Verse One

Design as Business

Design isn’t just about making things pretty. It’s about growing the bottom line by building relationships and providing value to the customer.

We believe design should get business done. It’s easy for those of us focused on design to get excited about style and taste, but it’s dangerous to confuse those with the actual service that design ought to offer. If it’s not serving a customer, growing the bottom line, and providing value for investment—then it’s not working. We’re fond of the idea that design is a hypothesis with provable or disprovable results. Those results should prove value to the customer—value to the business.

Can you feel the business magic? There are sparks when a customer becomes willing to exchange time or money for you to solve a need. Design is the path of that transaction. When done well, design can turn that value-exchange from transaction into relationship. Relationship is human, it’s a living handshake and it can be the foundation for a wildly successful company.

Design must listen to business before it creates. What’s working, what’s not? What’s keeping some customers crazy loyal while others churn and burn? Are the leadership team, and your on-the-ground employees congruent in an understanding of the customer? Does the customer agree with that understanding? These questions don’t lead to answers, they lead to business designed.

Design is a continuum. It knows when to be scrappy and when to be refined. It knows when to be sketch and when to prototype. It knows when to sell and when to produce. There’s a time to stand on the shoulders of market-proven patterns and a time to invent a better wheel. Design should know how to solve problems within a huge range of budget, scope, and timeline. Design is nimble, achieving a quality experience across a wide degree of opportunities.