Why Is Traditional Web Design Broken?

Traditional web design is broken. In an Agile-everything world, classic web design just cannot keep up. Companies that still use it will be familiar with some of the challenges it presents, including:

Massive Effort to Get Things Going

Moving mountains and traditional web design have one thing in common: they require a significant amount of effort. Considering that for most traditional web design projects, the last redesign was more than a year back, jumpstarting the process requires a lot, including:

Lots of resources

Traditional web design is typically project-based, meaning a company must front tens of thousands of dollars for the entire project. Considering everything is done at once, companies must set aside resources for content, design, all features, testing, revisions and rebuilds, and many other things up front. 

Months in groundwork

If you are building a website the old-fashioned way, you need to set aside one to three months to define specifications, collect and organize content, and plan the project. Then set aside another one to three months for the redesign. You are spending six months to implement a redesign that may very well be ineffective by the time you launch.

Extensive scoping

In a traditional redesign, everything goes on the chopping block. This approach spawns extensive scoping, and soon, nice-to-have features overshadow must-have features. The ensuing scope creep can cripple the project, requiring more and more resources to keep the project moving.

Design/Development Hell

Once the design phase is complete (hopefully), most traditional web design projects descend into website development hell as too many moving parts make it challenging to progress smoothly to project completion. Two of the biggest challenges clients and agencies face at this phase are:

Constant revisions

Since most redesign projects are not set in stone, goalposts keep shifting, and with each shift comes revision requests. Constant revisions quickly become frustrating for all parties because they usually mean additional time and budgetary extensions, plus the go-live target gets pushed further into the future.

Bottlenecked tasks

Large projects mean a lot is being done simultaneously, meaning interdependent tasks soon become bottlenecked as some tasks get slowed down due to revisions or other issues. When this happens, the entire project can quickly come to a grinding halt because of a single bug, issue, or request taking time to resolve.

Never Quite Good Enough

Despite being such a massive undertaking, traditional website projects hardly yield spectacular results. Most are not quite good enough, merely satisfactory, as all parties agree that doing more would sweep past the point of diminishing returns. 

Post-launch, some of the challenges that continue to haunt traditional website projects are:

Change requests

Usually, not all requests have been actioned by the time a traditional website project concludes. A compromise is struck, and any change requests are deferred to after launch. laptop with codeHowever, after launch, the project can be dogged by ongoing change and revision requests that make it difficult to conclude it formally.

New features

New feature requests often come out of the blue in a traditional web design setting, with little supporting customer data. A constant stream of new features can seem progressive but most often amount to busy work with no substantial impact on users or the website's overall effectiveness in meeting set objectives.

Lose sight of core needs and functionality

Most traditional website design projects are a classic example of not seeing the forest for the trees. As everyone becomes busy tinkering with new features, change requests, and other to-do list items, the real purpose of the website is lost, which is to meet the core needs of end-users through the correct functionality.

Curious about how great web design can boost your business?

How Does the Growth-Driven Design Methodology Work?

GDD Definition

GDD is a web design approach developed by Luke Summerfield as part of a broader inbound marketing strategy that utilizes user data to enhance a website's user experience and conversion rate in iterative steps. 

Here at O8, we use growth-driven design for all our projects, including our website. As part of this website optimization process, we focus on three fundamental pillars:

  • Mitigation of risks associated with traditional website design
  • Continuous learning through data collection and analytics
  • Cross-functional information sharing to improve overall sales and marketing effectiveness, both online and offline

Informed by these three foundational components, our GDD process follows three main steps:

Develop a Strategy Blueprint

Much like a traditional website design project, our GDD process starts with developing a strategy. 

The main components of the strategy include:

Goals

Goal setting is the starting point and establishes the why of the web redesign. At this juncture, we assess the old website’s performance, data, and analytics. The primary focus at this step is to identify baseline performance metrics like why users visit the website, what value proposition they receive, and whether the website format meets their multi-device needs.

Personas

The customer/user is at the heart of the GDD process, and personas ensure this focus remains. When creating buyer personas, we develop fictional but functional representations of ideal customers, highlighting characteristics like demographics, age, background, etc. Since personas are critical to the success of the GDD process, we prioritize them accordingly.  

Quantitative research

A website and analytics audit offers quantitative research data on past website performance, looking at metrics like bounce rates, time-on-page, clickstreams, and more. The main thrust of this exercise is to identify performance gaps in the old website, which present opportunities for improvement.

Qualitative research

Qualitative research is anchored in user research and involves reaching out to current users and other stakeholders to understand who they are and how they use the website. An important outcome of user research is that it will almost always challenge the assumptions used in developing personas, offering a chance to fine-tune them further.

Fundamental assumptions

Using the data collected thus far, we identify key fundamental assumptions about your users, including:

  • Why they visit the website  
  • Value propositions they will encounter
  • The devices and locations they visit from
  • The key information they are looking for

These assumptions inform our understanding of user behavior and motivation while feeding into the last step of developing a global and page-level strategy.

Global and page-level website strategy

The final piece of the puzzle is a global website marketing strategy governing the entire website and a page-level strategy for high-performing pages like the contact page, product pages, and service pages. This strategy details what is required to generate the highest level of engagement and conversion from target users.

Create a Wishlist 

While the strategy is fairly high-level, nuts and bolts ideas indicate what can be done to generate substantial results for your website. We create the wishlist through a checklistbrainstorm session to identify as many impactful, creative, and innovative ideas as possible.

To avoid any bias, we approach these sessions with a clean slate that does not consider ideas from the current website. Usually, these sessions yield between fifty and a hundred practical ideas. Going forward, the wishlist acts as a living and evolving tactical manual on how to improve your website over multiple GDD cycles.

 

Publish a Launchpad Website

A launchpad site is a starter website or minimum viable website (MVW) with just the basics. While a traditional website redesign launches a website at the END of the project, GDD launches the launchpad website at the BEGINNING.

The idea is to have a blank canvas on which to implement the ideas in the wishlist. Before implementing the ideas, we filter them to find the 20% of ideas that can generate 80% of the impact.

Keep in mind that ideas not implemented now can be implemented in subsequent GDD cycles. Prioritizing the wishlist ensures there’s as little feature bloat as possible during any one sprint cycle.

Implement Continuous Improvement and Learning

With the launchpad website up and running, and wishlist items added to the pipeline, we implement measurement and learning components like website analytics, exit surveys, heatmaps, and more.

A core aspect of GDD is that each subsequent cycle must build on measurable metrics, constantly improving on the website as user data streams in. Since the GDD process is never complete, this last step feeds into the first step (strategy), creating a virtuous cycle that constantly learns and improves.

Making The Pivot

Whether you have just completed a website redesign or are contemplating building a new website, you can make the switch to GDD and reap its benefits. Aside from gaining a better performing website, here are some of the benefits of pivoting to GDD:

Switching From Project to Retainer

Project-based web redesigns require project financing, a factor that makes most companies hesitant because of the associated high costs.

With GDD, retainer pricing amortizes the redesign costs, making it easier to factor continuous website adjustments into your fixed expenses.

So, instead of saving up for a big redesign every two to three years, we use GDD to have your website looking fresh always at a fraction of the price of a big bang redesign project.

Working in Sprints

Here at O8, our Agile GDD process utilizes sprint cycles to deliver impactful improvements to your website at a predictable rate. Since each sprint is a complete GDD cycle (from strategy to implementation), every improvement implemented is data-driven and designed for impact.

Another advantage of sprints is that clients have an opportunity to sign off on any new improvements during each sprint, something they usually must wait months for with traditional web design.

Using a Website Performance Roadmap

We use a website performance roadmap that follows a three-pronged approach: establish, optimize, and expand.

  • Establish: During this phase, the focus is on harvesting data, identifying key audiences, and understanding the value they need.
  • Optimize: Here, the focus areas are determining website usability, generating better conversions through CRO, and personalizing project roadmapthe overall experience for each user.
  • Expand: Expansion focuses on offering the best products to target audiences, cultivating an ever-improving user journey, and establishing the website as a beachhead for the internal marketing team besides sales teams and customer experience (CX) teams.
The GDD Advantage

The traditional method of website design hands you a “complete” new site every two to three years. In a rapidly changing market, anything ‘complete’ is soon obsolete.

The great thing about GDD is that your website is never complete. Although this might sound counterintuitive, after all, nobody wants an incomplete website; it does mean that your website is always fresh and updated.

Today, agile and responsive marketers and companies like HubSpot are leading the pack in an ever-changing market landscape. Companies that want to lead or solidify their position need agile tools and techniques to stay ahead of the curve.

O8’s GDD process gives companies an edge over the competition in ensuring their websites remain relevant and engaging to demanding audiences while continuing to meet and exceed internal business goals.

To find out more, contact us today to speak with a GDD specialist and discuss how this revolutionary methodology can transform your web design projects.

Speak with an expert at O8 today!

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O8 is a web and digital marketing consultancy based in Minneapolis, MN offering expert-level UX Design, CRO, and strategic consulting, as well as highly-technical capabilities in Drupal, WordPress, and HubSpot

We work differently from traditional agencies in that we extend your team with ours.