Is Investing in Design Really Worth it?

Design is just a color palette and a bunch of shapes — right?

Not exactly.

Previously, my design process consisted of jumping on a tool like Paletton, choosing a few colors, and adding it to a theme.

This process works. No one’s ever complained about how any website I create looks. Well, except for one guy. He’s weird. I’ve never been complimented either.

As I dive deeper into business, conversions, and marketing as a whole. I’ve realized design is paramount to achieving your goals.

Everything man has ever made is designed.

Think about that. Read that subheading again. No matter where you’re from or what your background, you’re using something that’s been designed by your fellow man.

The phone or computer you’re using to read this has been designed.

- The box your eggs come in was designed

- The container for medicine was designed

- Your bed was designed

- The spoon you eat with was designed

- Your desk was designed

- Your shirt was designed

Everything around you went through a massive amount of design before it was released to the world.

Sometimes, it resonates. Sometimes it falls flat.

The implication is clear. The way you design your products, packaging, and messages have a powerful impact on your bottom line.

Today, we’re designing for humans

A hundred years ago, everything was massed produced. There wasn’t much choice. It didn’t matter if you liked it or not. That’s all there was. As long as it worked, it didn’t need great design.

Even today, some people and companies don’t seem to get it.

Look around and you’ll realize we have a lot of choice — too much.

You can choose between dozens of phones, computers, and even boxer briefs. Design is no longer an afterthought.

It’s the first thing you should consider.

Ergonomics:

An applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely — called also biotechnology, human engineering, human factors

That’s just a fancy way of saying human centered design. It’s the process of having a human perspective on all steps of the problem solving and solution creating process. Everything from your packaging, the experience, and the product itself should take human centered design into account.

Create what your users/customers/clients want in a way they want to use it. In a business sense, the best designs are the ones that are so good you don’t notice.

They just work.

The public is more familiar with bad design than good design.
- Paul Rand

Wayne Chang talks about how they applied human centered design principles to Crashlytics. They were acquired by Twitter in less than a year. Their customers loved them.

No matter what you’re doing. Design it for the humans that’ll be using it.

That applies to you whether you’re building a fashion brand, a SaaS App, or a gym.

What design is today

It’s no longer just about colors. It’s about designing a consistent, compelling, and authentic experience.

Experience is the operative word.

For example, in a hotel, design would consist of the décor, the music, the way the receptionist greeted you, the ambience, the colors, and the overall vibe.

Together, they create an experience. If you change one element then everything is shifted. The experience changes.

Yes, it involves research.

To design effectively, you have to understand who the end user is, what they want, and how you can make that possible.

Mobility Designed created a crutch that moves pressure and better balances your weight. It’s easier on the user and looks good to boot. Human centered design at its finest.

Moving into the digital sphere

Wacom increased their traffic by 300% after changing their design. That, in addition with a bit of a rebrand translated into more revenue.

There’s a lot of wisdom out there about increasing conversions, how to design, and everything in between.

I’m not about to add to the discussion. There are people with years of UX and UI design experience. Go follow their blogs.

Instead, I want to touch on the most important principles. Principles we’re incorporating at KyLeads to create an experience — and product — people love by focusing on humans.

1. Decisions backed by data

We’re moving away from decisions made with our gut. The gut is good when it comes to relationships. This isn’t a relationship. It’s a business.

We’re focusing on the cold hard facts. Even the most experienced human beings make mistakes due to cognitive biases. Maybe you’ve got a cultural stigma around doing things a certain way. Maybe you’ve had a bad experience with A/B testing. Whatever.

With data, we can — to an extent — move beyond our biases and invisible scripts. In essence, we open up a vista of opportunity.

The challenge is looking at the data objectively. I don’t need to tell you that you can make the data say whatever you want. We’re trying to instill it at every level of our organization. Everyone from the newest hire to me — the founder — needs to be able to back up their decisions with data.

It’s a page out of Ray Dalios playbook. We’re not at the stage where we use AI. We’re getting there.

No data, no dice.

2. Prototyping

As I just said, we’re moved by biases. A side effect of that is looking for confirmation of what we already believe. To that effect, the data can be made to tell you whatever you want.

Instead of taking that route, we aim to build small prototypes and test them with small segments of our userbase/audience. From there, we can confirm or reject our hypothesis. And on and on until the end of the world.

It’s an iterative process that never stops.

3. Feedback

The holy grail of human centered design. Feedback. It lets us know what the pure data can’t. Maybe it should work better like this but it doesn’t.

Why? People just don’t like it.

It happens. In Mad Men, there was a scene (can’t find the link) where they explained something profound to a new recruit. A lot of this business comes down to whether or not people like you.

A lot of design is subjective. Human centered design can take the humans it’s built for into account and still fail. What do you do? Accept feedback and move on.

Final thoughts

The question this post seeks to answer: Is investing in design really worth it? The simple answer is yes.

The not so simple answer is which aspects of design do you optimize for the overall experience? Which ones should be dominant and which ones should be complimentary.

That’s an answer you have to work out yourself by following the principles of human centered design. It’s not a one step process.

Think of it like building a startup.

One iteration at a time.

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