Trail 9 Case Study: Growth Driven Design

Welcome to our first ever Trail 9 Case Studies post! That's right, folks— we have a few different blog post series circulating right now, including our 'Trail 9 Asks' series and our regular stand-alone blog posts. In this new series, we'll be describing one of our past or current projects in each article. We want to describe what kind of work we do, so YOU, our audience, can get to know us better. And, they come with some pretty good stories!

So today, we describe a web project with a freight forwarding company that we did a couple of years ago. It was a great project, and we're especially excited to write about it because it's an awesome example of the type of growth driven design (GDD) that we do here at Trail 9.

But wait... what's growth driven design?!

Growth Driven Design (GDD) is a method of designing and building websites that are improved and refined over time, as opposed to carrying out a traditional one-time design project. Typically, these dynamic websites begin with a standard five-page layout. Then, piece by piece, they're embellished with new and different functionalities that improve your business's processes.

So, over time, your website becomes the central hub for both your digital marketing AND your business practices online. The goal is to have control over everything in one convenient place, with just one login per person, making content maintenance simple and efficient for both you and your team.

As each project is made up of a series of steps, we only implement a new step when you're ready for us to. This way, the project is less rushed overall, and it's more financially efficient— instead of one lump sum, services are charged a bit at a time. And, prices and plans are always in flux, because changes can be made at any time throughout the process! You’re not locked into plans that were made months ago; you can always revisit ideas.

So, there are a lot of benefits to using growth driven design for your web project, and the freight forwarding project was no exception. Let’s get to it!


For this project, we started by building a standard five-page website. What the company needed first and most was to get control of their website. Their previous website was built on Joomla, a Content Management System (CMS), but the people that built it had locked them out of everything— they couldn't access any of their content! So, we gave them control over their new website using Drupal, another CMS that we recommend. Then, they were able to add their own pages and create general content.

Online TestimonialsNext, we expanded on the new website by adding a blog to improve their search engine optimization (SEO) and make the website more dynamic rather than static. That way, they were able to regularly generate content, which was logged by search engines like Google to make their website easier to find. We then added functionality for their business's review and testimonial entry and modification, so the company could manage what reviews were shown on their website. By design, the reviews and testimonials would also rotate through different parts of the website while visitors browsed.

After that, we added a contact form to the website. But, it wasn't your standard contact form with one generic place to call and possibly a random message box— it was a unique concept. Instead of having just one set of contact information visible for EVERY visitor to call or email, there were multiple options given. And, based on the goals that visitors entered into various prompts, they were automatically matched with the best contact information for their individual needs. They were then given the phone number and email address of those company members, and they could call right then and there. Or, if they chose, they could fill out a corresponding contact form which would then be automatically emailed to that specific company member. So, clients were able to contact the appropriate person quickly, and the company was able to manage their discussions better and more efficiently.


The next phase of the project was to create a customer portal. As the company we were working with specialized in freight forwarding, they were responsible for getting all of the freights from their clients’ locations to whatever destinations were given. And, they didn't just stay in North America— they also worked with global shipments! It was a lot to keep track of, and they wanted their customers to be able to check the status of their shipments quickly and easily whenever they wanted.

The customer portal allowed their clients to check the status of their freight deliveries, to find out where they were in route and when they were delivered. They had the option of either remaining logged out, so they could see vague delivery statuses, or of logging in, so they could see all of their personal shipment’s detailed information. In addition, we set up automatic emails, so that the portal could email clients automatically with updated information and alerts about their shipments.

There was also a plan in the works to build a phone app to go with the portal. But, we realized in time that it likely wasn't worth it for the company to pay $5,000-10,000 in app development just to send their clients' phones a different type of delivery notification, as the email function was already working well. The company agreed with us, and they ended up saving a lot of money!

While working on projects with our clients, we always keep an eye out for unnecessary costs associated with their online business practices. If we find any, we research better and more affordable methods, and we let them know what we've found. We're especially focused on eliminating unnecessary licensing costs.


Once the portal was finished, our next step was to integrate the website and portal with the third-party tool that the company used for shipments. That way, they were only managing one data set— they would update information in the tool, and the website and portal would be automatically updated. Their clients would be alerted about their shipments automatically from there, so the company really only needed to update the information in their third-party shipment tool, like they were already doing. Everything else was taken care of from there, through automation.

Our goal was to automate everything to make it easier for the people within the company to manage, as well as make it easier for their clients to manage their orders.


Our final phase of the project was to build a custom quote tool for the company’s website. With the quote tool, website visitors could fill out the specifications of the packages they were needing to ship, and the tool would generate an estimate of their final shipping cost.

Besides offering a useful tool for visitors to plan out their expenses, the tool was also meant to capture the lead information entered, like names and email addresses, so that the company could easily begin nurturing their new prospects and add them to their sales cycle.


This was a full project, with a ton of fun add-ons! Let's recap:

First, we gave the company full control of their website, as they couldn't even access it before. We used Drupal, a robust content management system, where they had the ability to add and maintain their own content.

We began with a brochure-style website and incrementally built it out, adapting with their business practices, true to growth driven design. We then added a blog to improve their SEO and make their website more dynamic, followed by review and testimonial functionality. Then, we set up a customer portal so that their customers were able to check their shipments. We integrated everything with their third-party shipment tool, so they had much less to manage digitally; everything was in one convenient place. Finally, we added a custom quote tool to draw visitors and capture leads, boosting their digital marketing efficiency.

Overall, it was a great project! And we think it's a good representation of what we like to do here at Trail 9. We focus on improving your business's online practices!