Data Driven Website Design

Data driven design is the latest buzzword, especially in the context of data driven website design. As analytics become more accessible, more and more businesses are asking for all decisions to be backed by data, and that includes switching gears from what is pretty to what is functional.

We work with a lot of small businesses and startups who want a data-driven approach, and we typically say “no problem!”. However, the ability to make informed decisions is dependent on the quantity & quality of data available. Read on to learn more about how the For You Design team approaches data driven website design, both before & after the website launch.

BEFORE Website Design – If you have data

Ideally, you have an existing site with some analytics tool already installed. If you never installed Google Analytics, take a look through your platform provider to see if they have anything out of the box. Sites like GoDaddy and 1&1 have a light version of analytics included.

If you do have some data, we’ll take a look at the basics at a minimum to inform the design of your site:

  • Top pages viewed & potentially the path between them
  • Overall volume, broken down by mobile
  • Conversion metrics, perhaps including bounce/exit rates
  • Profile of a “converter”; what do we know about people filling out the lead form or making purchases?

All of these are clues to the site structure, level of content, and even the aesthetics that are likely to drive the ideal actions on your site.

BEFORE Website Design – If you don’t have data

Many, many clients don’t have anything for us to start with because they are either startups or because they never installed an analytics tool. In these cases, we have a few options for approach:

  1. Our experience: We have been fortunate to work with clients across several industries, sizes, and business models. As a result, we have some informal “data” that we can apply to your situation. We can apply specialized insights from similar clients and bring fresh ideas from those that are different.
  2. Your experience: It is more helpful than it seems when a client, even one who is just starting out, can tell us about their customers. One of our startup clients was selling at Farmer’s Markets, and she was able to describe the profile of a typical customer, why they buy, and which messages are most likely to resonate with that person – all because she took a few minutes during each sale to ask questions. Although it’s not scientific, we can take this “data” and translate it into a design.
  3. Google & third party tools: People who collect data at a large scale sometimes share it for free. We know a lot of the best practices, but we can find more industry-specific insights through these tools. For example, Google’s Keyword Planner can reveal important keywords and influence the structure of the site.

The point is that the design still isn’t created in a vacuum of what is pretty; the data is not as specific, scientific, or formal, but it still informs the website design & decision making process.

AFTER Website Launch – Let’s gather some data! (& maybe optimize)

So, we were able to provide data driven website design. Now you have a website that is live for all to use. This is the most important part of the For You Design services: we provide a custom Google Analytics installation with every website. This includes (at a minimum):

  • Goal setup
  • Custom event tracking
  • Integration with marketing tools

We also often continue the relationship with our clients after launch by providing a 30-day website analysis with insights.  It’s a deep dive into the behavior & profiles of people on your site, which often reveals opportunities to improve the site content, the design, or the marketing. We pair your data with benchmarks to provide some context as well.

The Bottom Line for Data Driven Website Design

If you’re in the market for a new website and you haven’t considered the merits of data-driven website design, get on board now. It not only makes logical sense, but also will result in a higher ROI by either saving you in design & development costs or resulting in higher revenue (or both!). Plus, all the largest companies are investing heavily in data, and with the explosion of tools available, there’s no excuse for the smaller ones not to join the party.

Tell us what your project is, and we’ll give you some more specific detail on how we would approach it from a data-driven design perspective.


Data Driven Website Design

Many of the projects we do here at FYD are to build a brand & its website. Often our clients don’t have an existing brand or website to work from, which is great – the options are wide open. However, it’s important to consider how our brands will engage & convert traffic on their site once it’s live, so we always factor digital marketing in website design.

It’s amazing how often the end goal is forgotten. Unfortunately, the more flashy the design, the less likely it is to support traditional marketing methods. SEO & paid search, for example, require multiple pages with some depth of content in order to provide the experience those folks expect. Analytics is another useful tool for a new website that is often updated as an afterthought, resulting in the loss of important data.

When we design sites, we think of these things at the onset of the design process, which jumpstarts our clients’ marketing programs right after launch.

Designing for SEO

Design means a lot of things. The most exciting part is the visuals, the branding, the look and feel. While this is extremely important, it should not override the needs of a website to gain organic traffic through SEO.

The biggest miss in designing for SEO is not having a page for each topic. Consider the way SEO works: a digital spider reads the internet, link by link, recording the topic of each page and the relationship of it to other pages. In other words: if you try to group all of your services onto one page, the spider will not be able to differentiate each topic. And when someone searches for one of those topics, the algorithm will favor a page that is very clearly focused on it.

When we design for SEO, we ask the client which keywords are important before any pages are drafted. That input becomes the foundation for the site structure and eventually the content. Of course, the visual design is still maximized around this structure.

Writing Content for SEO & Conversion

Strong digital marketing in a website design is not possible without strong content. Think back to the last online research you did. Perhaps you were researching lawn care services, and you clicked from a Google Search to a page with three sentences on it. Does this convince you to buy?

No. Probably not. Most likely, this person described the service they provide, but failed to hit on your buying factors. Maybe you are price shopping, and don’t see a menu or discount. Or maybe you want a well-trusted partner, and you don’t see the company history or any reviews. Or, perhaps you are looking for a seasonal partner rather than a weekly partner, and their service information isn’t detailed enough.

Apply this to any website. The more information on the page, the more likely the user is to read “what they want to hear”, and the higher probability they choose you over a competitor. Higher amounts of content even have the added bonus of priority with those digital spiders – they assume more content = a higher quality page.

Again, don’t forget the brand messaging elements here. An authentic tone to all content is more important than merely saying a lot of stuff. However, sites that have both are more likely to succeed, and we often help clients expand content for the specific reason of improving SEO & conversion.

Gathering Deeper Data through Analytics

We see a trend with our clients. They want more detail about what people are doing on the site. Luckily, free tools like Google Analytics make this fairly simple to gather, and it allows for data to answer some of those deep questions about who customers are and what they want.

The catch is that the data can only be gathered in the future. We can’t investigate a question that we never took the time to track. That’s why every FYD project includes a custom Google Analytics Implementation.

By custom, we don’t mean that we place the code on a site and call it ready. There is a foundational set of filters, event tracking, and goal setup that we provide to each client in anticipation of some of these questions. Our goal is to ensure a high quality of incoming data from the very launch of a site.

We are constantly amazed by our competitors who don’t even understand analytics or take the time to implement it properly. How will you know where the best place to focus your energy is without some data?

Getting the Design Process Started

If you’re kicking off your own brand & website design, start with your branding & brand messaging. With that as your foundation, circle back to digital marketing in website design and think through questions like this:

  • Which keywords do I want to be on the front page of Google for?
  • What information would my potential buyers need to make a purchase?
  • What data do I need about my customers to design my marketing mix & optimize my website?

The answers will lead you towards the best design for a digital marketing program. And if you have questions – we are here to help. Contact us.

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About us

ForYouDesign is a web and graphic identity development firm established in 2001. Designing to enhance and capture the idea of what every client envisions for their project.

We cover everything from web design and development, hosting, branding, content management solutions and more.

Our team is intentionally small, eclectic, and skilled; with our in-house expertise, we provide sharp and innovative work.

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