Growth Driven Design: The Traditional Web Design Process Is Broken

By Hannah Eisenberg - August 21, 2015

A few months ago, I heard Luke Summerfield speak about growth-driven design and something immediately clicked. As a computer scientist by training, I know the best way to create software is with a lean, iterative approach that is heavily reliant on users.

Before anything gets developed, the development team undertakes a thorough research phase of who their target audience is and what the problem is that they are trying to solve. Then they present the future users with wireframes, mockups, etc. to study how they would use it. They brainstorm and compile a huge wish list that will be prioritized and categorized. Next, the first few features will be implemented and tested. Instead of rolling out the project in one big bang, it will be launched little by little. 

This has significant advantages:

  • Early user involvement makes your end product better. You do not simply put out a hypothesis of what you think will work, but you actually test it on real users. 
  • Early user involvement drives user adoption. It ensures that your product will be used. 
  • Early user adoption makes evangelists. Being involved in the process gives users a sense of ownership and pride. 
  • Presenting users with a final solution that does not work, usually results in silent complaints. And these are the deadliest. 
  • Usability problems are easy to find, but ignoring them will cost you significantly more in the long-run. 

It makes so much sense — but I had never applied the same principles to web design. 

Getting back to web design. Let's look at what the current web design process looks like.

The Traditional Web Design Process Does Not Involve Users Until The Website Is Finished

If you are about to embark on a major website redesign project, you are in for some stressful months.

You will contact several web design companies or even the inbound marketing agency you have been working with for the past couple of months, send requests for proposals, listen to endless pitches and presentations.  And finally, you narrow it down and make a decision.

Now, this is where you should be able to send the specs and in three months time, you have an amazing website that will blow your management’s socks off, right?

By this point, you are anywhere from $15,000 to $80,000 (usually paid upfront) in the hole — so there is no turning back. Your traditional website usually takes 3-4 months to develop and because it is difficult to scope, they are often over budget, out-of-scope or late.

The even bigger problem is; this sparkly new website of yours is just a hypothesis of what your users need and want. There is absolutely no guarantee that it will perform better than your last website.

And then you won't update it for another 2 years or so. At that time, you will have to repeat the same process again.


The Risks Of Traditional Web Design

While these facts have become somewhat accepted when businesses are undertaking a major website overhaul, it is often a surprise to them to find out how their new website does not meet their expectations.

But what is often overlooked, is the fact that your team of web designers and developers will work on your site for months in isolation based on the specs and feature sets they have received from you.

You are spending more than $15,000 and more than three months on a bunch of assumptions that were developed based on various experiences. If you hired a good designer, he or she will go out and do some basic user testing, maybe even some surveys, buyer persona research and heat mapping.


When all is said and done, your website is created in a vacuum — not in collaboration with your users. In the end, you might end up with a website that includes features your users hate, that confuse them and distract them from clicking on your call to actions.

Growth Driven Design: A Lean Approach To Web Design

It doesn't make sense. Think about it — your website is your best salesperson! Would you let your best business development asset operate in a vacuum for 2 years without additional training, updates on your products, or management structure?

Growth Driven Design is a new approach to web design that is deeply rooted in lean manufacturing, which refers to getting a product out fast and in the hands of the users. This way, you are eliminating waste early and do not sink resources into features that your users will not use, they find irritating or that distracts them from acting upon a call to action. 

In the next few weeks, we will examine closer the principles of Growth-Driven Design, what a GDD website looks like and what you can expect from an agency if you hire them to design your website that way. 

Curious about how Growth-Driven Design Would Work For Your Website?

Click on the call to action below to schedule a 30-60 minute GDD website assessment and let a website strategist take you through the process of redesigning your website with this new approach. 

 Click here the schedule a growth-driven design assessment


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