The Importance of Design in Business: Design Thinking and Performance

design in business

It’s easy to underestimate the importance of design in business. However, a strong approach to design has a major impact on a brand and comes with some serious business benefits.

Design thinking is used for everything from the generation of new product ideas to finding out more about your target audience. Hence design decisions dramatically impact the future of your business and your profitability.

So, what is design thinking?

Design is more than simply choosing the right color scheme for your website, crafting images including a logo, or laying out an attractive website.

With the right approach, design decisions improve efficiency, drive your marketing campaigns, and increase your profits. If you’re overlooking the importance of design for your business, here are some key areas to think about that could change the way that you view your brand and its future.

design in business

Image courtesy of William Ivan

Competitor distancing on your website

Design thinking is all about being human. The methodology focuses on three essential aspects: empathy and human centeredness, ideation, prototyping and experimentation.  When done correctly, it helps businesses effectively manage risks, resulting from introduction of new ideas needed to redesign a dying website. [dvg]

Good website design is important, so it’s worth spending time to get it right. Just crafting a “pretty” website isn’t enough. You need to consider many areas of website design, including everything from the customer journey to back-end SEO, which are vital components of modern websites.

While many businesses spend a lot of time on their website design, it is important to remember the technical components as much as the visually appealing ones. The right website design decision helps distance your business from its competitors and encourages consumers to buy from you, as well as make you more visible on search engine results pages.

Using design to boost business strategies

Design strategy refers to an integrated planning process that examines the relationships between how design and business may complement one another. Simply put, the goal is to merge the business objective with creative solutions that moves beyond just aesthetics. It could be described as inventing a language to express your client’s philosophy, products or services more clearly. [source]

When facing a business decision, one of the first things to consider is design. Instead, design choices are often only considered once important decisions are made and a budget established.

The design should form the foundation of your business strategy. Use design for:

  • Solving existing problems and ongoing challenges
  • Determining current benefits and successes to be leveraged
  • Discovering unmet client/customer needs
  • Changing client/customer behaviors and attitudes
  • Find emerging ideas and trends
  • Uncover opportunities to differentiate

Design in business gives you the opportunity to build your business so it has the maximum impact. It isn’t just about customer or employee experience, however, it’s about conveying the right information — information that affects attitudes and motivates positive action.

Think about the tools that you use to guide your decisions as a consumer and as a business owner. Their value is dependant on their design. There’s little point in creating a software tool to analyze your data if you fail to create a dashboard design that is easy to read and easy to pull the right insights from. Never make business decisions without considering how the design will improve the impact for you and your customers.

Products and design

Businesses need to know what their customers want and the more you know about your customers, the problems they face, and unmet needs, the easier it is to design products they want and demonstrate the superiority of those products with marketing messages that drive sales.

When it comes to product development, design is a critical factor throughout the planning process. By using customer research and data, you can build the products that your audience needs, which makes them easier to sell. This will mean:

  • In-depth research into your audience
  • Concept development and design
  • Identifying the production process
  • Prototype creation
  • Trialing the product
  • Making design changes according to feedback

Think about the iPod. It benefited from solving a real problem faced by consumers — carrying around a bulky player and a bunch of CDs. The CDs got scratched and the device wasn’t good when the users were moving, rather than being stationary. iPods solved those problems. Better, the design was sleek, intuitive, and distinctive.

The important thing to remember when designing a new product is that the right designs can not only be of value to your existing audience but can also attract entirely new audiences to your online or offline store. Always ensure that design acts as the foundation of new product decisions.

More success through design

You need to design everything for your business, from your website, your products, your logo, and your growth strategies with a single goal. That goal must be measurable and testable.

Without proper metrics and analysis, you have no idea if your design decisions are successful, which elements contributed to that success, and how additional tweaks might improve success.

A good example comes from product design. To measure the success of your new product you need to examine metrics like CTRs and sales figures. For website design, your bounce rate is likey the most valuable indicator of your design success. However, you will also need to include some additional factors, including:

  • The cost of the project
  • The timescale from initial proposal to implementation and analysis
  • Communication and cooperation between departments

Goal setting is a proven way to improve business management, so it’s smart to have your targets identified well in advance of implementation. Discuss the design revisions at every stage of development and carry out a full needs review once the data is in. Businesses that fail to act on lessons learned are doomed to repeat mistakes, and it is only through the thorough analysis of your design decisions that you are able to improve decision making in the future.

Design covers a broad range of business elements and is more than making aesthetic choices for your website, product packaging, or your marketing. Design is at the core of every part of the modern business, and when factored into your business strategies from the outset, it can benefit your brand in a wide variety of ways. Design isn’t just about the visual look of your business. It’s just as much about designing your business itself so that it runs as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible.

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