Stop devaluing design.
I am NOT a designer. Choosing paint colors stresses me out. I can do a few shades of designer work, like listening to a client, putting together ideas, seeing how things fit together. I’m probably a lot like you in that I can recognize good design and I can describe what I want things to look like, but I can’t actually do it myself. I can only go so far. Thus, I’m NOT a designer. But I’m haunted with the notion that because I can do SOME of the steps in the design process that I’m subconsciously devaluing the ENTIRE design process. Are these shades of capability clouding our reason? If they cloud my reason even a little bit, I imagine they are totally blinding many others to the true value of great design.
First, I have the pleasure of working with a great designer. She adds enormous value to our company and allows us to articulate our ideas and our clients ideas with speed and accuracy. So why does this devaluing happen? To me, this infographic, by a very talented designer, perfectly illustrates what I mean about how your life skills can inform your association with your work skills. They are similar. But that does NOT make you a designer.
My theory is that many others are doing something similar as they interact with designers or solicit design for their business. They assume that because they can do SOME of these steps in the process, they are somehow exempt from paying for the entire process. I call shenanigans on this practice. Designers are trained in their craft. They practice and hone their skills. They study and continually learn. Designers do SO much more than make things pretty. They do more than decorate. They interpret data, make complex things simple, increase visibility of your business, attract better clients, allow you to charge more money, build credibility and loyalty, tell your story, help people find your website, give your brand the presence it needs, provide focus, and the list goes on … If people would stop assuming that’s what design is – making things pretty – and understand that successful business happens where strategy and design meet, the world would be a happier and more successful place.
It’s not just thinking you can do some of a designers job that threatens the value perception of design. It’s also designs placement in the hierarchy of your company or organization that determines it’s value. If you are a sales-driven company or an operations focussed organization you may not value design as integral to your process. Your employees may not be accustomed to recognizing the intrinsic value of design. Do you use websites that offer free layout templates? Or have you crowd sourced a logo for $5? Or commissioned a website for less than $500? DIY is fine, but good design isn’t cheap. And cheap design isn’t good. Businesses need to realize their uniqueness, and that you cannot, and should not, look like everyone else or like a template.
On the flip side, if you are in a design conscious company, you are trained to recognize the value of design at all stages and levels of your organization. It permeates from the top down and extends to all facets of your operations. But does this make good business sense? It does. According to this 10-year study of design conscious companies they out performed the S&P by 219%. That is a whopping number and screams value to me. Some of these design focussed campaigns are obvious, like Apple, Herman-Miller, and Nike. But others are more surprising like IBM, Ford, and Rubbermaid. By making major investments in design teams, UX/UI design, and making design a part of the culture in their organizations these companies are designing a very profitable future.