The Business Value of Design

Look at the last 5 years. The black line is the S&P 500. The colored lines are companies who use human-centered design and design thinking as a core product strategy. Great design process drives real results. The trick is aligning the business goals with the goals of the customer.

An unavoidable fact of the digital revolution is that product design is now intrinsically linked to the business model of the company building that product.

The fascination with creating the next unicorn has entrepreneurs and investors clamoring to create something that scales like a Space X rocket just after ignition. Everyone is chasing the hockey stick. Legacy enterprises are now chasing ‘innovation’ in an attempt to defend their positions and stay competitive with VC-fueled, ping-pong playing startups. This puts designers in an important position with great responsibility.

Designers help ensure a healthy alignment of user goals and business goals.

This is new ground for many designers. It’s hard to know when to push back on something business people ask for. It’s hard for business people to understand why a designer is pushing for or against something. Meeting room gymnastics aside, it would help everyone to have alignment, clarity, and confidence on what to build and why you’re building it.

Will changing the algorithm increase revenue? At what cost to the user’s experience? Is this a short-term boost to meet quarterly numbers? Is it better to play the long-game and stay true to corporate values? 

These are all valid questions to ask and they’re sometimes difficult to answer. Regardless, they need to be asked in the scope of making good product decisions. Nothing is more valuable to a business than loyal paying customers. And unless you’re a social media platform thriving on the eyeballs of users to generate ad revenue, those customers are real people with real needs. It’s your company’s job to understand and address those needs. Do it right and you’ll remain profitable for decades, and great product design is how you do it.

How is your organization aligning business goals with user goals? Are you doing the right things? Are you doing things right?

If you’re not 100% sure, we should talk.