How We Found Growth Driven Design

Posted by John Aikin
on June 25, 2015


I Was Thinking About Business One Day

There are few times in my professional career where I’ve sat back and literally been blown away in a presentation by what I was reading or what I was hearing.

Sometimes, these moments happen and I’m in awe of what I’m seeing my colleagues or my friends doing with their own businesses.

Admittedly, then I get a little pissed because I’m thinking to myself, “dammit John, you really should have thought of that; what the hell is wrong with you, yadda yadda.”

I guess that’s kind of the curse of an entrepreneur - trying to stay one step ahead of the game, but really feeling like you’re missing out when someone else has a splendid concept they are backing and you had no part in it. Sad face.

I had one of those moments when I was digging through different trends in website development not too long ago, and I was trying to see if there was a different way we could position our agency with the premise of inbound marketing in mind.

We don’t share this with a lot of our prospects (so consider this the inside scoop if you happen to stumble across this blog post), but often times the inbound marketing services we offer sound like a wonderful idea for many of our prospects... However they just aren’t there yet or ready to pull the trigger.

Sometimes they need quite a bit of nurturing, or training, or educating before they are interested in looking into what this can do for their business.

Sometimes it’s strictly based off of cash flow. Most of the time they know it takes money to make money - but if there’s no money available you don’t have much of an option.

And that’s totally okay.

However, as a business owner and a marketing professional, I can’t help but feel like we are letting these prospects down that come in and out of our funnel.

And Then I Had A Wake Up Call

Call it a stroke of luck or a case of being in the right place at the right time - I really don’t care. But I fell into the concept of Growth Driven Design right out of left field, and our agency changed instantly.

We had started to think through the ideas of how we can move from a “project based” website design strategy into something that was more tied to inbound results that can be immensely measured and analyzed, proving that the efforts you (or an agency) are performing on your website are driving traffic and generating a qualified network of leads. Obviously, marketing and website design are very closely tied together; however, there is traditionally a large rift between the two.

We came up with a package that would allow us to start utilizing website design in a small retainer-based system, while looking into some of the core concepts of the inbound process.

The idea was to offer a package that was built around a small, short-period retainer to get the ball rolling for our clients.

As we began the development process and the fact-finding stage of this system, we discovered very quickly that this system, almost exactly, was just starting to be promoted by none other than our favorite partner, HubSpot.

Oh HubSpot. How I love you. You changed our life and our agency with the concept of inbound marketing a few years ago.

And now, through smart usage of website design and development - and the fact that we are indeed partners and share resources - together, we are tackling this new approach to site development.

Well… Us, and a handful of other agencies who are also partnering up and drinking this new kool-aid.

What I didn’t realize was that this system we were developing already had a name and a handy-dandy hashtag tied to it (#facepalmfornothashtaggingfirst).

Related Post: inbound vs outbound marketing: the end of interruptive marketing

And that concept is called Growth Driven Design

We discovered there were not only a few other people pushing this concept, but they too were kind of lost still, in their own way, about how this new movement in web design was going to evolve over time.

It’s almost like a new trend is on the verge of booming and breaking through the world of internet focused businesses, and we are blessed to be in the right place at the right time.

So What Happens?

It’s my firm belief that this concept is going to wash away the idea of project-based websites in the next 3 years.

Companies who evaluate GDD versus project-based websites are almost exclusively choosing these retainers.

This is because it takes the mess of traditional website design projects:

  • oops, we went over budget (Design firm is pissed)

  • oops, it’s taking too long to get this done (Client is pissed)

  • oops, something goofy happened in launch and we need to ask for more fee (Everyone is pissed)

...and cleans it up all nice and shiny, and throws those issues out the window.

GDD is Smart

This is because it allows for a company to have an amazing, ever-fluid, ever-growing website built almost instantaneously. Over the next few weeks and months, the site is phased in - but not in a traditional phasing method.

Traditionally, phasing in a website consisted of one of two things: totally random choices for why widgets x, y, and z were included in phase 2, or an educated guess because that’s what the “bosses” decided was necessary.

With the Growth format in place, we listen to what the website tells us so we can make educated and analytical decisions about what happens on versions 3, 4 or 5.

We watch heat maps and we review how visitors are engaging with the content and the site structure.

We also focus a great deal on what kind of content is built into the infrastructure, so we know how CTAs and offers are performing.

With GDD, the client sees the highest ROI over the longest period of time and is able to use the data and analytics gathered to make educated decisions about how to move forward at all times.

What’s Next?

With the internet always in a state of fluctuation, we as marketers have to keep our company’s profile online fluid. This is predominantly true for website development.  

Changing your website often is extremely key.

Changing your website to react to how your visitors are using the site is GENIUS.

Start thinking about how this system might apply to your business, and how you might be able to start moving things forward in your industry.


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