What is design worth?

“Good design is good business” – a wise man once said. Arrogantly, whether you like it or not, the element of beauty could be the cause for a product, a service, an experience or a person to be given primary attention. This is evident in our daily lives. One sees a beautiful person walking down the street, a perfectly baked cake with flawless icing design, a funky design of an app that allows you to comfortably order food without having to call the restaurant, an immaculately designed house, the most impressive leather jacket you could lay your eyes on … and the list goes on.

What do the above have in common? Certainly not their design elements as the element of beauty is more than just subjective. Even though something might not match with what your design-style is – the fact that something was made tenderly, artistically and with the utmost attentive detailing, without a doubt does that immediately place the object in question on a pedestal compared to peering objects.

Our consistent lust for beauty is a distinct characteristic within human nature and it is no different for businesses. Successful business owners know this well and design’s impact on business can no longer be questioned. Design opens up valuable opportunities for businesses. Its importance is often underestimated, but good design can bring some significant business benefits. However one begs the question, what is the worth of design?

The business benefits of design

Evidence shows that using design improves business performance. Businesses that undervalue the importance of design may be missing vital opportunities as design can bring a range of commercial benefits if used systematically across your business.

Good design makes a strong first impression
– reduced time to market for new products and services

Good design helps your business stand out
– improved market position relative to your competitors

Good design builds customer relationships
– greater customer loyalty and fewer customer complaints

Good design keeps your website easy to use
– a stronger UX/UI

Good design promotes brand consistency
– a stronger identity for your business

Good design is the key to social media success
– the ability to create new products and services and open up new markets

Good design makes you money
– increased sales of your products or services

The effective use of design gives customers a reason for buying from you and not from your competitors. It’s a valuable source of differentiation – a well-designed product or service will stand out from the competition. Therefore you:

Design for your customer

Products and services are added value by design. Well designed products that can offer greater usability, increased functionality and improved aesthetics will play better in terms of customers willing to pay more for such products.

Design for efficiency

As well as enhancing the products and services you sell, design can also improve the way your business operates – the efficiency of its processes, the cost-effectiveness of the raw materials it uses, the quality of its packaging.

Make design part of your business strategy

Design covers much more than just the outward appearance of products or the graphic elements of things such as your website, packaging and marketing materials. It plays a part in nearly every aspect of what most businesses do.

A good idea would be to start off by conducting a design audit – tackling areas such as your brand, your core product/services, your operational processes and your customer interaction processes. Once that is done, you could analyse what role design plays in them and optimise accordingly. There may be opportunities to use design to make your business more efficient and to add value to your products and services for your customers.

As mentioned before, the power of the design element is often overlooked. If not completely overlooked then merely adapted as a finishing touch in product or service development. This means that it will only be implemented after the strategy has been formulated and key decisions would have been made and budgets allocated.

Successful businesses include design as part of their business strategy from the outset. This is because involving design at an early stage can allow you to be frugal and economical and result in a better offering and a better experience for your customers from the very beginning of their interaction with your brand and thus developing brand trustworthiness from a very early stage. This goes back to what we were saying about good impressions – and it is much easier to continue to develop good trustworthiness from a primarily solid foundation rather than having to build trust from a mediocre or bad first brand impression.

A professional designer is not always needed. Obviously if you’re a small company with limited internal resources or your company drifts somewhat far off from the design/creative industries – it is always wise to seek external help either from a design consultant or from a digital agency as a whole.

Yes,external outsourcing will be a cost but you must look at it as an investment which will reap business benefits and ultimately increase sales. They would be able to offer you insight into how design can be implemented in the initial strategy rather than taking a midway, short term approach and their expertise will guide you in performing certain actions that you would not have normally approached. Even making minor amendments for short term reaps would be able to prove beneficial.

Your first steps to using design more strategically should include:

– Pinpointing where and how design is currently being used within your business
– Identifying ways of improving the design process – such as increasing
management involvement or using a professional design consultant/agency
– Looking for areas of your business where design opportunities are being
– Making sure design considerations are featured in all your business planning
meetings and documents
– Conducting market research to ensure you know what your customers need

We will open up more on the design element in articles to come.