’s a continuous process. Develop a strategy, build a launch pad website accordingly, collect data and then make improvements (based on that data) as you go.
Ben joined the Tribute team in 2014. He holds a B.A. in English from UC Santa Barbara. In addition to writing content for Tribute Media, he is a regular freelance contributor to *Boise Weekly’s* music section.