Six & Flow’s Ultimate GDD Guide Pt 5: The Continuous Improvement Cycle

February 13, 2018
By Chris

Welcome to the next part of Six & Flow’s series on Growth Driven Design (GDD). Here we look at implementing a continuous improvement cycle as part of your overall GDD strategy to improve your metrics, enhance your strategy and approach each area of your site to optimise in a cyclic manner.

By now, your launchpad site should be live with all departments working in tandem as part of your overall inbound and GDD strategy to grow your business. The whole point of GDD is to break away from the traditional web design model and continuously improve though, so how do you do it effectively?

Why continuously improve?

Before we get onto that point, we need to remind ourselves why we’re here and doing what we’re doing. You’ll already be collecting visitor data and reaching out to specific people in a variety of ways to learn more about them. This enables you to evolve your site’s design and user experience to improve conversions, attract better leads and keep people coming back for more.

We believe that’s harder and more expensive to do through traditional web design. Commissioning a full site can take months to build and take a large chunk from the budget. Not only can it be out of date by the time it goes live, but after so much effort, business owners often sit back, leave it and don’t give it the respect it deserves, hoping it’ll just ‘do its job’ and magically attract and convert leads.

When it doesn’t, they get annoyed and feel they’ve purchased a white elephant. They may even be quoted changes which, again, can be expensive and take months to complete. It’s a cycle which doesn’t really benefit anyone other than the developers. We think there’s a better cycle, and that’s by starting small and building from the ground up continuously with GDD.

It’s less expensive, gets you live quicker, better aligns sales and marketing departments and – most importantly – stops your site stagnating in the corner. Continual improvement helps your site pull its weight, attract new leads, nurture them and grow your business.

If you’ve been following our series on GDD, then you’ll know more about the philosophy of GDD, why continual improvement is so important, the essentials of planning before launching and what should be looked at with a website hierarchy. Time to move on to the actual continual improvement cycle.


1: Running the 'plan' step

We can’t reiterate enough how important it is to make use of your website. It should be regarded as a living, breathing member of your team, there reaching out to prospects on a daily basis, collect ingtheir data transparently and converting sales. You should already be at the stage where you’ve built a solid foundation based on research, created a launchpad site, begun attracting people and started to evaluate your strategy’s effectiveness based on your hierarchy.

Each hierarchy point will be dealt with individually in a cyclic way, based on the metrics you’re targeting. The conversion rate optimisation (CRO) stage, for instance – you may be looking at your analytics and data on a monthly basis to ascertain the effectiveness of your conversion funnel, looking at specific analytics to see which parts of it are converting well and which areas could use some improvement.

This is where we enter the ‘plan’ stage. By looking at previous reports and analytics, it’s possible to get a pretty clear snapshot of how things are going in respect to certain areas that you consider important to your overall strategy. In the plan stage, you pick the metric you wish to improve and where you’re going to focus your time during the upcoming cycle.

Let’s stick with CRO. Ask questions. If a certain product isn’t selling as you’d like to, why not? What problems are people coming across that they aren’t encountering with other products? What patterns are you identifying from your data? Take a look at the content and methods used to promote the item, are they out of date and need a refresh? User research can be critical during the plan stage to get human opinion in a qualitative way to compare with the data you’re collecting.


Planning for continous improvement of your GDD website


2: Running the 'build' step

Once you have an idea of the answers to those questions, it’s worth discussing the way to solve the problem with the rest of your team. GDD does help to align different departments, after all, and collecting ideas and feedback from other members involved in the process can be worth it before progressing to the experimental ‘build’ phase.

The goal of the build phase is to begin to action the ideas and solutions you and your teams brainstorm as quickly as possible without compromising on quality, with every member of the team pitching in wherever and whenever they can, whether that’s with helping to create content, assisting with design elements and more. Think of it as a collective sprint task where everyone is able to contribute, be it in creative ways or getting lunch for the team so they can focus on producing great quality solutions as quickly as possible.

Once an experimental solution to the problem is in place, it needs to be made clear what metrics are to be measured to gauge the impact of the changes. The new areas need to be aligned with your tool stack to make sure you’re collecting the appropriate analytics, before giving the build changes a good, thorough sweep through before they’re launched for the test phase.


3: Running the 'learn' step

Once launched, it’s time to gauge the build’s impact and ‘learn’ from it. This whole process is essential to learning more about who our website’s visitors are, your site’s impact on them and how they use it and view it overall. That will also help you to better perfect each and every cycle in your hierarchy as you go, as well as increasing the potential overall impact of your site when you next visit the change process.

Tests are run on the experimental build, keeping it running until you’re confident you have collected enough results and data from split testing and other methods to come to solid conclusions. The data you collect should help you to pose questions to yourself and your team; ‘was your hypothesis correct’, ‘what does the data teach you about people visiting your site’, 'how will the way you and your team have worked impact future ideas’, and more.

The data and analytics need to be collected and collated to help you make the right decisions when it comes to your experiments. If something hasn’t worked as you’d hoped, it can present an opportunity to go back and have another think before trying out something new. It could also represent a chance to try something a bit more unique such as interactive content and more.


Learning for continous improvement of your GDD website


4: Running the 'transfer' step

Once all those steps are completed, it’s time to run the ‘transfer’ step. Not in a technical sense; when we talk about transfer we’re talking more about sharing and distributing everything we’ve learned during this cycle to other members of the team to keep them as informed as possible about our findings, the work undertaken during this cycle, the data that was collected during our tests and how users responded.

The purpose? To keep everyone aligned and on the same page as well as refining the overall cycle process to help it go more smoothly the next time an area of the hierarchy is looked at. It’s best collated and done with collaboration, presented to internal departments, clients, shareholders and other relevant people as quickly and effectively as possible. Tools in your stack that help you to better visualise the data you collect can especially be key here.

Knowledge is power and can be used to great effect here. For instance, you may have noticed users flocking to a specific product during your tests or interested in a specific piece of content. That information could be passed to the marketing department to help them angle their next creative campaign, or the social media team to help them promote something that’s currently a hot topic within the industry.

This entire cycle is the basis of any and every GDD campaign. You use the data your launchpad has collected to plan ahead, you and your team get together to build ideas and processes that might fix the problem, you launch experiments to try and offer solutions whilst also collecting data, and then learn from it and transfer the benefits of the knowledge you’ve gained with the people who matter most. Get it right and you’re well on your way to GDD success.

Thanks for reading our series on Growth Driven Design. Be sure to read our next blog around conducting user research. If GDD already sounds like it’s something you need to boost your business growth, though, contact Six & Flow today to find out more.


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