How Growth Designers at Webflow Validate,then Build

Conversations
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March 18, 2022

A conversation with Ran Liu, Growth Product Designer at Webflow

There are two types of goals for a product—business goals, and user goals. Growth Product Designers believe in maximizing the value at the intersection of the two, using design to create value for users while improving business metrics.

Ran Liu is Growth Product Designer extraordinaire at Webflow. Her career includes roles at Amplitude and Adobe where she spearheaded growth experiments, often resulting in double digit increases in business metrics.

“I believe all product design will eventually be more like Growth Design,” says Ran. “If you're not designing for your business growth, why are you doing it?”

Growth Designers follow an iterative approach to launching a final product—they ship faster, experiment more, test ideas early and often before making a big bet.

“Nobody can predict how to increase a business metric. Growth Designers experiment with many directions quickly & cheaply to see which is more promising,” says Ran.

Identifying Assumptions

When Ran’s team was faced with the goal of increasing activation rates for Webflow, they started by identifying the assumptions underlying their potential solution.

“We thought pre-built layouts would be a good stepping stone for our new users but before we even built or designed anything, we wanted to validate [the underlying assumptions].”

Webflow already had some layouts in place, but new users weren’t using them. The team believed that layouts were valuable, but there were other reasons users weren’t adopting them. To know if they were right, they had to define and test 3 key assumptions.

We believe that Webflow layouts aren’t being used because:

  1. Existing layouts aren’t discoverable
  2. Users want more variety in layouts
  3. Users want better quality layouts

How to Use a Single Dot to 2X Feature Usage

Ran’s team started by testing assumption #1: Discoverability.

“What we're looking for in that experiment isif people see existing layouts, are they going to use them?”

They started with the simplest experiment possible—no build, not even a design—just a single blinking dot on the layouts tab so that new users would notice them.

Layouts usage doubled.

This was evidence: when people discovered layouts, they wanted to use them.

“That gave us a signal to move forward and start designing for better and more layouts for the next iteration.”

Iteration, iteration, iteration

Emboldened by evidence that layouts were useful for users, the team released iteration #2—35 new layouts with greater prominence for users.

They looked at the data—how was feature adoption trending? Were people trying layouts and abandoning them, or adding multiple layouts to their projects?

They continued to see an increase in adoption—not only were more people using layouts, but there were more repeat users—layouts were actually useful for users!

Finally, we build

Only after validating their assumptions via the first two experiments, did the Webflow team decide to truly invest behind pre-built layouts.

“If it's a bad idea or it's not going to work, we don't want to over invest in it. So the first two iterations are just for validation.”

Iteration 3 was the clean iteration—a polished, more prominent version of layouts with more & better options for their users.

“We're continuing to see good usage. And we're also starting to see the business metric move,” says Ran.

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