The traditional way of designing a website no longer works. This is according to HubSpot themselves, who point out that growth driven design of a website, where you extend and refine the site as you go along rather than launching a behemoth of a completed project from the get go which you just then leave out in the world until the next re-design, is a much better way to go.
Growth driven design is a perfect model for startups, where they don’t really have a lot of content to start with, and their customers are new and tech savvy so feedback to steer the direction of the site content isn’t overwhelming and it isn’t lacking either. More established companies that have a ton of content and have a lot of customers that they’ve already had feedback from, would do more harm than good stripping their web presence right back and starting again.
Traditional website design, or should we say website redesigns, tend to consist of a content audit, followed by a cull of the old and plan for the new, with a series of templates to suit the new and the old content being hosted on the site. Templating systems have gotten a lot better over the years, especially within WordPress, where you have page builder and visual studio allowing the creation of custom templates on the fly in a responsive layout. Trouble with these though we’ve found is they’re either very simple and a bit lacking in features, or there’s so many options the end user has to return to the development or design team to implement new content or make edits to existing content.
We’ve developed many WordPress powered websites over the years and having come from a custom PHP framework background, I’ve often indulged the clients with custom functions added to WordPress to facilitate easier editing of the site. Hours of coding poured in to make the complex easy to administer so the client has a much easier time making changes. Did it work? Did it encourage the clients to keep their sites super fresh and therefore rankle in the eyes of Google? No. No it just doesn’t. For whatever reason the traditional templating system, however custom the editor is, simply doesn’t encourage end users to really get stuck in and keep their site constantly evolving.
Freshness and engagement, that’s what Google wants from a site, that’s what’ll get you good rankings. Traditional website design with its series of available templates or it’s flexible plugins just weren't capable of enticing the marketing teams we’ve worked with to crack on and create. So what’s the answer? Can established sites in a redesign take advantage of the inbound marketing website design methodology of growth driven design, not only to create new content but to adjust and refresh their old content?
The key to this really is about the guidance you give to a client, and realistically just how easy and comfortable is to for a client to add and make changes to their site through the content management system? When we design templates with building on the HubSpot COS platform in mind, we walk through the traditional path of wire framing, but now we look at elements of the design in a much more modular plug and play way. The idea being that the rows and columns that form templates should be transferable and implementable in any of the other templates on the site. Sure the homepage tends to have its own custom setup, but the flexibility of the HubSpot COS editor system is baked into the designs from the off.
The development that was previously ploughed into the editor interface instead is used to setup custom modules which present a recognisable editor to the end user for adding custom elements to the pages using flexible columns. What this means is you can build new templates using the component parts that have been setup for the rest of the site.
Engagement comes from populating a page with interesting, unique and helpful content and stacks of it. This is key to get the user to click on your call to action, it’s key to getting the users to stick around which Google wants to see, stickiness means your user is finding what they were looking for on your site, and if Google can connect that to a specific search item, you’re much more likely to increase your ranking for that search term. And being able to measure this is the real key driver for your content direction and that's what will help marketing teams engage with their online presence.
Being able to build a different story for each of your pages, having that flexibility to extend and change it is absolutely key to your online success, and it all relies on having an immensely powerful and well though out content management system like the HubSpot COS system to achieve that.