Accelerating Digital Growth at Hardens.com - The Trusted Guide To The Most Notable Restaurants in the UK


For 25 years running, Harden’s has been collecting and curating tens of thousands of reviews from ‘ordinary’ restaurant-goers.

They tell Harden’s about their best and worst experiences of the last 12 months. These results then go to form a digital experience as well as a printed guide.

Harden’s is a stalwart of the restaurant industry and is described as the “Gastronome’s bible” by the Evening Standard.

The challenge

Harden’s approached the DigitalLitmus team with the brief of defining and executing a digital marketing strategy. Harden’s were looking for an overall increase in site traffic as well as the identification and execution of cost-effective channels for user acquisition.

After initial analysis, it was agreed that taking a step back and carrying out a strategic growth review was the best approach. The aim of the review was to develop customer, product, and marketing insights to shape an effective roadmap for digital growth.

Our solution

Digital Growth Strategy

To accelerate digital growth, we need a concrete growth roadmap. To create the roadmap, we need a full understanding of the business, customer, and product.

We ran a rapid series of workshops with the Harden’s stakeholders to explore the digital business from end-to-end. We covered a huge amount of ground in a very short space of time.

We dug deep into diverse areas such as the brand, customer, products, technology, and commercial models.

From the workshops and subsequent analysis, we were able to devise a programme of work to lay the foundations for the digital business to prepare it for accelerated growth.

Customer insight and positioning

From the workshops we identified that the highest priority activity was to develop a deeper understanding of the Hardens.com audience.

To generate this customer insight, we ran on-site qualitative surveys on Hardens.com as well a Net Promoter Score survey.

The surveys gave us a clear picture of customer satisfaction levels. They highlighted areas for product improvement as well as areas of the product that customers were very happy with.

We carried out Google Analytics analysis and deployed a number of sophisticated user behaviour tracking tools. These provided us with a quantitative picture of the Harden’s customer and how they were behaving online.

To add the final piece to the customer insight jigsaw, we ran remote user testing sessions. These were invaluable, showing us exactly how users were interacting with the product whilst sharing their thoughts and feelings about the experience.

Based on the customer insights generated, we created a series of target personas. These archetypes gave the team a crystallisation of the customer to help inform decision-making.

Finally, we crafted a new Hardens.com value proposition. We aligned the new value proposition with the customer needs identified in the target personas.

Monetisation analysis

As the Harden’s business has been around for 25 years it had already developed a variety of different approaches to monetisation.

Harden’s wanted to re-focus their monetisation strategy to find the most efficient and scalable approach to the monetisation of their product.

We identified all of the monetisation routes the were currently in play as well as possible new routes. These were analysed in terms of their strengths and weaknesses and then prioritised.

The individual strategies were debated and then a final overarching monetisation strategy was agreed.

Redesign of key user journeys

During the customer insight and positioning work, it was identified that there were a number of key product barriers to growth.

Users were struggling with certain aspects of the product and the overall look and feel wasn’t in line with the Harden’s brand.

Three key user journeys were identified as being the highest priority areas to fix. Building on the user research and product analysis we worked closely with the Harden’s team to redesign the user journeys.

The Harden’s homepage was redesigned to give a cleaner look-and-feel as well as incorporating the new value proposition.

We simplified the restaurant search experience and designed a more contemporary map-led solution to encourage discovery and increase user engagement.

Finally we redesigned the restaurant detail page to incorporate more survey information and optimise the desired user behaviour.


We’ve now laid the foundation for digital growth for Hardens.com and are looking forward to moving into the next phase of growth roadmap execution.



Product Strategy
Marketing Strategy
UX Research & Design