Most ideas evolve gradually over time. Take automobiles, for example. Henry Ford’s Model T evolved from what he thought people wanted. As they came on board, he developed the concept further. He evolved as he went along, because business is the survival of the fittest.
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH GROWTH DRIVEN
Put differently, businesses whose benefits suit customer requirements best are the ones that keep going.
Most companies work this way, with traditional web design the odd one out. Traditional web designers build all-singing-and dancing websites. Then two years later, they smash them up and start all over again. They have a great time doing this because it satisfies their creative urges. The poor customer keeps forking out as they chase latest trends.
Do you remember the first soapbox car you built with your gang of kids when you were little? It was a simple affair, wasn’t it, just a fruit box on a frame with wheels. As you grew bigger, so did the box. And when you started racing, you needed better wheels. And so on, and so on. But, you only ever built one soap box racer and you saved a great deal of money in the process.
Stop Reinventing Web Design Every Two Years
With growth driven web design, you could only build one evolving website ever. And this should save you a great deal of money too. Would you agree it is time to stop reinventing websites every two years, with questionable results? Imagine having a website that grows organically with your business. That you could trim and fly higher like an eagle soaring in the thermals. The same way you tune your products in an adaptive response to change.
Why Traditional Web Design Is So Yesterday
If you have already decided to go for growth driven design, we do have to apply the brakes for a moment. We need you to understand the traditional web design approach too. That way, when you reach your decision, you make a rational choice. Three assumptions underwrite the traditional method. These traditions are:
- That we know the target well enough to be able to imagine what they want
- That we can design a static website that will attract traffic for two years
- That these two assumptions will continue to be correct for the entire period
Of course, there are entities for which these assumptions are true. We can think of government departments, for example, and universities and large foundations too. Their business model is stable. Moreover, they have a captive audience that has to come to them. In this case, we could probably design a more static site that would attract traffic for a decade. However, it would not actually be attracting anybody. It would simply be receiving them when they arrive.
With the possible exception of semi-monopolistic corporates, it becomes increasingly difficult to imagine how any business could function that way. Even companies like Microsoft and Kentucky Fried Chicken have taken the growth driven path. They have to. Their competition is constantly nipping at their heels. They must keep evolving despite their apparent cast-iron grip on their markets.
The Traditional Way of Ordering Static Websites
A decade ago, most commercial websites were there ‘just in case’. There were no webstores. The user sent an inquiry and then people working in offices took over. Thus, it made sense to cast a website in stone for a few years. Besides, technology was evolving so quickly that it would be out of date by then, and need a rebuild per the following procedure.
First, a company team, headed by sales or information technology would meet to plan the website. They assume their target niche would want their product once they knew about it. Then the ‘people in sales’ would take over and convert the leads over the phone. They brainstorm excitedly about the main tabs, but end up playing safe with the usual About Us, FAQ’s, and Contact Us pages.
Then, they set a three-month deadline, appoint a web designer someone knew, and hope for the best. Now if we launched a new automobile this way, albeit with a longer deadline, we would probably end up in a similar situation with the following:
- A one-size fits all, take it or leave it design that’s already out of date
- An up-front cost that rocketed above budget as they tried to fix this
- A project with a scope running out of control, and guaranteed to be late
- They neither love nor hate the result, at best an ‘also ran’ grey mare
There is no after-project celebration. The team fails to understand how their buyer’s purchasing process worked. They just assume they would stop, look, and buy as if they were in Walmart. Moreover, the accountant tells them they are stuck with what they have for two years because they overspent. Regardless of how the world changes around them, they have to stand still.
Much like traditional marketing tactics, traditional web design is more an obstacle than a stepping stone in the buyer’s journey.
A Sanguine Reminder of Ford Junior’s Automobile Edsel
Anyone that names a product after themselves is either very foolish, or very confident, or both. Edsel B. Ford was bored with being in the shadow of his father Henry. He disagreed with what his father said, because he, Edsel, knew what people wanted. Unfortunately, the people did not want an overpriced, unattractive car that did not live up to the hype. If only Ford had tested a concept car at a few expos first, they might not have lost $250 million in 1960 when that was a ton of money.
How Growth-Driven Web Design Evolves As You Do
Clearly, there has to be a better way to build websites and automobiles. It is time to stop assuming (guessing) we know what people want. The days are gone when customers believed exactly what salespeople told them. Now they can research the industry on the internet, and shop for the best deals among similar offerings.
A state-of-art web design project has to excel at these three things:
- Knowing exactly what the target needs through exhaustive, objective research
- Having the marketing skills to convert incoming leads through unassailable logic
- Maintaining a scalable website that grows as their sales do without big rewrites
Our company culture starts changing as we do these things iteratively. Our customers no longer visit us because they must. They visit us, and buy from us because what we sell is what they need, and they can order it from their computer on our website. Does that sound like an improvement over a tele-sales bureau?
Why There is Hope and Safety in Smaller Beginnings
Henry Ford himself did not believe in making big splashes. He grew up on a farm, but drifted away when his mother died. Then he slipped quietly into commerce and taught himself how to swim. Much later he confirmed,
“There is safety in small beginnings and there is unlimited capital in the experience gained by growing.”
We would add that there is capital in reserve to grow too.
Vilfredo Pareto and Henry Ford would have gotten on like a house on fire had they met. Vilfredo formed a law called the Pareto Principle. This states that 80% of outcomes depend on 20% of inputs. The same is equally true of inbound leads from websites. Twenty percent of content drives eighty percent of sales.
Applying These Principles to Nimble Growth-Driven Web Design
Experience informs that we can launch a new website with just 20% of the content in position. Of course, this is not any content. We will share the right content with you when we meet. During this phase, the website is running in alpha mode but fully visible in Google. The main thrust is finding out how the market behaves and what the market wants. We have come a long way from traditional web design trapped in time for two years, and we are starting to make sales.
However, we are still more interested in customer behavior in our niche. We want to understand what makes the market tick. We learn this from data we collect on our visitors, leads, and customers. Which pages do they visit most, where do they hover and linger longer? How can we use this information to convert visitors to leads? What are the right calls to action to use? For example:
- ‘Get your free e-book here’ when we know they are browsing
- ‘Get a free quote here’ after a lead starts looking at prices and options
- ‘Go to cart now and save 20%’ - when they revisit a particular product page
As we get deeper in, we can begin to predict how persona types behave, and move them through their funnel faster. Now we understand our market, we can add the other 80% of the website over time.
Coming Together: Benefits of Growth-Driven Web Design
Growth-driven web design gets to market faster, because we only write the essential 20% initially, whereby we can launch sooner. This gives us a smaller body of content to adapt to the real user-data it harvests. As we learn, we begin to focus on what works measurably, and start optimizing our conversions. Meanwhile our competition using traditional web design may still be trying to agree where to start.
SiO Digital is an international online agency that specializes in lead generation through the combination of Math Marketing and Inbound Marketing.