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The business value of design

The business value of design

At Nodes, we have always believed in great design based on technological possibilities. Speaking with our clients and peers, we know that no matter how organisations perceive and work with design, some of the questions that have been discussed widely, are probably revolved around the business value of design. What is the business value of design? How big of an impact does design have on businesses? How much, and not the least, how should we be focusing on design? All these questions are very valuable and naturally something that is worth exploring. Read on here for a journey into those questions, and what we believe are things we should all be aware of in the future of design.

What is design and UX?

First, let’s determine what we mean by the term “design”. There are three core elements that encompasses what we understand as design:

  • The craft – the art of designing something
  • The end product – a product, a service or a digital experience.
  • Design thinking – the method by which we tackle any kind of problems or challenges.
Model 01 - The business value of design

Those principles are inherent in User Experience (UX) design. As with all kinds of design it is about having a deep understanding of the users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and their limitations. The sentence “great design takes time” has gained a foothold in our offices. Great design is for us characterised as:

How has design evolved?
Design has always been important and can have a substantial impact on our everyday life. What we see now is that it is getting increasingly difficult to make great design that stands out from the competitors, as an increasingly global market makes it easy for everyone to compare products and brands globally. This leads to rising expectations from consumers and users. Moreover, in the past few years design has evolved into a cross-functional discipline, where physical, service and digital experiences merge together. Design is now about the whole user journey across all channels and touchpoints – designers and businesses have to think about this to be able to make a customer or user engage with the brand

Good design is good business

The above might all be very well, but the more design evolves into being a cross-functional subject, the more interesting it becomes to investigate what impact design has on companies’ revenues to determine how much we should prioritise great design. How else would we justify spending a good amount of resources on it, if not through data, numbers and results?

A report published in October 2018 by McKinsey , shows the impact specific design actions have on the revenue and growth in companies considered the top performers in design. The results speak their own language, so here are what we believe are the most important take-aways from the study.

  • The revenue growth of top performers in design are almost double compared to industry peers, and the shareholder value is more than 70% above that of industry-peers.
  • The financial outcome compared to industry-peers can be seen across the three industries studied: consumer packaged goods, medical technology and retail banking.
  • There is no correlation between the amount spent on design and the financial gain of the company.

This shows us that design across many types of industries, physical products, services and digital experiences have a positive impact on how companies and organisations perform. You could argue that the more mature a business is in design, the more revenue is gained. The maturity of design is the level to which design is attuned to the values, operation and level of problems of the business world. Therefore, it is crucial to think design into every aspect of the organisation to raise the design maturity of it.

How to boost revenue growth through design

Now that we have determined the importance of integrating design into organisations, we have a few suggestions as to how we can all start reaping the benefits of great design.

User-centric design should be everyone’s responsibility
Due to the cross-functional nature of design nowadays, design and design-thinking should not be limited to one department or be siloed. It is crucial that everyone takes responsibility and understands the importance of good design, to ensure that all aspects of the user-journey are taken into account. This can be done more easily if designers are included in all the projects of the company. Creating great products should be the entire company’s responsibility, and design should be at the core of it.

Model 03 1 - The business value of design

Design performance is as important as revenue and costs
Design should not merely be an add-on to businesses. Treat design performance as you would treat revenue and costs and measure the performance of it regularly, and it would naturally make design top of mind in the organisation.

Data should be the basis of design
Design is a continuous iteration, so we need to constantly listen, test and iterate towards and with end-users. In regards to user experience, we believe that having a user-centric and user research-focused approach throughout the entire product development process is the future. Many companies are slowly starting to realise that this approach can significantly de-risk their projects, and in the end, it might be the difference between a successful product and a failure. That being said, there is still the qualitative part of design you cannot get from numbers. It requires skilled designers to be able to factor in the intangible humanistic and creative spark to make the end-product stand out. This leads us to the next point.

Agile design teams
When the process should be more iterative, research-focused and adaptable, it only makes sense if design teams are agile. Design teams should encompass people who are talented in different fields and can work on a project from start to finish. Also, when design is no longer either physical, service or digital experiences, it is important that team members can navigate in all three areas, think integrated and involve other functions. This requires that designers demystify the craft of designing, and are more open about the creative process. In turn, this will again make sure that the entire organisation understands and feel a responsibility towards great design.

Nodes’ Agile Project Management
Here at Nodes, we work with an agile design process, as depicted below, that factors in the above points and ensures an iterative, adaptive and evolving design product.

If you want a more comprehensive read on our processes and the agile approach in project management, make sure you check out this post.

What are the next steps?

The paragraphs above are all interconnected, and doing one thing would naturally mean implementing another. In all aspects, it requires that the entire Senior Management group is involved in the process of integrating and heightening the design maturity of the enterprise.
However, we would not recommend doing everything at once and expect great financial outcomes from day one. Making incremental changes over a longer period would be a more sustainable way forward.

IMG 0825 - The business value of design

Are you thinking about implementing some of the suggestions mentioned? Here at Nodes, we take great pride in our design-approach and are experts in integrating design into all processes. Our user-centric design thinking enables us to create valuable and engaging user experiences. Combined with our deep technical knowledge our projects turn out successfully and our products are both visually appealing and technically feasible. Take a look at how we can support your organisation in creating business value through design here.

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