Back in July, Wave attended the European premiere of Design Disruptors, a full length documentary about product design created by InVision. Since then I’ve found myself thinking about the role of design and design teams within a modern company.
The film explores how big brands such as Facebook, Airbnb, Etsy, Uber and Google lead by example, having design teams at the forefront of their products; defining, working and re working it so it matches the business goals and objectives and also allows business and design minds to sit at the same table. But design isn’t exclusive to these new startup/young/edgy types of businesses. How can smaller, more corporate or traditional companies integrate design thinking into their core?
Design is no longer just a resource
Long gone are the days where design is the last link in the chain. Previously, every aspect of the product would have been decided before it finally reached the designers hands. The act of designing was a mere act of executing business people’s ideas.
Designers are expert problem solvers. And this is what design is all about. Above all of the graphics, fonts and colours, all the perfectly aligned, beautifully crafted website or marketing flyer, design will aim to effectively communicate a product or company values and objectives. Design is not the solution but the means to that solution. It is embedded in every aspect of your daily life, from the touch interface in your shiny new car, to the phone in your hands and the website where you do your weekly shopping.
Designers are capable of talking and understanding business
For a long time there was this image of the hipster, eccentric designer, always carrying his pens and notebooks around (not that we don’t carry them now). Artistic fellows with artistic ideas for everything, a splash of colour here, a funky font there, all passion, all ideas, all concept, fancy names for everything, branding, typography, leading, kerning, always drawing, always doodling on their notebooks.
But if the audience at the Design Disruptors in London proves anything, it is that designers are no different from any other person. And, like any other person, perfectly capable of relating and understanding your business, capable of sitting in a meeting and effectively explaining how design can help you achieve better results. No fancy terms needed.
So how does design fit into your business plan
Think about bringing designers in at the beginning of the process, the project kick off meetings and so on. You can say it’s too early to think about how things will look; it is and it’s not. It is the right time though to start thinking about how something will work. Approach your project in a problem/solution manner. Do you want to revamp your company website? Explain to a designer what your company is about, what your business objectives are, and work together to figure out the best solution to achieve those objectives. Discuss what pages the website should have, what should be on those pages, how to get clients to click the buy button.
The truth is, you don’t need to be an expert in graphics software or a photoshop guru, to be able to think and do design; every good process starts with good old fashioned pen and paper anyway. The thing is that designers are people’s experts, we know how people think, how eyes work, how people read and how people don’t read, how to play with emotions and most of all how to make someone interested in your company and product.