Using Design To Get Results – Getting Started

This is the first in a series of blog posts looking at effective design.

“Good design is good business.”- THOMAS WATSON, JR

As we prepare to launch a brand new product called dotSurvey, it seemed like a good time to explain how we approach product design here at dotdigital Group.

When I sat down to write this, I soon realised just how much work we’ve put in to the design of dotSurvey and how much of a journey we’ve come on to bring it to market. So I’ve broken my thoughts down into short posts, each focusing on specific design techniques.

The effect of design

Whether feature rich, feature poor, aesthetic or functional, design stimulates emotion. That email campaign you’ve just sent should persuade the receiver to take positive action through visual communication. The menu on your website should allow users to find what they are looking for.

On the other hand there might be a dark pattern in your signup process that is annoying users, putting them off or, worst still, provoking them to complain on social networks.

The more positive interactions the user experiences, the stronger the bond between brand and consumer becomes. Design can even create brand advocates that will proactively go out of their way to enthuse about your product.

So we all strive for the ‘best’ design, but how do we achieve it?

Starting on the right foot

I’ll try to go through the steps of a design process in a chronological order but before we embark, it’s important to ask a very simple question. It also happens to be the same question I ask at the start of every single design project:

“What’s the point?”

Call it what you like – objectives, plans, targets, goals, KPIs – no matter how simple it seems, defining what you want to achieve is key to the success of your design.

Too often I hear about people starting on the wrong foot, sometimes getting half way through a design project before realising the importance of this simple but vital exercise. By that point, time, money and countless discussions have been wasted.

Here are some tips to help with this:

  • Define goals before you do anything. If Photoshop is open before you’ve worked out your goals, you’re jumping the gun. Working without a clear objective is like trying to pin the tail on the donkey.
  • Understand who is involved in achieving design goals. It’s often your stakeholders who will define goals based on business rationale but equally importantly are the consumers / users that will be approving your design. Be aware of them at all times.
  • Set your goals in stone and use them to underpin design decisions. Embed them in your own memory and also make the team aware so that everyone is on the same page. Pinning them up on the wall creates a permanent reference off-screen that you can refer to at any stage.
  • Don’t create too many goals. They will become unachievable. Five or fewer is usually plenty. Sometimes you need to prioritise.

In the dotSurvey project, although we have holistic goals we also break our goals down into manageable two week sprints. More on this later in the series.

Our goals for this series

So it would be wrong for me to talk about goals without sharing our own goals for this series of blog posts.

  • To provide you, our loyal (and attentive) readers with tips and inspiration for your own design and marketing projects. We’ll be covering everything from ideation, strategy and prototyping to emotional design and team work.
  • To show you how we approach design at dotDigital Group, using dotSurvey as a timely example.
  • To provide a channel for readers to ask questions about our design process and any quandaries they have with their own.

So at the end of this series, you’ll be able to tell us whether we’ve reached our goals!

What do you think? Do you like the sound of this series? Maybe you have some questions about the way you’ve seen us design already? Let us know below and we’ll try to answer them in this series.

So you can see all the Design blog series in the same place, we’ve made a handy Effective Design page! Be sure to pop by regularly as we’ll be updating it with other blogs in this series, here is the link.

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