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Is Growth-Driven Design the Best Approach for a Website Project?

AJ LaPorte
#Design Advice, #Digital Strategy, #HubSpot
Published on June 8, 2016

We look at HubSpot's approach to Growth-Driven Design and discuss when it is and isn't the best approach for redesigning websites.

Website redesign projects are complicated, expensive, and time consuming, but most organizations recognize that they need to keep their website up to date and ensure that they are providing the most value for their users, so they often plan to redesign their site every 2-3 years. But is this the best approach? Does it really provide the most value for both the organization and their users?

Over the past year, our partner HubSpot has introduced the idea of Growth-Driven Design, an approach to website redesigns that focuses on an ongoing process rather than a months-long redesign project that takes place every few years. Having completed the process for HubSpot’s Growth-Driven Design Agency Certification, I wanted to share my thoughts about what I’ve learned:

There’s Nothing New Under the Sun

With Growth-Driven Design, HubSpot recommends that rather than spending multiple months planning a full website redesign, agencies work with their clients to strategize the goals of their website, create a “Launchpad” site that can be launched right away, and then perform continuous improvement to that site on an ongoing basis.

This approach is not exactly a new idea (we’ve previously written about Strategic Iterative Improvements, which is a similar approach to website redesign), but HubSpot has given it a name and popularized the idea, helping both web design companies and organizations looking to improve their web presence understand the benefits of this strategy.

At Diagram, we don’t approach website redesigns as a simple product that is created and handed off to a client. Instead, we believe in forming ongoing partnerships, and we’ve been advocates of the retainer model of website development for years. We’re definitely on board for HubSpot’s emphasis on Growth-Driven Design, and we believe that organizations who utilize this model will be able to realize a great ROI for their website as they continually improve the ways they are able to make the best use of the many opportunities available online.

It’s Not for Everybody

With Growth-Driven Design, HubSpot emphasizes the importance of getting a Launchpad site up and running as quickly as possible and then continually improving it on an ongoing basis. While this can be a great approach for smaller organizations that are able to move quickly, it’s not necessarily the best approach for larger sites and organizations.

Enterprise-level websites that utilize a complex implementation of a CMS like Episerver or Ektron and include e-commerce capabilities and integrations with multiple third-party systems usually have so much infrastructure that creating an initial Launchpad site is not feasible. What’s more, many larger organizations (especially government organizations) have approvals processes in place that don’t always allow for this type of fast change.

For these larger sites, a redesign is not as simple as flipping a switch, or even quickly creating a new version of the site within 30-60 days. In their cases, it is incredibly important to ensure that existing functionality remains in place, current content is migrated correctly, third-party systems are properly integrated, and the site’s editors are able to continue to easily create and edit content.

For these reasons, we feel that Growth-Driven Design is not the best approach for larger organizations, and we recommend a more involved process that includes Discovery, a full design and development process that defines User Experience (UX) and Information Architecture (IA), and usability testing, as well as ongoing support.

Focus on Small Teams

For organizations and websites where Growth-Driven Design makes sense, it is a great approach, and it can be a great way to migrate from a static site to a CMS driven site or to implement responsive design. One thing that I especially like is HubSpot’s focus on smaller teams, usually consisting of one designer, one developer, and one marketer.

In this approach, this small team can work together to build a strategy for the client’s site, create the Launchpad site that will form the basis of the redesign, and then perform continuous improvements, ensuring that the client’s needs are being met and they are involved in the process each step of the way. As the site grows, the team may need to grow as well, involving additional designers, developers, and marketers, and since the strategy has been defined, they will be able to easily become involved in working toward the success of the site and the client’s digital strategy.

At Diagram, we’ve recognized that a full website redesign process isn’t the best solution for every client, and we’re sure to look at each client’s needs and budget to recommend the ideal approach, whether that might be a growth-driven retainer model or a full discovery, design, and development process. If you have any questions about website design, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to working with you to help you find success in your digital strategy!