Phil Williams
Head of UX and Optimisation
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  • User-Centred Design

17th Feb 2016

5 min

In most businesses, design is still seen as ‘the arty thing’, ’the colouring in’ or the least important part of the process. Low down in the pecking order or lumped in with stuff like marketing.

C-suite level professionals are constantly bombarded with so many aspects of business that they can become ‘MOBD’ (Microsoft Office Blind) with emails, spread sheets and boring powerpoint presentations. So when a designer walks in with something colourful, considered and tangible, they are sometimes overwhelmed. Not to dissimilar to their child bringing home a painting from school.

And that’s the way designers are viewed, the creative child who has toys on their desk and draws pretty pictures but who doesn’t really belong at the adult table…

 

designers can't sit at the adult table

 

This is why there needs to be a change. Not just changes in the way designers are viewed but the way designers see and portray themselves.

Designers should be accountable for the knowledge we all possess, the ideas we generate and the ideas we can bring to a business as a whole. After all, this is what we are good at, solving problems and lets face it, every business has problems on some level.

Design has always been about problem solving. What differentiates us is that we use a variety of tools to illustrate our ideas and concepts. Yes, we use Photoshop and draw pretty pictures, but this is necessary to transfer our ideas into a medium that can be easily accessible by everybody. We are not artists. We are not creatives. We are not here to solely entertain or provoke reactions. We are idea engineers who create the world we live in. We will find the solutions to problems, find the most efficient way to execute them and show you in the easiest way possible.

Think about where you are right now, as you are reading this. Everything you see and touch has been designed:

The clothes you’re wearing.
The seat you’re sitting in.
The phone in your pocket
and the website you are reading this on.

All designed by someone else. A Designer.

A Fashion Designer from Paris.
A Product Designer in Sweden.
A UX Designer in California and
a Web Designer in Manchester.

These are all people that are impacting your life right now as you read this. They have impacted their business in such a profound way that it has encroached into your daily life. They made you want to buy that t-shirt, sit in that chair, buy that phone and read this blog.

The design industry doesn’t help itself though. It tries to siphon itself off from the business world and all the negative connotations that comes with it, choosing to identify itself as a separate entity. No more obviously can this be seen than with fluffy, self-prophesising job titles like Experience Wizard, Dream Planner, Digital Warrior. The industry seems to be full of Ninjas, Pirates, Rockstars, Gurus and Monkeys!

 

wizard designer

 

Here, use click this link and find yourself your very own novelty job title that’s ‘outside the box’!

What professional business person would want to work with these people – would you want an ‘Engine Monkey’ fixing your car or a ‘Financial Pirate’ finding you a new mortgage?

Come on guys, we are better that this! We are architects. We are engineers. We are thinkers. We can bring so much more to a business than just ‘next level Photoshop skillz’!

Getting designers involved in at the very first stages of business decisions will ultimately benefit the entire company. Introducing designers earlier into the process means not only can they have a bigger impact on the overall strategy and outcome of a given process, but can change the suggested solution for the better and earlier.

Most of the time, businesses work like this:

‘Brand X’ wants to sell a product or service online.
‘Brand X’ hires ‘Web Agency Y’ to build them a website.
‘Agency Y’ builds an ecommerce platform using ‘complicated code and techy stuff’.
‘Brand X’ are super happy they’ve got a new revenue stream and they are an ecommerce business at last.

‘Brand X’ is happy they are making more money!
‘Agency Y’ is happy they got a new client and are making money!

Everyone’s happy right?

 

designers say your process is wrong

 

No. There is a person missing in this process. The user!

At no point did anybody think about the user. The consumer. The person who is actually buying the product/service.

This is where UX design is incredibly useful. Not only could UX designers identify a problem early on in the business decisions, but by nature they are empathetic to user concerns and demands in design.

This is where new businesses need to sit up and listen. There is no business without your customer/user. Even if you are selling the greatest product in the world, if your customer isn’t happy then they won’t be your customers for long.

This recent article from InVision says “By 2020, UX will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.”

This just shows that the most important thing in business is customer experience and the end user. By the time most businesses incorporate a designer into strategy, it is too far down the chain to get the benefit of their value.

I hope this post has gone some way into changing the perceptions of designers. If you won’t take my word for it, why don’t you try it for yourself and introduce your in-house designer into strategic meetings earlier. Remember, designers are more than ‘colouring in’.

  • Christine Frey

    Very true points here Phil! Design should be at the forefront of every project. Without design, websites across the globe would look the same and culture will soon get lost in the digital space.

  • Christine Frey

    Very true points here Phil! Design should be at the forefront of every project. Without design, websites across the globe would look the same and culture will soon get lost in the digital space.