When you’re designing a new website, whether a client or an agency, you want to see results quickly. Despite this urgency, website projects seem to drag on forever, with sites often being delivered weeks or months late. At Napier we’ve done pretty well at hitting our deadlines for past projects, but the average website redesign still takes several weeks and the process is so painful that often the site receives very little attention for months after the new design is launched.

Now some people have decided enough is enough. Building on “lean” concepts, there is a real movement towards Growth Driven Design (GDD) as a way of getting website projects to deliver impactful changes in very short periods of time. Although many people are jumping n the GDD bandwagon, it is a concept that was pioneered by HubSpot, and as HubSpot Partners we felt obligated to try it out.

Growth Driven Design fits perfectly with Napier’s philosophy. We’re all about helping clients increase the speed that their prospects move from awareness to opportunity, something we achieve this by focusing on what’s important, stripping out the irrelevant and then reviewing performance to ensure the campaigns are continually optimized. GDD is very similar – create your minimum viable product and then keep iterating to optimise the performance of the site based on metrics tied to your marketing funnel.

Our Experience of Growth Driven Design

The conventional route of building a site, getting it as close to perfect as you can, and only then launching it can be comforting. Even though there are a few nerves, when the site goes live you’re pretty confident that it will work and there will be few, if any problems.

GDD is different. Just get the new site up and fix any issues later. At the start it was terrifying: past experience meant that I knew you couldn’t launch that quickly without having a few problems. So we put ourselves under huge pressure: we committed to get the site up in less than one week (we picked a week where the Monday was a public holiday, and committed to launch by close of business on Friday). I may have even said we’d get it done in a day, although we all smiled a little bit at that optimism.

Our project involved quite a lot of work. We committed to a new look and feel, including removing things like the sidebar completely (we’d already found that people weren’t clicking on the sidebar). We also wanted to create a new home page, new menus, change the hosting service, do SEO work on a bunch of our key pages and refine the messaging that we use to describe Napier. With a team of just four, and the inevitable client projects that couldn’t be delayed, we didn’t have a huge amount of resource to make it happen.

Very quickly the GDD approach became liberating. There was no way to meet the timescale without stripping out all the unimportant “work” and focusing on the things that were the critical success factors for the project. Our favourite bucket in the project kanban board was the one called “Ideas for the Future”, which meant we were able to crack on with the development work that really mattered.

On Friday, after a fairly hectic and stressful few days, we switched over to the new site. It wasn’t perfect, but it was very close. We got a great response to the new design and messaging, and our leads and landing page conversions have already improved significantly. We addressed the performance issues that we were experiencing by moving to a new hosting service, and now have a site that loads much faster (almost an order of magnitude improvement in time to first byte). Although there were a few problems, most of the things we corrected after launch wouldn’t have even been visible to visitors.

GDD – An Ongoing Process

Growth Driven Design is an ongoing process. There’s lots of things we want to look at and improve. Whether it’s the graphics and layout of some of the pages, or the order of content on the home page, we’ll be tweaking the site for some time to come. And that’s the point of GDD: websites are living channels, and they should be continually improved, rather than left for a couple of years until the next major redesign. Having spent just four days to create a new site, we’ve got none of the burnout associated with traditional websites, and are full of enthusiasm to use analytics to make data-driven changes that improve the performance of the site.

Thanks to the Team

Of course this project could not have been successful without the huge effort put in by the website team. Particular thanks go to Diana, our digital marketing manager and WordPress guru, Sophie, the SEO and content queen and Rob whose design work was responsible for the fabulous look of the new site. Thanks to the team and everyone else for putting up with our diva-ish stress during the first GDD project Napier has undertaken.