Fast website design - Launch quick & grow

How to launch a website in a fraction of the time of a traditional website design

In previous posts we have looked at how the traditional website design process, where sites are delivered and then left for many years, is broken. The solution is Growth Driven Design - a methodology which allows continuous improvement of websites based on user data.

In the initial phases of the Growth Driven Design methodology it is essential that a website is launched swiftly so that data can be gleaned from it early in the process. The whole point of this website is to gather real life user data to inform decisions. This data enables decisions to be made to improve the site on an ongoing basis.

How do we launch a site swiftly? By having a logical process that can be executed speedily. Usually a well considered launch pad website can be up and working well within 2 months - that’s 4 months quicker than a typical web build. Will it be the complete end site? No. But that’s the point. You use the launch pad site to gather data to inform the decisions which enable the site to grow.

Within this initial phase we have to complete three major tasks. The first is to work out our strategy. Next is to develop a wish list of what we would like on the new site. Finally, these tasks are used to inform us about the smartest way of actually moving on to building the new website.


Task 1: work out the strategy

In this step we develop a rock solid vision for our launch pad website which will enable us to build our Growth Driven Design process upon. Within our strategy we need to work out the following steps. Many of these steps would be done in team workshops and brainstorming sessions as well as some more customer focused research.

  • Goals - what are the performance goals that we are trying to achieve? For example, if we want more leads from the site then how many leads? What does success look like? Ideally goals should be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound).
  • Personas - who are our ideal buyers? As we go on, all of our decisions will be built around our users and so it is essential we understand and can talk about them easily. Personas are semi-fictional representations of our ideal customers. We need to document who these are, what motivates them, why would they buy from you and what is your value to them.
  • Research - if we have a current website with any kind of current data tracking on it, we can use this to identify what is working and what is not. We can use this stage to proactively reach out to users, see how they use the site, find out from them what they might like the site to do better.
  • Assumptions - using what we’ve learned in the previous steps we can now document and build fundamental assumptions about our users. For example we can produce value propositions for our offer. We can think about the places, devices and times each user persona is likely to use our site. We can consider the information that each persona is looking for.
  • Strategy document - the final step is for us to simply document and report on each step we have undertaken so far. From this, guiding recommendations for how the website will proceed into the future can be given on the subjects of: Overall global strategy for the site and the basis for its continued existence, page-by-page strategy for each major page on the site, how to best engage with and influence the user to attain your goals.


Task 2: produce a wish list

The next task is for an initial wish list to be produced. This wish list will contain every idea that we’d like to include in the new site. This list should be organic - it will be added to with new ideas as time goes on. From design elements, to features, resources, widgets, tools, web pages and downloads they all get documented within the wish list.

Typically there would be around 50-150 ideas within a wish list. Not all of the ideas on the list will be implemented immediately but the list gives us a pool of ideas from which to draw in the future.


Task 3: launch pad website

The final task in the process is to build a launch pad website. In the traditional web design process the website is launched at the end of the project. In the Growth Driven Design methodology we launch websites straight away. The size of the launch pad site varies from project to project but typically this will be a site consisting of around 8 pages.

So what is built and how do we decide what not to build at this point? This is done by reviewing the wish list to determine what are the “must have” items for the site to fulfill its basic purpose. In other words, what is the irreducible minimum that has to be on the site. Usually this can be done by conducting an 80/20 analysis on the wish list items. The 80/20 rule says that 20 percent of items on the wish list will produce 80 percent of the impact. This enables a streamlined site to be produced which has the key ingredients for success but which will certainly need to be developed in the future.

The key thing to appreciate about this step is to remember the launch pad website will be imperfect. Yes it will improve your current website (or it will be better than nothing if you have no site already) but it is not the final end website. It is a starting point on which to continuously improve.

If you have been having work done on reviewing your brand’s look and feel, then the launch pad website is a great opportunity for any new identity and story to be positioned to your audience. There is nothing worse than spending ages doing some work on an exciting new brand narrative, only to find it cannot be utilised for 6 months due to a monster website needing to be built. The launch pad website will be created and designed to be in accordance with your brand story, visual language and current look and feel.

Within the launch pad website, heavy tracking scripts are added which allow us to begin to see how many visitors are interacting with the site and enable us to test out the results of our build cycles in the next ongoing phase of the Growth Driven Design methodology. Key to this will be to set up data collection around the areas of the website strategy - including the goals and assumptions of the website. This way we can begin to see if the site is doing what it is supposed to be doing.


What if I have a new website already?

If you have a website that is performing well, or maybe you have just built a website and you want to implement the Growth Driven Design and continuous improvement model, then that's no problem! Your current site could be used as the launch pad website and you can move right into the continuous improvement sections of the Growth Driven Design methodology.