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Why Design Matters in Business

Design can be a tough sell. Sometimes it seems that the higher up the company food chain you go, the less time there is for how products and services look and feel and the more focus there is on how the numbers on spreadsheets stack up. It’s probably just as well; making a profit is the number one duty of a business after all.

However, there is plenty of evidence to link design strength with profit and there is even a metric, RODI (Return on Design Investment), for those design-alert companies who like to cost their design spend separately.

But if you’re struggling to convince decision-makers of this value, or to justify your own design investments, this article should help.

Design: More than a Pretty Picture

“Design is a big factor in brand consistency. If everything about your business is about creating simple, workable solutions, then what do you think happens when your website is chaotic to look at and a nightmare to navigate?”

The first hurdle to get over is that stubborn idea that design is just about how something looks. There are plenty of products and services out there that look great but are absolute pants when you come to use them.

This is as true when it comes to your website – which you can think of as an interactive shopfront to your business – as it is with your products and services themselves.

Design is also a big factor in brand consistency. If everything about your business is about creating simple, workable solutions then what do you think happens when your website is chaotic to look at and a nightmare to navigate?

Your customers lose trust in your brand values and become reluctant to buy. It’s like turning up to a builder’s house and seeing peeling paintwork and damp patches everywhere.

So if you’re a family business with decades of experience then make sure your website reflects that prestigious history in the wording and artwork. If simplicity and convenience is your USP, you need a clean design and simple menus.

And if you’re a creative techie bunch, you need to show off your fancy bits of code and design by, I don’t know, having a spinning Rubik’s cube on your front page.

Fortunately, you don’t have to take our word for the importance of design in business success. Decades of research backs up the connection between design and business performance.

Design, Trust and the Bottom Line

The link between design and business outcomes is not a new discovery. Way back in the mists of time (well as far back as 2007 anyway), the Design Council revealed the results of two separate studies involving a total of over 1500 UK businesses.

The Council’s ‘National Survey of Firms’ and ‘Value Added Research’ Studies investigated just how much design impacted business development. Amongst other findings, they discovered:

Growing businesses were SIX TIMES more likely to place a high value on design than static ones
Shares in design-led companies outperformed the FTSE 100 average by OVER 200%
On average, £100 of design investment increased turnover by £225

Social Design and Peer Influence

With the growth of social media and the movement away from top-down marketing, digital strategies focusing on designs which help companies to connect customers to one another are important.

Blogs, social media links, mobile-friendly website design, a conversational tone and a prominent space for positive reviews all make peer-to-peer connection easier. And as the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer discovered, it is peer opinion that creates trust in a brand and not the traditional corporate channels.

In fact, 75% of respondents to the Edelman survey admitted that peers were influential in the so-called ‘moment of truth,’ where the customer decides whether they will or will not buy.
And from digital advertising to blog content to website look and feel, it’s design that communicates those messages of peer trust and brand integrity.

So the next time the decision-maker moans at you for maxing the budget on a sexy new font, remind them:

Business is about making money but money is spent by people. And design speaks to people.

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