Growth Design: The Path to the Future of Product Design that Every Business Should Follow

Sep 17, 2021 - 16 Minutes read
Growth Design: The Path to the Future of Product Design that Every Business Should Follow

What is Growth Design?

It’s important to grow the right way, no matter what branch of business you are into. That means keeping your current users engaged while taking steps to ensure new visitors feel welcome and are able to find what they’re looking for through a user-friendly site with intuitive features.

In the world of web design, growth designers are on a mission to make sites easier and more intuitive for new visitors. They understand that your current customer base is important, but it’s just as vital to not get caught up in keeping them engaged through advertising ploys and focus instead all efforts into making sure people want to return again so they can tell their friends about how great you site was.

So, what’s the deal with growth design? Is it just some emerging (read passing) trend in technology or is there something more to this role? From where we stand, it appears to be a relatively unexplored design subset, which can be seen as one that's shaping up quickly but hasn't been fully fleshed out yet.

Growth hacking is about making the user experience as painless and intuitive as possible for new visitors to understand, while still being engaging enough that they want more. If you're trying to grow your business using traditional marketing methods without leveraging web design skillsets or knowledge of what makes sites easy-to use (less steps), then those efforts will surely suffer.

Growth design is the marriage between business goals and better user experienceSource:

Is drawing up a growth strategy easy?

That depends. Are you aiming for real growth or are you willing to just settle for continuity? Depending on what your priority is, drawing up a workable strategy becomes easier, unless you may have mixed up both these goals as one and the same.

It's no secret that growth has become the new black. To grow your business, you need a website with unique features not found on other sites in order to create specific goals and objectives for customers who come from different backgrounds or industries than yours. Designing this type of site takes more than just designing something pretty - it needs strategy too.

As things go, we’d like to enlighten you on what "growth design" is all about as well as squeeze in some industry-grade techniques that you can follow to make strategies like a boss. Needless to say, once you have grasped the fundamentals of this design approach, your designers will be able to make decisions independently without client instructions.

Growth hacking strategies are irreplaceable in finding the most effective ways to grow your businessSource:

How design and growth got intertwined spontaneously

Design is fundamentally about solving problems, which means it’s the job of designers to ensure that their products are able to help users overcome their pain points. Somewhere along the way, the mission of fulfilling users' wishes align with company goals, giving way to design thinking for the creation of solutions to problems that customers face.

“A good idea is something that does not solve just one single problem, but rather can solve multiple problems at once.” — Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo (Creator & Designer of Mario, Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong)

The designers' responsibility is to improve these solutions for both short term and long-term gains while understanding how companies think about growth - understand what metrics they use when looking at it from an economic perspective (i.e., ROI). This will allow them to harness creative skills and problem-solving personalities that’s critical to overcoming challenges without even as much as a flinch.

UX Designers are in high demand for startups and enterprises vying for leading positions in the competitive game. With so many new businesses popping up every day, designers need a way into this landscape if they want any hope at all--and there's no better time than now with big companies being beat down left and right by smaller competitors looking not just to steal their customers but also take over entire industries themselves.

According to an estimate made by Forrester Research, the size of the global design industry is pegged at a whopping $162 billion and is projected to grow another 20% in 2021.

The job market has been booming thanks largely due to people’s belief that innovation will always be necessary. However, as soon as growth starts slowing, there’s a drag felt someplace else as well (often prior), which leaves everyone wondering: where did things go wrong? when did they neglect design talent or stop innovating altogether?

Growth is inevitable

The need for innovative thinking goes hand-in-hand with entrepreneurship or else new businesses will fall behind their competition - especially if enterprises are serious about remaining on top of innovation itself. If there is a measuring scale for the growth of a company, especially a design agency, it’s exactly that.

All businesses have a starting point - the moment of their inception. From thereon, either the business buckles under pressure (competition) and disappears into commercial oblivion or rises among its peers and slams into the high striker’s bell.

A successful startup will always need more than just good ideas. It’ll also need to take smart decisions early on, such as hiring employees who share similar goals so work effort won't go wasted due to miscommunications between them later down.

Scalability is an integral part of business growth and it should happen in a way that ensures resources are not wasted. Scaled companies need more people to do the work and manage those on their team or risk losing valuable time+talent due to mismanagement of employees' skillsets. They also have plans for when too much growth has been achieved (timing).

Building a scalable product with maximum flexibility will help you avoid wastage of time and resourcesSource:

The influence of design on growth

Design thinkers are always on looking out for new ways to improve the product experience. Their goal - to rope in as many new users as they can, eventually leading to increased conversion rate. The more users there are for an application, greater the chances are for a better user experience that can trigger quick conversions.

The product owner's ultimate goal is to have a thriving community of users and customers. That’s possible when a new user interacts with the product and returns to it shortly after. To increase the number of returning users is a manifestation of that ultimate goal.

Returning users don’t just signify interaction with the product, they imply engagement with the product as well, more often than not even recommending it to others based on their pleasant user experience. Some of the ones they recommend the product to further recommend it even as the referrals continue, increasing the chances for higher conversion rate.

What is design thinking? It's a mindset that encourages you to break down complex problems into simpler ones. Designers build features by starting with their end goal in mind before actually designing how they will get there step-by-step.

The 5 stages of design thinking process that leads to innovative thinking and problem solvingSource:

It is a way of thinking about problems that involves using creative insight and intuition to test new ideas. This process of design building enables users to accomplish their tasks or goals more efficiently than before. Here’s a good read on how to design solutions that people will grow to love.

You see, design is a continuous process of adjustment and evolution. Even after an agency calls it a wrap on a project, the design team continues reiterating to keep improving what they have done with a product. This makes it convenient for changes or new users to adapt seamlessly with the product devoid of any challenges whatsoever.

Growth design: The next big thing?

A lot of great things are happening in the tech industry, and one area that has perceptibly seen quite a bit of action in a while is the design frontline. More and more tech companies want their products to be used as much and as often as possible instead of looking at merely making sales.

While the primary goal of such a company is and will always be high yielding revenues, things are changing as more companies are looking out for designers who can also be sales-oriented. A trend that seems to indicate that it’s time the focus was shifted from one or two particular disciplines just because that’s what they were trained in.

Yes, designers need to be salespeople, not to make actual sales of products or services, but to sell their ideas - ideas that they would like users to come around to. And product is the new way for designers to impact revenue, creating an opportunity through its growth to put designers in charge of understanding, practicing and mastering growth design so they can start owning a line of their own beyond marketing.

Applying growth design: The trodden path

Now, here’s the thing - designers need to be aware of how their work impacts the company and what their contributions are in the revenue generation. For example, if it’s a design-centric company that's trying to make money through advertising and marketing then it's very important to not only know what users like but also to have an understanding of these channels so they can influence decision making within them.

A simple way that a designer can find these answers would be to discuss with decision makers in the company, especially with someone in the finance department so the information can be used when designing something in order to impact those numbers positively.

If you’re a designer, asking yourself who the user is will help you understand them better. What are their goals and needs? This will help you get a sense of the value that users will place on your product so you can be more in tune with a product-led growth objective.

Design reading can be an extremely enriching and stimulating pursuit. Although, what good is design if you don't know how it works? As with any other art form, the more experience one has under their belt greater is their skillset, which translates to better workmanship for them and their clients alike.

Designers who want to succeed in business should inculcate not just the design skills, but also communication and sales abilities. Following the success stories of companies that made huge impacts in the design world, such as Apple, Facebook and Microsoft is a great way to be inspired. And while we’re on the subject of inspiration, here are five brands that showed the world how design thinking can pay off.

The key insight here: Growth design is a great way for any UX designer to streamline their creative process and communicate with business partners. It also requires an understanding of marketing and sales strategies because without design skills and knowledge of sales strategies working together nothing will ever change hands or dollars moving from one person into another’s pockets.

Growth design best practices

Alright now, let’s get to the good part, shall we? But before that, let me quickly throw a few warning signs at you so you don’t make these mistakes when you start off, especially if you’re designing a website or getting one designed.

  • Most websites have web forms, including registration or sign-up forms to collect new data. While it’s a good strategy to keep them in your sights when the time comes to share product launches and updates, make sure the web forms are uncomplicated to fill up and don’t take up much of the users' time.
    Here are some helpful tips to design better web forms and lower user abandonment.
  • Passwords for registration forms that are too complex with the rules can also throw users off and force them to abandon, although abandonment is a bit unusual. In any case, read this to learn how to stop passwords from forcing users to abandon account creation forms.
  • This one should be an absolute no-no for eCommerce website owners in particular. Never burden your users with overchoice or what is more commonly known as choice overload.
    Choice overload effect, as opposed to a simple but informative app or website can have severely negative influence on the visitors forcing them to never return again. Just as in life, too many choices can be a stressful situation, especially when a visitor is simply seeking a user-friendly experience.
    In case you have a website that’s already making this mistake, read this informative article to find out how you can stop losing sales because of too many choices to customers.
  • And finally, the most common and incredibly irritating blunder that many app and website owners keep committing - designing cluttered and unorganized interfaces. What must it take to make them understand that users simply don’t like apps or websites that are tacky and unorganized?
    It’s your responsibility to make the user experience as pleasant as possible, not send the visitors on a wild goose chase to find the information or product they’re looking for hidden somewhere in a corner of the interface.

Right! Now, that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to the growth design best practices that should become your everyday mantra. And they are:

1. Amplify the user experience before everything else

What better way to grow your audience base than by making it easy for them to explore your app/website? Your website should be friendly and welcoming, with an easily understandable interface for optimal user experience.

It may seem like a no-brainer but often times updates, such as redesigns, are made to apps and websites without taking this important factor into consideration, which can lead down frustrating paths for both new users as well as regulars on site.

Imagine you walking into a store that you’ve been visiting for months, completely rearranged. Wouldn’t you feel lost, unsure of what’s where anymore? That’s what you don’t want your website visitors to feel like, trust me.

Make sure any updates or redesigns have been thoughtfully planned so everyone has enough information at their disposal. Here are some tips that you can follow if you’re looking at redesigning your interface without ticking off your current users.

2. Simplify the user experience journey

When your users can't figure out what you want them to do or how your site works, it can be a pretty overwhelming experience for them. The more steps they have to go through in a confusing process with even lesser directions or clear intentions, more the chances that it will make them leave quickly with no chance of returning at all.

The clarity factor plays heavily into our intentions. Would someone prefer a website where everything just happens naturally because there were no extra obstructions during browsing sessions vs one where every single step needed clarification? I think we all know how everybody would answer that.

If your website has too many steps/choices on how users can take action, it will confuse them rather than guide them through their next course of action. Make your interface as simple as possible with fewer steps or choices in the user experience journey. Mega menus can be an effective way to make site navigation easier.

 An example of mega menu design that can make site navigation easier Source:

3. Your UX should be human-centered, not search engine-centered

SEO is important, but don't forget that what really matters to you are your users. If you want to grow as a company, don't focus on Google's algorithm or try to please them by making sure everything is perfect. 

People that really matter - the ones who are going to help fuel growth once they've signed onto an idea or site - will fall through the cracks if you ignore them. Make sure not only does each page have great content designed around human beings instead of just algorithms, but must also offer some kind of positive user experience.

Human-centered design should be your design path in your quest for the most effective problem-solving approaches.

4. Make your interface usable, not candy-eyed

Many designers are often so hell bent on creating a flawless website that they miss out on what users actually want. Your task should be to make it possible for people who visit your page to have an enjoyable experience instead of focusing too much time and effort into making everything seem amazing but not actually helping anyone.

Usability should be on your mind at all times when you design a product for your users. Without a functional interface, it doesn’t really mean anything even if you may end up designing the most impressive looking app or website ever.

And as the principles of design thinking go, test and iterate as many times as you have to improving along the way before you officially launch it in the market. Here's a list of UX case studies that should inspire you to power up your UX design game.

5. Be honest, be transparent

If simply driving more sales through subscriptions is your goal, never think that you can hold up the charade of newsletters and mailing lists too long in the garb of being user-oriented. Pretty soon your users will see through that ruse.

Whatever your intentions are, it’s best to spill them out in the open before you eventually lose their faith and them as well. If you’ve taken the path of growth-design, then you have to understand that you need to be transparent with the users for them to stay loyal to you.

At all costs, avoid shady business practices like using false advertising claims & misleading advertisement images. Instead focus all efforts into transparency, which will ultimately lead to a healthy relationship between you and your customers.


Are you frustrated with the number of users that leave your app or website after just one visit? Step into our world of design innovations and we'll show you how to get their attention, capture more data for conversion and create a better user experience. Or better still - Let us do it for you!

0707 has been providing design solutions to businesses across multiple industries for over a decade now. Write to us confidently with your project idea and we’ll fix up a meeting with our highly-skilled UX and web designers at the earliest.


Manab J Kharkatary