Business & Design

by Luke Wroblewski May 29, 2005

As the number of designers interested in owning a seat at the corporate decision-making “table” grows, the number of business strategies advocating design solutions expands as well.

Designers keep asking: “how can we convince business owners that investments in design processes are money well spent?” Simultaneously, a number of business publications (most notably Fast Company) are telling corporate decision makers that “design matters.” It’s useful for both sides to view the discussion from each other’s perspective.

Business on Design

Fast Company, June 2005

June's Fast Company promises to do something that no other business magazine has ever done: "devote virtually an entire issue to the subject of design. Why? Because we believe that great design has become as important to competitive advantage as smart technology."

The Business of Design, Fast Company April 2005

In an economy where style is king, we all need to start thinking and acting more like design.

Samsung Design, Business Week November 2004

The Korean giant makes some of the coolest gadgets on earth. Now it's reinventing itself to get even cooler.

The Power Of Design, Business Week May 2004

IDEO redefined good design by creating experiences, not just products. Now it's changing the way companies innovate.

Fast Talk: Better By Design, Fast Company, June 2004

It can be a catalyst, a transformative force. Five corporate leaders who "get" design talk about how it has influenced their companies' strategies.

Masters of Design, Fast Company June 2004

No matter what you do for a living, design matters. Meet and learn from 20 visionary men and women who are using design to create not just new products, but new ways of working, leading, and seeing.

Design on Business

The following are focused on the return on investment (ROI) that design provides.

Identifying the Business Value of What We Do User Interface Engineering April 2005

Knowing how to identify and communicate the business value of a project will substantially help it get approved and supported by the organization.

Return on Investment for Usable User- Interface Design (PDF) Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc February 2002

Making computer-based products (and services) more usable is smart business. Usability increases customer satisfaction and productivity…

Positioning design as an “added value” with an independent ROI may sometimes carry the unintended message that designing a product is “optional”. This perception is very visible when design is referred to as “making things pretty”. “Do we want to make an investment in design? Let’s do the ROI…” In reality, design represents an integral part of any product decision-making process. In addition to technology and business considerations, design considerations are vital to making appropriate choices for product features, product marketing, and more. It is the designer’s role to represent the design opportunities and constraints that inform product decisions.

An additional potential pitfall of positioning design as an “added value” is that it does not adequately prepare product stakeholders for situations where design best fits the product equation as a constraint. Sometimes, it is the designer’s job to apply limitations (for example to retain consistency or simplicity) to a product in order to achieve the best solution. This practice enforces the idea that good design solves problems not just through “addition”-but more importantly (and perhaps more often) through subtraction.

These resources, on the other hand, look at how design fits into the larger organization structure and how it can become part of the corporate problem solving process.

Institute of Design Strategy Conference, May 2005

An international executive forum addressing how businesses can use design to explore emerging opportunities, solve complex problems, and achieve lasting strategic advantage.

ROI Is Not a Silver Bullet: Five Actionable Steps for Valuing User Experience Design Adaptive Path June 2004

Although ROI methodology can be a useful tool for prioritizing possible web development projects, by itself ROI is not the answer to building a stronger user experience design competency.

Understanding Organizational Stakeholders for Design Success, Boxes & Arrows May 2004

A design must meet the business needs of the company, and must be supported by disparate members of the management team, in order to be actually implemented.