5 steps to successfully starting your GDD strategy
by John Kelleher on 4 February 2019
You’re going to create a new website. This is an exciting time, but you can’t go running headfirst into something so huge – and nor do you want to – this is a move that requires a lot of thinking, planning and strategising. You can't grow without preparation.
If you’ve decided to embrace the GDD approach, the launch phase is your first step towards creating a growth-driven design website. Instead of creating a fully formed, shiny website all wrapped up in a bow (but inflexible and potentially not malleable to what your users actually want) you’ll create a launchpad website. This does what it says on the tin: it’s a “launchpad”, the foundations from which your improved website features can launch, bit by bit.
The launch phase is a fast one: there’s no room for endless tweaking and striving for perfection, only to discover your pristine site isn’t generating any leads. This is about identifying, experimenting and improving in a constant cycle.
But before you can dive in and start building your launchpad website, your changes have to be based on real evidence: what are your users telling you they want and don’t want to see on your website? What you need is a meeting for your team members to gather all their ideas for the new site together in one place – a wishlist session, to start reimagining your new website.
So far that’s:
Phase 3: Launchpad website, Phase 2: Wishlist meeting ...So what’s Phase 1?
First, you need some serious strategising. So how do you gather all the information you need ahead of your wishlist session? You take these five steps (and it’s easier than you might think).
Aim: To align your new website to your business goals.
Questions: The goals of your GDD strategy will be unique to your business. We recommend following the SMART goals method, but you can also ask yourself the following questions when digging deep into what you really want from this redesign:
Top tip: ClearPoint Strategy recommends thinking carefully about your company’s values during this part of the process:
“Be sure every goal ties back to your mission and your vision. It ensures each goal is oriented on where your organisation is headed in the long-term, not just something you’re thinking about in the moment.”
This is an excellent tip to help prevent the business from targeting goals that haven’t ever been in the makeup of your company: rooting everything in your mission statement will help you stay grounded through this time of evolution.
Aim: To put your buyer personas – semi-fictional representations of your customers – at the core of your marketing, sales and service activity through your new website.
Questions: Who are your buyer personas and what do they want from your business and your website? We’ve written plenty of advice on how to build them and even offer a Quick 5-Minute Persona Builder for free to help you get started. Even if you’re confident with your existing personas, this tool might be useful in helping you update them, before asking:
Top tip: As Forbes recently discovered:
“Just over half (52%) of consumers say they’re likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t make an effort to personalise its communications.”
You need to dedicate time to developing your buyer personas in order for growth-driven design to work for you and set you apart from competitors who aren’t making any effort to personalise to their consumers.
Aim: To pay some closer attention to your data and review what you do and don’t already have on your site.
Questions: Conducting an audit sounds far from enjoyable – but how do you know where to improve your new website if you haven’t taken a close look at what is and isn’t working on your website already? There’s no need to throw everything out just because you want a fresh start: there will be plenty that you’re already doing really well, so salvage that and focus on improving the rest. Start by considering:
Your quantitative research: Start with a website and analytics audit, we suggest performing a quantitative audit by reviewing:
Your qualitative research: Talk to real people – the evidence from your website audit should align with what buyers tell you when you pick up the phone to them, but sometimes this isn’t the case. this is your opportunity to ask:
Top tip: Some things can only be learnt, human to human. These phone calls or meetings in person are golden opportunities to learn the whats, whys, hows, wheres and whens behind user decisions. Let your users do the talking and seek their permission ahead of the call to record for improvement purposes.
Aim: To develop your fundamental assumptions: using the data you’ve already gathered, what assumptions can you make about why they behave the way they do, what they need and how your products can help.
Questions: Here are a few examples of questions you can ask yourself to see what your fundamental assumptions are for your customers:
Top tip: Luke Summerfield, Growth-Driven Design evangelist at HubSpot explains the importance of getting your fundamental assumptions right in his short video below, where he says:
“A lot of businesses just, kind of, guess that “these are the problems our users are having” or “these are the solutions” or “this is what they care about” and unless you actually go and test that, sometimes that’s not necessarily the case.
So the reason fundamental assumptions are so important is that if you’re making an assumption about a value proposition, and you find out that the audience you’re trying to market to doesn’t care about that – you can build a beautiful website, you can do whatever optimisation you want – but if there’s a core problem, you’re trying to polish or build around a thing that is fundamentally flawed.”
Aim: To put together a two-part GDD strategy, using all the findings from the previous steps in the process.
Questions: In order to create a comprehensive overview of the data you’ve acquired, you need to not only make sure you use all of the steps above, but that you address how this information will affect the website on a large and small scale:
Top tip: Effectively, you will end up with two strategy documents: one that looks at your site on a macro scale, and one that operates on a micro scale. By taking a wider view of the entire site, as well as looking closely at individual elements of your site, the aim is to make sure nothing is missed.
Next, when it comes to conducting your wishlist meeting, then cutting down your initial ideas using the 80/20 method, you need to consider how decisions will impact the large and small scales of your website.
Don’t go it alone – collating all this data within one team or even by one person – assign different steps to different teams. After all, there are some things only the sales team will be able to contribute, while the service team will be invaluable at sharing insights from another area. By following this five-step plan, you are arming yourself with everything you need to move forward in the GDD process.