— BY REMON — IN Business

Understanding the Business Side of Design

In today’s issue, I want to share my journey of understanding design’s business side and how it has helped me in my career. I’ll cover topics such as the importance of understanding your client’s needs, the importance of setting clear expectations.

Communicating the Value of Your Work

As a designer, it’s essential to communicate your work’s value to your clients. This means understanding how your design will help them achieve their goals and articulate that in a way that makes sense to them.

When I started, I often got frustrated when clients didn’t understand the value of my work. I would think, “Why can’t they see how amazing this design is?” But, as I progressed in my career, I realized that it’s not the client’s job to understand the value of my work. It’s mine. Every design choice you make, from the colour scheme to the layout, profoundly impacts the audience’s behaviour. It can influence whether they click that “Buy Now” button, share your content, or simply move on.

Let’s consider the example of a website’s landing page. A beautifully designed landing page can enthral visitors, but its value lies in converting those visitors into paying customers. The arrangement of elements, the clarity of the message, and the persuasive power of your visuals all play pivotal roles in determining its success.
As designers, we are not just creators of art; we are enablers of business objectives. We have the power to enhance user experiences, elevate brands, and, ultimately, drive revenue. It’s a responsibility that we should embrace with enthusiasm.

Understanding Your Client’s Needs

To gain a better understanding of your customer’s needs, I ask a series of questions at the beginning of every project.

1. What is the primary purpose of this website?
This question sets the foundation for the project by clarifying the overarching goal.

2. Who is the target audience for this website?
Understanding the audience helps tailor the design and content to their needs.

3. What are the core messages or key content that must be conveyed?
Identifying key content ensures that the website effectively communicates the intended message.

4. Do you have existing branding guidelines or a style guide?
Existing guidelines can inform design decisions for consistency.

5.What are the main competitors’ websites, and what do you like/dislike about them?
Analyzing competitors’ websites can provide insights into industry standards and areas for differentiation.

6. Could you kindly provide me with three website links that you find interesting?
This is helpful in identifying the website styles preferred by your clients.

7. What functionalities or features are essential for the website?
Defining necessary features guides the development phase.

8. What is the budget and timeline for this project?
Knowing the budget and timeline constraints is vital for planning and resource allocation.

Defining Business Objectives Goals

I once had a meeting that would serve as a wake-up call, a pivotal moment that would illuminate the stark reality of the design industry. The seasoned entrepreneur client leaned forward, scrutinizing my design with a critical eye. What he said next hit me like many bricks and would change my perspective on design forever.

“Your design is impressive,” he began, “but how does it translate into profit for my business?”

At that moment, I realized that my creativity alone wouldn’t suffice. I needed to understand the business side of design—the language of ROI, branding strategies, and market analysis—if I wanted to thrive in this industry. It was a transformative realization that set me on a quest to master the artistry of design and the intricacies of business.

To get a better picture of the business objectives, let’s consider an e-commerce project as an example.

  • Increase Online Sales: The primary objective is to increase online sales for our e-commerce business.
  • Enhance Brand Awareness: Improve brand visibility and recognition among our target audience.
  • Improve User Experience: Enhance the user experience to make online shopping effortless and enjoyable.

Setting SMART Goals

Setting goals can be a breeze if you’re comfortable with it. Ever heard of SMART goals? They’re like your trusty goal-setting sidekick. But don’t worry, if you’re new to this, we’ll walk you through it step by step.”

Here’s what SMART stands for:

Specific: A specific goal is clear, well-defined, and focused. It answers the questions of “What,” “Why,” and “How.” It leaves no room for ambiguity or confusion. Specific goals provide a clear target and direction.

Measurable: A measurable goal can be quantified or measured in some way. It includes criteria that allow you to track progress and determine when the goal has been achieved. Measurable goals provide a way to evaluate success objectively.

Achievable: An achievable goal is realistic and attainable within available resources and constraints. It takes into account factors like time, budget, and functional skills. An achievable goal is challenging but not so ambitious that it needs to be attainable.

Relevant: A relevant goal aligns with your broader objectives and is meaningful in the context of your work or organization. It ensures the goal is worthwhile and contributes to your overall mission or strategy.

Time-bound: A goal has a specific deadline or timeframe by which it should be accomplished. This adds a sense of urgency and helps prevent procrastination. Time-bound goals provide a sense of focus and commitment.

Using SMART criteria when setting goals helps ensure they are well-defined, achievable, and aligned with your objectives. It provides a structured approach to goal-setting that enhances clarity, accountability, and the likelihood of success.

So, for an e-commerce project, it could be:

  • Specific: Increase monthly online sales revenue by 15% compared to the previous year.
  • Measurable: Track website traffic using Google Analytics and monitor online sales through our e-commerce platform.
  • Achievable: Based on our historical sales data and industry benchmarks, a 10% increase in revenue is a challenging but achievable goal.
  • Relevant: Enhancing brand awareness and providing valuable content directly contribute to our objective of increasing online sales.
  • Time-bound: Achieve a 20% increase in online sales within the next 12 months.

By answering the initial questions and defining clear business objectives and SMART goals, you provide a roadmap for your website project that ensures alignment with your clients vision and measurable success. This foundation will guide your website’s design, development, and ongoing optimization.

We all want to create beautiful and functional designs that make an impact. But, to do that, we need to understand how our designs fit into the bigger picture of our clients’ business goals. By understanding the business side of design, we can create designs that look great and drive results for our clients.

So, take the time to learn about the business side of design. Understand your client’s needs, set clear expectations, and communicate the value of your work. It may seem daunting initially, but it’s worth it. Not only will it make your projects more successful, but it will also make you a more valuable asset to your clients.

Author picture

Hi! I'm Remon Leijtens

I hope you got value out of my writing. If I can help in some small way on your design journey I’d love to hear it – comment below, email me or tweet at me.

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