For any business who has been involved in the design or redesign of their website, they likely went through a long an arduous process over several months or even years to finally have a website launch that ended up providing no discernible value for their business. Growth-drive design methodology, an agile design process, was developed with the goal of more effectively focusing the website design process on providing measurable business value through a user-centered design approach.
One of the stages of the growth-drive design process is to develop a website called the “launch pad website”. According to the Growth-Driven Design website, “The goal of the Launch Pad website is to quickly build a website that looks and performs better than what you have today, but is not your final product. Your Launch Pad is the foundation from which you collect real-user date and optimize.”
A launch pad website is utilized as a starting point with the intention of continuously evolving based on user feedback and data. User data that can help inform decisions include analytics, user testing, and customer survey responses and other data that reflect user engagement. For example, a design team may love the background video they created for the top of the home page, but user data may tell a different story if there is an increased bounce rate as a result.
Another benefit of creating a launch pad website as opposed to a traditional website is that it involves a much lower initial cost of time and money. The average GDD launch pad website takes 60 days to launch whereas the average traditional website design takes 108 days to launch. Due to its more focused design approach based on actual user feedback, there’s also a lower chance of wasteful use of time and budget on content or features that don’t positively affect marketing goals. Budget can instead be spent on optimizing the website based on data-drive decisions.
What does a launch pad website design look like?
It should involve the MVP (minimum viable product) as determined by your company and marketing team based on your knowledge of your user personas and marketing goals. A website may contain any number of features and content, but a launch pad website should contain the minimum amount that can be then used to engage and gather feedback from your users.
If you are redesigning your website and it already has a lot of content, the launch pad design process does not necessarily mean eliminating all of the current content and features. This can be decided based on ongoing user feedback and data.
How do you create a Launchpad website?
There are a variety of approaches that can be utilized for creating a launch pad website. It is essential however that each option always involve with the strategy stage where you gather a deep understanding of your users and develop goals for how you are going to utilize your website as a tool to help grow your business. Ideally, this is done during a workshop setting during which stakeholders and the design team gather to brainstorm and generate ideas. Once ideas have been generated, there are several approaches that can be used depending on which best meets the project goals.
- Refresh – This approach is used for recently completed or otherwise high-performing websites. This approach involved completing the strategy phase, performing a website audit to identify misalignment and performance gaps, developing a list of updates, then moving on to the continuous improvement stage.
- Kick-Start – This approach is used for brand new websites by utilizing pre-built assets such as website templates, modules, stock imagery, or already created content.
- 80/20 – For this approach, you will perform an 80/20 analysis on the wishlist developed during the strategy stage. An 80/20 analysis determines which 20% of your wishlist will have 80% of the impact on meeting your website’s goals. Then further define your selected 20% of your wishlist by determining which is a “must have” vs a “nice to have”. Move the “nice to have’s” back to the top of your list, to be completed after the initial launch of your website.
- Launch and Expand – This approach involves breaking up a larger website design project into multiple phases. The first phase will focus on developing the global elements of the website – basic site architecture, header and footer design, visual branding and design, and technology infrastructure. Phase 2 may then involve redesigning key landing pages throughout the site, phase 3 may involve ecommerce, and so on using separate phases to tackle key aspects of the website until all are completed before the launch pad website can go live, keeping in mind that additional phases can be worked on during the “continuous improvement” stage.
- Wise Investor – This approach should be integrated into every launch pad website. It basically states that time and budget should only be allocated towards those activities that have the potential to yield the best results for your website’s goals, based on current baselines discovered during a website audit, then followed up by continual reassessment of user data. High impact pages should be prioritized first and warrant the most time and budget spend whereas medium and low impact pages can be worked on later and require less investment in time and resources.
Launch Pad Website Content
The goal for the content (text, photos, videos, graphics, etc…) on a launch pad website is to quickly develop content that connects with your users and encourages a specific behavior. The following tips will help to improve the content creation process:
- Start developing content as early as possible in the website design process (right after the strategy stage)
- Hold content contributors accountable with weekly check-ins and due dates
- Use your strategy documents to generate ideas
- Use chat or other collaboration tools to improve communication and content development processes
- Hire a copywriter or other types of content creators (illustrators, photographers, videographers, etc…)
- Verbally interview subject matter experts within the company to generate content rather than relying on them to write it themselves
As a final note on the launch pad website, it is essential that it is easily usable for all members of the design and marketing team. Luckily, WordPress websites are built to provide features to easily allow anyone without knowledge of website development to manage content, SEO, analytics and other features that are required to continue to optimize the website after its initial launch.