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The GDD Website Performance Roadmap: The Establish Theme

8 mins read

A common mistake that’s made when designing a brand new website is that it’s often forgotten about. Without any continuous optimisation, a website can’t really improve and goals clearly can’t be achieved that way.

In the Growth-Driven Design principle, however, that’s not the case as it’s always about continually improving your website. In the continuous improvement stage - after a website has been initially launched - a framework called the Website Performance Roadmap is used. Within that, there are three themes that are focused on - establish, optimise and expand.

Continue reading to find out exactly happens in the establish theme and soak in some useful tips you and your team can also use.


This blog post is part of a three-post series. If you want to know more about the optimise theme of the Website Performance Roadmap in the GDD process then click here. Alternatively, click here to get more information on the expand theme.

A Quick Explanation on Why Themes are Used in the Website Performance Roadmap

The Website Performance Roadmap is a framework used to build a peak performing website. You’ll need to use it to provide a focus, set expectations and then measure progress to goals. In this framework, your focus is going to be on themes, focus areas and tactics. Each element is nested under the previous one to create some sort of a decision tree.

By doing this and focusing on all of the different focus areas in each theme, you’re optimising each stage of the GDD Website Performance Roadmap hierarchy. In turn, you’re effectively optimising your website and setting it up for much better success as you use this framework to measure progress.

Remember, this is the framework you use once you’ve made your launch pad website live and is used in the continuous improvement phase of the GDD process.

What is the Establish Theme?

The establish theme in the Website Performance Roadmap revolves around the core foundational activities you need to do whenever you build something new. In this case, it’s your website. The establish theme is commonly implemented straight after a new major website initiative is launched.

This can include your initial launch pad website that’s launched in the second phase of GDD, implementing major new sections to your website or even new digital web products you’ve released.

What Happens in the Establish Theme?

Just think about it. Whenever you launch a brand new initiative, you don’t just leave it there and never look at it again. You want to see how it was launched, how users interacted, whether or not it was successful and what you can do differently next time.

If we’re talking about your new launch pad website then in the establish theme, you and your team need to undertake three important tasks.

  • Complete any important items that didn’t make the cut for when you initially launched your website.
  • Get people engaging with your website so you can start collecting feedback and data.
  • See if people that are engaging actually care about what you’ve created and find genuine value in it.

The three points above are why the three focus areas under the establish theme include harvest, audience and value.

The Goal of the Harvest Focus Area

The first focus area of the establish theme is harvest. The goal of the harvest focus area is to ‘harvest low-hanging fruit.’ Basically, this means you need to build high impact items which are quick or really easy to accomplish right after you’ve launched your website.

The Focus Metric

The focus metric for the harvest focus area is all about your team’s ability to increase their velocity during each sprint cycle. While it’s not exactly focusing on your users, this particular focus area is often the first time you or your team will be working in the continuous improvement stage. That being said, there are going to be some action items to implement using somewhat of a newer process.

Continuous Improvement

Here, you also need to focus on your team’s internal performance but at the same time, high impact wishlist items need to be executed. This is because it will set your team up for success in the other focus areas rather than slowing down the process.

To help you with this, here are three tactics to consider when you’re in the harvest focus area.

Harvest Focus Area: Tactic Examples

Tactic Example One: You’ll find that there are likely going to be a handful of wishlist items that you all agreed were high impact items, but were ‘nice to haves’ rather than ‘must haves.’ This means the features would have been great to have on your website, but they weren’t desperately needed right away.

During the launch pad website planning session, you all might have decided that while these wishlist items are important to build and implement, they could still be beneficial to build and use after the initial launch. So, this is the perfect time to make these items the priority again and get them all built to use.

Tactic Example Two: When your new website is live and genuine users are interacting with it, this is a good time to review the initial user data, performance and technical implementation. This is so that your team can quickly address any glaring issues that might pop up.

Here, you might find that you’re having technical issues with your website or even user experience problems. Despite it being a brand new website, problems can occur at any given time to always remain realistic about it. So, build in time and make sure your team quickly addresses any issues right away to avoid further problems.

Tactic Example Three: This might very well be the first time you or your team has ever come across GDD. If that’s the case, then it’s very likely that there are going to be plenty of areas to improve your process.

The harvest period in the establish theme is a good time to focus on your internal process improvements. This is so that you can wipe out any frustrations you’re having or challenges you’ve been facing. It’s also a great time to incorporate key process improvements each cycle so you’re not facing challenges time and time again.

The Goal of the Audience Focus Area

Following on from the harvest focus area, your next stop is the audience focus area. The goal here is for you to build a predictable and consistent flow of new visitors that are a good fit. The reasoning behind this is so that you’re able to gather feedback and data resulting in some valuable quick wins.

The Focus Metric

Here, the focus metric is for your team to work on improving month-month unique visitor growth. Basically, the aim is to get more unique visitors to your launch pad website.

The important thing to consider here is that if you or the strategist you’ve placed in charge of leading the new website is focusing on a specific area of the website, then you’ll only measure unique visitors to that specific area rather than the website in its entirety. This might include a particular page, for example.

Your website is unique, just like every other website out there. So right now you’re probably asking, ‘how many unique visitors do I actually need before I can move on to another focus area?’ The truth is, there’s no official rule on how many unique visitors you should aim for. A general threshold to consider is hitting around 3,000-5,000 monthly visitors to analyse the best and most accurate data. Either that or around 50-100 unique visitors on a daily basis.

The amount of traffic you need to make improvements all depends on what it is your team is improving.

Audience Focus Area: Tactic Examples

Tactic Example One: Invest in on-site SEO. If you’re trying to find new visitors that haven’t come across your website before, then having them find you through a search engine like Google or Bing is a valuable option.

So, creative ways will need to be found to boost SEO factors, the technical SEO aspects and even things like loading speeds of your website. It all sounds simple, but it helps massively.

Tactic Example Two: Focus your attention on having your content team build pillar pages and topic clusters. By creating topic clusters that cover a specific core topic in depth, the content on your website can solve problems for users by linking them to a centralised resource hub where they can find all the information they need - and more.

Also referred to as a content pillar, it’s simply a broad website page that covers a particular topic in great detail. This way, they won’t need to go anywhere else to get answers that will solve their problems.

Tactic Example Three: This tactic is beneficial for you if you have a bigger budget or if you’re working on a much shorter time frame. You can boost the work your team has completed in the previous step with paid advertising.

This is targeted at your personas directly so that it directs them to your website. If the other tactics aren’t helping you build traction quickly enough, then this could be a good way to speed up that process.

The Goal of the Value Focus Area

The final stop under the establish theme is the value focus area. Here, the goal is to ensure that all of your website’s major elements are helping your users solve their pain points and providing them remarkable value. This can include things like specific sections on your website or even relevant pages.

This step is where your team can finally return to the fundamental assumptions you made towards the beginning of the GDD process to validate if they were actually true. After that, you need to check that whatever has been built on your website does solve the fundamental assumptions.

We get it, it sounds like progress is very slow as you’re moving backwards, but that’s not the case. Instead, making sure that whatever is built is working perfectly will help you move forward much more efficiently towards other focus areas.

Think of it this way, if you skip a few steps and move on to the CRO focus area under the optimised theme right away because you’re frustrated, for example, then you could be wasting valuable time optimising something that your users don’t even care about in the first place. If anything, you’ll become more frustrated after wasting time that could have been better utilised elsewhere. So, this step is vital.

The Focus Metric

The focus metric of the value focus area is for your team to improve the net promoter score (NPS) associated with every single major element on your website. The NPS is a survey used to develop a deeper understanding of how valuable your users consider a particular tool - or even their overall experience on your website.

It’s actually rather simple. An NPS asks your users to vote on a scale of 1-10 on a variety of questions. It can be anything from asking how helpful they found something on your website or how likely they are to recommend it to a friend, for example.

The best time for your team to measure this is directly after a user interacts with something you’re trying to measure. It could be an inline page survey or it could even be a questionnaire that slides up from the bottom of the screen.

If you’re currently working in the value focus area, or you’re ready to move to this stage and need some tips beforehand, then consider the following.

Value Focus Area: Tactic Examples

Tactic Example One: Let’s say a user has responded to the initial question by the NPS. After this, follow up with a couple of clarifying questions to get more data. It could be asking them why they gave that particular score, or even asking them to tell you how you can improve.

The responses you get with the follow-up questions create patterns. The patterns you notice from those responses feed ideation efforts in the following sprint cycles you implement.

Tactic Example Two: Don’t just end the survey for the user once they’ve answered the question or provided a score. Set a benchmark for yourself and users that give an NPS of your benchmark number or higher and ask them if they want to leave a review that can be used on your website.

If there are users who are scoring you less than the benchmark number you’ve set, try and schedule a user interview with them so you can get a better understanding of who they are and what they didn’t like from your website. This allows you to make necessary changes if it’s a common issue.

Tactic Example Three: Validate whether or not your website actually possesses a brilliant solution for the users’ pain points. If your solution only scrapes the surface but doesn’t solve their problem, then there’s work to be done.

That’s why it’s important to turn certain features on your website into something remarkable so users are always leaving with their problems solved. A good way to validate this is to experiment with different variations until you notice some clear patterns. For example, if your website or content that has the solution is being shared a lot, then you know it’s working.

Tactic Example Four: Finally, taking advantage of an on-page chat solution is a good way to engage in conversation with your website’s users. This is hugely beneficial as you're able to give them exactly what they’re looking for and at the same time, you’re collecting qualitative feedback about what’s not right about a particular page.

Digital 22 Website Live Chat

If a user eventually clicks on your live chat, then it’s a good sign that the website hasn’t answered their query and they’re using the chat as a last resort. The fact they’re digging much deeper for help should give you a good indication on the changes your team can make to provide value to users.

And that’s all there is to the establish theme. Once you’ve launched your launch pad website, this theme is going to be extremely beneficial when it comes to gaining traction towards your new website so that you can collect data to make genuine and worthwhile improvements in the continuous improvement stage of the GDD process.

Take a Deeper Dive into the World of Growth-Driven Design

As mentioned, the establish theme is only one of three that are involved in the continuous improvement stage of the Growth-Driven Design process. GDD is now seen as the smarter and newer approach to website design. While it can seem a daunting prospect to get involved in, it doesn’t need to be and the statistics are there to prove that it truly is the best way to drive optimal results for your new website as part of your Inbound Marketing strategy.

To help you gain a much better understanding of GDD, information on the other two themes, how the process works and what you need to get started, we’ve created an in-depth helpful guide. Simply click on the link below to grab your free copy and see how you can bring in GDD to assist with your Inbound Marketing efforts.