The added value of design
Read more by Martijn Krenn
When people think of design, they usually think about simply adding visual context to (written) content and making things beautiful. And even though this is certainly part of it, design encompasses a lot more than merely making content beautiful. Designers create solutions to specific problems and the international council of design states that ‘they strive to do more with less, they maximise economy (of materials, of investment, of energy, etc.) ‘
To us, design is about adding value. Value for the company, sure, but more so for the customers, the end users. In our (humble) opinion, any designer worth their salt adds value through designing solutions: a solution to eliminate friction; a solution to help set priorities; a solution to increase conversion; a solution to streamline the customer journey; a solution to create alignment, etc.
How design adds value
The higher in the organization the designer can operate, the more value is added. This is called the maturity of design, or, in other words, the level to which design is attuned to the values, day-to-day operations, and potential problems of an organization. If you start small but dream big, you will add value throughout your business, solve problems, and guide your organization through operational, tactical, and strategic problems.
How INFO adds value through design
At INFO, we are all about building the right product and building the product right and we believe in the power of collaboration. Our designers regularly team up with stakeholders and our clients’ clients, aka the end users. They validate their assumptions to make sure that the solutions we come up with actually solve the problems or issues that they are experiencing and that the platform behaves in a way that feels natural to them. We don’t stop there, however. We also steer clear of the designers-design-and-developers-build trope. Our designers and developers work closely together throughout each project, from start to finish.
Below, we have defined nine ways in which INFO adds value through design. Please keep in mind that this is a “live” document – as design in tech evolves, we evolve with it, coming up with new ways to add value to your business each year.
- Setting priorities through design
Often, the ideas for digital solutions are myriad, but resources are limited. Setting priorities is important to ensure that the business focuses on the right product or service. Design-oriented activities, like defining a product or value proposition, mapping value and effort, conducting a scoping session, defining design principles, etc., help to define a point on the horizon and to make decisions.
2. Alignment through design
Introducing a new digital product or service triggers cascading changes in many areas and processes within the organization. The critical factor that determines the success of those products or services is alignment. When designing for alignment, we manage stakeholder engagement and use an open and collaborative design process that creates a shared vision. Design staples, such as prototypes, storytelling, visualization, and creating a clear definition of the associated Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) also contribute to aligning all stakeholders involved.
3. Create and build proposition through design
Design is the process of creating value for all actors affected by a product, service, or combination thereof. What do your customers really need? Do they find value in what you have to offer? Creating and building a value proposition and communicating it clearly is one of the toughest challenges for any organization. It will guide all subsequent actions and decisions for the organization, both internally and externally. Design can help build a proposition by using tools like the value proposition canvas and ecosystem mapping.
4. Scalability through design
Organizations can experience difficulties when it comes to scaling their digital product or service. Increasing product or service use triggers challenges in performance and adaptation to new customer or content segments and might affect internal processes (e.g., more service desk questions). Scoping new features becomes more complex on a larger scale. A sound product vision will give direction to the development roadmap. Long-term design solutions and a clear design system contribute to scalable and consistent designs. Internal processes can be mapped in the service blueprints that designers often use in order to find weak spots and strengthen them.
5. Building trust through design
A reliable and trustworthy digital product or service has become a prerequisite for customers to engage with and stay loyal to a brand. Trust is extra important when you’re offering a high-value product or when sensitive information is involved. A good understanding of what matters most to the customer and being transparent as a provider are key. Insights from interviews or mapping the journey lay the foundation for designing a trustworthy digital product/service, including trust-enforcing moments in the customer journey. In short, we create trust by actively designing for transparency.
6. Solidifying brand identity through design
Brand identity speaks about a brand, the company’s values, what the product or service stands for, and how the company resonates with its target audience. It’s the brand’s personality, and it helps to establish a relationship with the customer. Design principles, such as ‘We build trust by being transparent’, and a design system, help to translate this personality to a (digital) product and keep track of consistency throughout the implementation. To ensure the brand’s personality is reflected in every element of your digital product or service, it is important to consistently implement design at every turn. When done right, this will make your customers feel a profound connection with your digital product or service.
7. Improving user experience and efficiency through design
Existing workflows can be greatly streamlined by paying close attention to the way people use them. This is especially valuable when dealing with products that people use on a daily basis. Designers consider the entire customer or employee journey to find ways of improving the user experience. By observing workflows and understanding people’s goals while working with a product, we often conclude their work can be done in a more efficient way.
8. Increase conversion and reduce costs through design
Organizations want to achieve their business goals, whether that is attracting more customers, increasing revenue, reducing costs, or something else. Design plays an important role; it is crucial to lowering barriers and increasing conversion. Good design can also lead to cost reductions and optimize employee workflows, making them work quicker and smarter. Making sure customers can use your product well will reduce customer service costs.
9. Translating data through design (for alignment, finding opportunities, efficiency)
Data is becoming an increasingly important asset for any organization. It can present facts, remove assumptions, reveal opportunities, and be used as a powerful tool for creating alignment or providing direction. In order to be helpful for users, data needs to be translated into actionable insights. These insights can only be created when you understand the user’s workflow and needs through design research. When data is used as a tool to analyze product usage, design translates the findings into solutions that improve the user flow.
Companies that have ‘matured’ their design capabilities are able to add value to their products more quickly. They are more agile, better equipped to cater to their users’ needs, and have a far better understanding of what those needs actually are. In short, mature design creates very tangible business value. We will cover different aspects of this value, so stay tuned! If you want to learn about design on a more personal level, get in touch!