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Design is…

Humans speak through languages and things speak through designs. It seems today that nobody claims to speak a foreign language they haven’t studied but everybody thinks they know design.

 

A quick image search on google of “design”, will probably get you these results: explosions of paint, illegible typography and patterns of many colors, images that poorly represent what design is.

 

The word design is very popular and is normally used to refer to the physical or visual appearance of objects. Design isn’t just about making things look appealing, or about usability, or even just delight…design is much more than that… It is about taking products from being usable to delightful, and then beyond that — to meaningful.

 

Design can influence the experience a user has with all of a company’s touchpoints. Ultimately, all these touchpoints and product experiences culminate in the overarching perception of a company’s brand — and design impacts all of this.

 

Design is also a way for us to deliver deep meaning to our customers through the experiences we craft. Forbes Agency Council described design as beyond aesthetics and transformative 

Design can influence the experience a user has with all of a company’s touchpoints.

Beyond Aesthetics

Much more than just the way something looks, design is a plan in and of itself. Arriving at the right design for the right company at the right time involves intensive research that gets to the heart of how a brand needs to engage with its market. In our experience, uncovering the ideal design strategy for a company begins by understanding the deeper roots of a business, its founding vision, core beliefs, user personas, differentiating factors, company goals and problems solved, to name just a few. 

 

Whether by an outside agency or in-house design or marketing team, the process must involve defining the communication challenge and developing solutions around it. For example, the question can be asked: why do customers use our product or service? Answers to this simple question can reveal the core reasons why users are drawn to a brand, which can then translate into a sales-boosting campaign.

 

Transformative Design

Realizing that design can be a powerful conversion tool with the ability to turn strategy into tangible business results, companies in the healthcare, technology, economics, transportation, and entertainment segments are leaning on and investing in optimized design strategies to support their next phase of growth.

 

According to Adobe’s State of Create 2016 report, 59% will choose to do business with a company over one of its competitors based on good design, and 45% have even paid more for a product or service with good design within the year leading up to the study.

 

Considering design as an integral part of the success of a business requires more than just curating creative assets. Successful design begins with an overall strategy that communicates messaging and usability to customers and the brand’s community. This integration of all aspects of a company’s DNA makes better design an investment that will deliver sustainable results.

 

The Consequence Of Bad Design

A top reason for implementing a strategic design initiative, where research and measurement are involved, is to avoid bad design. Consider a newly launching company, eager to get a website up and running to drive sales. Common pitfalls include underdeveloped content, poorly taken photography (or no visuals at all) and little or no thought about the customer journey. When a design is put together that lacks clarity and direction, it is unable to adequately represent the brand or company and leaves no room for engagement.

 

In Adobe’s report, 46% of people responded, “I will not purchase from a brand if its website or mobile experience is poorly designed,” and 50% admitted to judging companies based on their marketing material’s design quality.

 

From content to visual design, the strength of audience engagement is directly related to the strength of good design, as these efforts work to define a credible, trustworthy brand through consistency, predictability, and visibility.

 

Measuring Success

While it may seem the ROI of design is hard to measure, while it’s all too easy to see the costs involved to create it, consider the organic and far-reaching, positive effects. From bolstering market share to generating jobs, we have witnessed good design solidify a company’s standing in the marketplace. Following a Design In Business report from Accenture Strategy, “‘ Design-alert’ businesses achieve a 125% return on their design-related investments.”

 

The fact is, good design should function. Known for his innovative automobile designs for BMW and other iconic brands, Henrik Fisker put it well by saying, “If design isn’t profitable, then it’s art.” Regardless of size, investing at scale in this critical element is essential in order to compete with visible companies that have design-driven values. Through research, questioning, and implementation, a strategy can be developed with which to build an aligning design process for scalable engagement.

 

The focus has shifted. We should understand that design is not simply about creating usable components and product designs, design is about creating works that impact the perception of an entire brand and customer experiences.

Yinka Babajide
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