Designers and Business

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Creativity infused with efficiency results in pure magic – a kind of sorcery that sweeps the clients off their feet and places unparalleled value to organizations! The perfect blend of these two ingredients in digital designing firms sets them apart graduating from being one of the “Best” to “Premium”. However, this distinction is reserved for a handful of companies that employ professionals who are not just creative but are capable of business design thinking. It takes a deep groundwork to breed strong company culture with high levels of perceived integrity! According to research by IBM and others, between 60 and 90 percent of organizational change initiatives fall flat. It's no wonder. Making the changes that lead to excellence is not an overnight pursuit--it's a long process that often means rewiring a company's fundamental DNA.  And for individual designers who want success to follow, most definitely, need to balance their exceptional creative skills with an extreme level of professionalism. The importance of business in design cannot be emphasized enough. But the opposite is also true! One needs to understand the terms and importance of terms like business, time, profit and communication!

What is Business design?

An understanding of business for designers is absolutely vital in the current market landscape. But what is Business design?

Business Design can be described as an inherent quality, approach or edge that the business has over its competitors. In business school, they term this as a ‘differentiating factor’, one that provides the brand with a long-term competitive advantage or margin of safety. Given that the business does not operate in a static environment, it is imperative for the business design to merge this ‘edge’ in its DNA and adapt to the needs of the target group.

The digital industry emphasizes the need for designers to have variable skill sets which include more than creative hands-on design. An understanding of the industry, company, product, competitors, and customers is central to the creation of a good design that solves real-life business problems.

Traditional business models survived long periods without disruption. However, with the onset of the Internet and newer technologies, the viability of business models is important to test and implement faster than those of traditional R&D cycles.

The principles of business design outline a process-driven approach that designers should observe while designing the user experience. The design process must include a preliminary set of assumptions, which need to be tested with sample users through a minimum viable product. The business design process must also build a robust feedback loop such that customer feedback can be readily incorporated in the final product.

Approaches to Business Design

There are two broad ways of approaching business design, Lean business approach and Innovation circle approach. 

Lean Business Approach

  1. Designers must strive to understand the business, the overall market landscape, the competitors and the customers. Business design has to work on all these levels.
  2. The user experience can then be iterated into a business model prototype that can be tested with different users across different devices
  3. The feedback on the same, whether good or bad can be worked into the final product.

Innovation Circle Approach

One of the prevailing methodologies of business design thinking outlines the following facets of business design.

  1. Desirability: The business design must intrinsically identify the connection that the end-user has with the product or service and their motivations for using them.
  2. Feasibility: It outlines the basic function that the product or service fulfills for its end-user.
  3. Viability: Business Design must also factor in varies long-term costs and determinants that make the product or service for the company to produce/offer for a prolonged period of time.

Benefits

Increase business ROI

When business design is strongly aligned with the company’s objectives, it leads to a higher conversion of customers. Design will attract the desired target market in herds. Bigger the size of the funnel, higher the conversion of customers.

Retention of customers

Bad design can put off even the most loyal customers because they will not find what they are looking for. The purpose of business design is not to bring about just a one-time purchase, but to build a steady inflow of repeat customers.

Emergence of a ‘sticky’ brand

Reputation & Goodwill is a long-term asset for any company. A brand that possesses a promising growth trajectory will reveal a user base who act as passionate brand advocates. These customers will shoulder the responsibility of bringing in newer customers, thereby turning your product into a sticky brand.

Conclusion

The importance of business design thinking is critical in the current business environment. Most folks in senior management believe that designers should be aware of the commercial aspects so that they know what their work is worth. Aesthetic appeal aside; design should fetch results by solving problems and increasing the employer’s ROI. At its core, business design thinking enables the creating of exceptional user-centric products. Designers should seek to include themselves in other complementing functions of the business to contribute more holistically to the creative process. This will pave the way for truly iconic products and services that users love and advocate with pride!

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