Growth-driven design: The ultimate guide

Growth-driven design: The ultimate guide

Updated 13 October 2022

Growth-driven design is a methodology which intertwines digital marketing and web design into a single winning process.

Growth-driven design vs. traditional web design

When was the last time you heard someone say: “I had a ball building my last company site, it works like a breeze and doesn’t need any enhancements whatsoever.” 

Never, right?

That’s because the current method, which most website development companies use is flawed. 

We’re here to tell you about why moving to the growth-driven design process will ultimately make you and your company's next website project a successful one. 

Related Article: Traditional web design vs. growth-driven design

Traditional web design

Let’s take a look at the current design process and the major headaches involved.

Upfront costs are huge!
Typically the average SME website will cost anywhere between $250,000 to $300,000 in project fees and change requests.

Time and resource commitments.
Yeah, this is a massive drainer on your company. During the website development process, you will be required to pull a large number of resources from your team. This will typically impede on your team's overall performance. 

No set structure to the process.
Projects of this size can change in the amount of cost and time. This makes it difficult to get accurate quotes that you can rely on. Every project delay causes an increase, leading to blowouts of initial budgets.

Lack of prototypes.
Unfortunately, it’s a little bit of a launch and hope method with traditional web design. You have done all the planning in the world, so in theory, the site should do what you planned it to do. 

Too often this is not the case because there has been no trial and error to improve on the site. Allowing for this trial and error will allow refinements and updates in line with what your customers are wanting to experience with your website.

Why your company needs to adopt the growth-driven design method

Often times once a site is launched it will see no love for a further 1.5 to 2 years due to budgeting constraints. The scary part about this is that your website is your number one marketing asset. It’s also your number one salesperson. 

Sure, there are some additions you will make to the site like a blog or a couple of landing pages, but predominantly your company’s website remains in the same state it was initially launched in. 

Imagine if you didn’t update your other marketing collateral or assets over that amount of time? Imagine if your sales team received no training during that time? You wouldn’t, right?

That is what is currently happening with traditional web design. You don’t have to take this path, speak to Honest Fox about growth-driven design for your next website development project. 

Let’s talk about the way forward – growth-driven design (GDD)

GDD is simply a smarter way to go about web design. It changes the approach and the method of thought about developing and building a high-performance website.

The pillars of growth-driven design

Risk mitigation

The systematic approach to GDD vs traditional web design mitigates the risk in comparison. This allows for a dramatically shortened time to launch your site. We then focus on real results and through a process of learning and continuous improvement.

Learning continuously and improving the website

With a short launch period and looking at the results from the live site, it allows us to test and learn from the visitors to push out website enhancements and improvements. With this process, we will refine and implement changes that will turn your website into the well-oiled marketing and sales machine it deserves to be. 

The marketing and sales information loop

This is a team effort to deliver a website that will work for all major stakeholders of your website. The GDD process is integrated between sales and marketing. This solution will allow you to inform sales and marketing of any tactics and strategies you have learned from your site visitors. Likewise, the sales and marketing team can loop back any feedback to improve the site also.

Below you will find a summary of the major differences in the two approaches. It is an absolute no brainer to take on the growth-driven design approach. We are here to partner with you on your next site build.

What is the growth-driven design process?

Phase 1: Strategy / Wishlist / Launch pad website 


It goes without saying that any project requires a solid strategy. The following is the methodology used to develop a foundation that we can build our GDD process on:

Goals: Simply, these are the performance goals that your website will be achieving. We take a baseline reading of how the current site has historically performed. We then look at how you would like to improve these and how this will overall impact the marketing goals of your company.

Personas: Who are you expecting to visit your site? It’s time to build up detailed persona profiles of the type of people you are expecting to visit your website.

A persona is a fictional representation of people you would deem as your ideal customer. You will most likely create different groups of these personas. These will typically be grouped by a characteristic they all share. These can be demographic, pain points in common or specific industries and so on. 

Personas are a key part of this process as GDD revolves around the users of your site. It is extremely important to get this stage right as the rest of the process impinges on this stage.

Quantitative research: Let’s look at the data you have at hand. It’s time to start digging into the available information you have on the current performance of your website. This will allow us to pinpoint what’s going right and what's holding you back.

Qualitative research: Reach out to existing users and customers. This will help us learn a little more about them. This will help us get a better understanding of who the key customers are and help improve the experience they have with your website. 

This step will also assist in validating any assumptions you made in your personas. This additional info will help you mould your final personas.

Fundamental assumptions: Now that you have gone through the initial steps of the strategy you can now starting building out any fundamental assumptions about the users of your website.

For example, some assumptions could be:

  • What locations will be accessing the website from

  • What is the predominant device usage

  • USPs for products and services

  • What information will your users be chasing

Global and page strategy: The final step in building out your strategy revolves around the global strategy for the website. Then looking at specific page by page strategies for all the core pages of the site.

Here is the fun part. The global and individual page strategies will need to go through the same steps as previously mentioned in the strategy phase of GDD. We will also develop in-depth strategies on how to best engage with your users to get the best outcomes in regards to your developed goals. 

Your wishlist

This is the fun part of this phase. We have done a lot of learning throughout the discovery stage of the strategy. It’s time to get your crew together and brainstorm everything you would like to include on your new website. Put your thinking caps on. Every idea needs to be innovative, creative and impactful. 

Forget your old website when going through this process. That was the old, this is the new. List items that will ultimately allow you to achieve your specific goals of the website. Think about this stage without any regard to costs, time and development.  Things to think about in your brainstorming session:

  • The design elements of the website

  • The functionality and features

  • Core sections and pages of the site

  • Different tools, marketing collateral, resources and assets

  • Does the website experience change depending on things such as device, location etc

Your goals for this brainstorming session is to have a list of anywhere between 50-150 ideas for the new site. It is most likely that all of the items on your list will not be developed straight away. The more ideas your team has, the better. 

Your wishlist is a starting point of what to implement on your website. This is to be considered an agile and flexible list that can be updated throughout the process. This will allow you to prioritise and have a menu of ideas to implement on-site throughout the process.

Launch pad website

As you have been made aware of, the launch of your website is at the end of the process with the traditional web design process. With growth-driven design, we get that website launched straight away. 

This website that we build and launched is known as the launch pad website. It is this website that all future improvements are measured and made from.

The whole idea is to launch a site that needs improvement quickly. This will prevent getting held back by content, website features and content while developing and launching the launch pad site. That being said, the initial launch will still be an improvement on your current website. This is the baseline in which the process of continuous improvement begins.

Your initial launch pad website size and complexity will be dependent on what the team has placed on its wishlist. The way to get this launch site is by reducing your wishlist to 20% of its original size so it can be launched as quickly as possible. This will get the learning process and user feedback right into gear. Improvement is ahead!

It's time to prioritise that big wish list of requirements, but where do you even start? It’s time to get the whole team involved once again and use Pareto’s law to identify the 20% of the items that will deliver 80% of your desired results and value for your customers. 

Once you have your 20% off wishlist item it’s time to drill down even further by asking some filtering questions of must-have vs nice to haves. If it’s “a nice to have“ it can go back into the 80% list to be actioned post launch pad website. 

For the final list you are left with, you then need to ask the final qualifier. Is this item absolutely necessary for the launch pad site? Is this something that could be delayed for later iterations in the coming months?

You will then end up with your ultimate must-have list for your launch pad site. This list of website items will have the most impact on your site for the initial launch. This narrowed down list of items will allow for a quick launch of the site and allow for the improvement process to commence. 

Hypothesis statement for all the core items

We now have the must-have list of action items for the launch pad website. We now need to create a hypothesis for each of these action items which will aid in achieving the identified goals, the focus personas and the impact expected. Here is an example of a hypothesis statement:


We believe this to be true because [MARKET RESEARCH VALIDATES ASSUMPTION]

Each hypothesis statement requires four additional items:

Expected impact + effort required + metrics measured + definition of complete

Expected impact: This is a number which is established by the value a website visit receives from the action item and how this will impact the visitor heading towards the goal.

Effort required:  This number is an indication of the resource, difficulty and the hours required to execute the action item.

Metrics measured: These are the metrics you will need to measure and test your selected specific action. You will then judge whether or not your hypothesis was right. This is all about being specific. So the more specific your metrics are the better.

Definition of complete: These are all the steps required to classify an action item as complete. This removes any ambiguity, so being as specific as you can about these steps will avoid any confusion when analysing the results.

Web process steps

Now that all of the critical actions have been identified and what is to be included on the initial launch pad site, you will then proceed to move through the standard implementation process of your website. These will include:

  • Content and messaging

  • UX (User experience) and website architecture

  • Inbound marketing strategy

  • Wireframes

  • Designs

  • Web development

  • Quality assurance and UAT (User acceptance testing)

Setup data collection

The final part of getting your launch pad set up is getting both quantitative and qualitative data collection done for:

  • Goals defined as part of the strategy phase

  • Have your assumptions clearly defined

  • Your hypothesis statements for each action item executed on your launch pad website.

Make sure you set up data collection as it will allow you to do some learning and analysis about the visitors which land on your launch pad site. 

Phase 2: The growth-driven design process

Continuous improvement

Now that your launch pad site is live, it is time to start implementing the GDD process. Simply this process is iterative cycles of continuous experimentation, learning and above all, improving the end website.

From the previous phase you have a very long list of other items you believe will impact the website. This list of items should be regularly reviewed and updated with any new items or items that need to be dropped. 

The importance of the persona

This continuous improvement cycle focuses on the personas that are interacting with the website. 

Through each stage of this improvement cycle, a focus needs to be placed on these personas. You need to understand how each action adds value to each persona when using the website.

While analysing this and it becomes clear that a specific item adds no value or relates to the persona, you will need to form a plan of attack to moving away from working on it.

The four steps of the cycle

Step 1: Plan

The first step of the GDD cycle is planning what will be the actions which will have the most impact at that time. Plan to execute the ones at the top into the current cycle.

There are three parts of the planning phase:

Performance vs. goals – Review how the website is performing compared to the goals you have set. This will identify the most important opportunities.

Additional research or data – After you have reviewed performance vs goals, you will often find the requirement for more data and research to be conducted to understand what action items to add to the wishlist.

Learning from stakeholders – Your sales and marketing team are integral to the process. Understand what they have learned about the user from the last cycle.

The data that you gather here can then be transferred into action items to be implemented as part of your GDD process.

An example of this: Your marketing team have written a killer piece of content that has gone viral and resulted in a big increase in social visitors to the site.

We now know that this topic is particularly important to your identified personas. The step to take then is to add items to your wishlist which will influence the GDD process.

Brainstorm again and prioritise wishlist – As you did in the initial launch pad site you had a team session where you brainstormed all the items you wanted on the site. It’s time to do that again. Do that and then also return to the prioritisation exercise of your wishlist.

Your action items that you brainstorm will typically fall into one of these four buckets:


In the first bucket of items your wishlist actions will be directly correlated to conversion rate optimisation.

In the second bucket of enhancements revolve around the visitor having a better experience on site. This will make it easier for them to navigate around the site. Making it easier for the user to find what will solve their issue.

The third bucket of item revolves around changing the website, the offers and CTA’s (Call to Actions), to be optimised to the specific user on site based on the data we have already collected about them. This would mean enhancing the site experiences based on their location, device, persona and their interests. This can even be tailored based on how they have previously interacted with the site.

The fourth and final bucket revolves around building marketing assets that deliver high value. This includes items such as social media accounts, blog posts and email lists.

You can build new assets into the site such as usable tools, deep pillar content pieces, training and informational hubs and directories. These kinds of items will ultimately deliver great value to the user and serve as lead magnets to continue the user journey.

Prioritise this wishlist once again.

So you have punched out a few more action items along with your current list. It’s time to now rank them on their importance and impact on the identified goals of the site and the value they will deliver to users of the website.

Finally – plan the sprint cycle.

You now have a prioritised list. You can now select the most impactful items and plan to execute these in your next sprint cycle.

Depending on how long your sprint cycles are, you can pick the number of items based on what you believe you can complete during this sprint. If you complete all of you actions items prior to the end of the sprint, you can refer back to your wishlist backlog and select more items to complete in the sprint.

Step 2: Develop

This is a fairly self explanatory step. You now require to execute all the actions you have selected as part of the spring on your website. The development team will implement all of the actions which had been selected as part of the previous step.

The key here is to be experimental with each of the action points you are executing. Look at how they are impacting the performance of the site. The key is to measure these different experiments you trial in this step to validate how they performing. So it is important to have the correct tracking in place to measure metrics and then verify the outcomes of your experiments.

When each action point has been launch you need to test it with marketing campaigns that will drive specific traffic that will drive usage of visitors that see value in that area of the site. Feel free to use PPC marketing and social channels to drive this traffic and start collecting data.

Step 3: Learn

Now that you have run the experiments and have enough data to analyse, it’s time to start learning about what has been happening through this step. The step simply revolves around analysing the information that has been collected about what has happening with your visitors to site.

This data that you have gained in this process will help you figure out if the hypothesis you initially laid out to be valid or not. You will be able to see whether the changes you are making are having the desired impacts. It is important to work out the reasons behind the success or failure of the actions. 

From the results you will continue to learn more about your visitor. Is there something new that you have found out about them that wasn’t clear beforehand?

Once these results have been tabulated and reported, place this information in an area which is accessible to people in the organisation. Share this location with them and wait for the feedback to return.

Step 4: Transfer

The final step of this process is to transfer the information that has made an impact on your learning step to the other sections of the business.

Check to see if there are any specific patterns about the users from any of your previously completed website actions.  

To make this clearer, let's take an example of testing landing page variations. On one landing page you were using customer reviews as a variable and on the other page you were using industry authority as another variation.

During this experiment you found that people landing on the industry authority led to a greater conversion rate. With this new knowledge you can then feedback this conversion rate optimisation to other teams, so that they know that using industry authority on their marketing collateral and EDM’s will help boost engagement and conversions.

That’s the process! 

The process is now done. You then need to go back to start of this cycle and plan out the next iteration of the process.

You basically repeat this process over and over with the goal of having a better result and a greater understanding of your website and how your users interact with it.

The more cycles of this process that you can go through the greater your website will be optimised into a results based websites. Hence the growth driven design.

Finding a growth-driven design agency 

The great news is that Honest Fox is a certified growth driven design agency. We can help with a website development process which will deliver a website that has been optimised to achieve the results you have always wanted.

We believe that this is the best methodology to designing and developing a website to drive the greatest commercial outcomes for your business.

If you want to understand more about how growth driven design pricing works, try out our price estimation tool which can help you understand whether GDD is the right model for you.

A reminder of the benefits of the growth driven design model:

  • Lower upfront costs

  • A structured process

  • Planned resource commitments

  • Working website quicker

  • Continuous improvement

Want to level up or implement growth-driven design principles in your business? We're here to help, drop us a line!

Written by

Jay Clair

Head of Marketing

Jay is a full stack marketer with a passion for business transformation through digital strategy. Understanding current frameworks and creating a better way forward is Jay's jam.