What is Growth Design?

Growth Design is becoming the buzz word for many businesses both big and small. So what is it? And can you use it to accelerate the growth of your business.

‘Growth design’ is a fairly recent term. As such it’s understandable that many people have never heard it before, and quite frankly have no idea what it means. So let me explain…


I think we’re all pretty clear on what growth means. It means the expansion of something beyond its current state. And we’ll talk about that in a little bit more detail in terms of different areas of growth for business. 


For some reason ‘Design’ is one of those strange words that no one seems to really agree on what it means. I’ve asked probably hundreds of people over the years, what does design mean for them? And I’ve yet to receive the same answer twice. I wrote a whole book on this (The Future is Intangible), but to sum it up in just one sentence:

Design: The creation of goods, products or service for the benefit of others.

As an example one of my favourite designers is Madonna. Many people wouldn’t think of Madonna as a designer, she absolutely is. She has evolved her music over decades using different music producers, including new genres, co-singers etc. to continually evolve and craft her product for her audience.

Growth Design:

So Growth Design is making enhancements to your goods, products, services, and business that will lead to measurable Growth. Most frequently this directly related to business income, but it can also include other key performance metrics such as;

  • Income
  • Profit (notable different to income)
  • Clicks
  • Views
  • Open-rates
  • Sign-ups
  • Engagement
  • etc.

Growth Design Process:

Whilst their is some confusion on the phrase, the process is surprisingly straight-forward. There’s 3 clear steps to this; Idea, Test and Review.

Step 1: Idea

Create a hypothesis (idea), that you believe will lead to measurable growth. Let’s change X to Y, because we think more people will do Z.

Step 2: Test

Complete the change and run the ‘test’. That might be as simple as changing the headline on a blog page, to the creation of totally new product category. Obviously the test will change depending the idea being explored. 

Tip: The goal is to reach a conclusion as swiftly as possible and wherever possible you want to achieve that the least investment of time or money that you can.

Step 3: Review

Simply review the data from the test and reach your conclusion. Your conclusion is likely to be;

  • Fail – roll-back the change
  • Win – implement. Your test may have been achieved without completing all the tasks for a full implementation. If so it’s now time to complete and Go-Live with the full implementation.
  • In-conclusive. The test may not be conclusive. Perhaps the data is unclear, or results are mathematically insignificant. You may wish to continue the test, or attempt to test in a different way.

Continual Growth:

So once you’ve completed those three steps it often leads you to a further hypothesis (idea). Sometimes however you might reach a conclusion that there wasn’t much movement on that change, this aspect may already be highly optimised. So it may be better for business growth to turn your attention to another part of the business.

About the author

Simon K Williams

Entrepreneur, Author and Business-Architect. Working at the inter-section of design, technology & marketing.