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How you can change the fortune of your business with design
And why you should
Huge shout out to my colleague and friend Josh Thayne for his help on this article. He’s a design genius and a great friend.
Why does design matter in marketing?
It’s no secret to any product manager, project manager or marketer that design and other functions of the business often butt heads.
Not necessarily in a negative way, but the nature of the roles require different ways of thinking.
Marketers, product managers and project managers all want to move fast, break things, and get things done. Designers do too, but they go about it in a different way.
This highlights the first reason that design matters in marketing:
Everything in the world is designed
A 2x4, your screen, a mouse, the website you’re on, everything, physical and digital has some layer of design put into it.
Design affects how we interact with the world on a human and emotional level. Good design results in positive emotion and interaction. Bad design deters engagement, reduces retention and sometimes even causes frustration.
As non-designers many of us go through our days not really thinking about the ways that design affects us, but it certainly does.
Maybe you’ve gotten frustrated by trying to put together a piece of Ikea furniture, or maybe Adobe crashed on you one too many times and you did something like this:
Either way, when you sit down and think about the role of design in your life, it’s inarguably a crucial role.
So why should it play any less of a role in your business or marketing efforts?
Design is so crucial to marketing that one study by professors from Northumbria University and University of Sussex found that in 94% of web interactions bad or inappropriate design was the reason they rejected a website or mistrusted it. Only 6% considered content to be more distracting.
There is a lot on the line in marketing and every advantage is crucial
Impressions and opinions are made in seconds and it takes long exposure and experience for those opinions to change. In fact most users have made up their mind about your website (or ad or insert your marketing material or product of choice here) in 50-500ms.
These studies really establish the risks and the advantages to bad and good design.
To some degree, this can give small and new businesses an advantage because if a potential user is exploring new products, good product design or attractive marketing can acquire a user faster than the better functionality of a competing product.
Lean launching vs perfect launching
Anyone who has ever worked on a product or marketing campaign knows that resources and time are always the most inhibiting factors to launching the best product possible, so how do you decide what to do?
Well in an ideal world, you have enough time to get the project done the right way, but that rarely happens in reality.
How do you handle the constraints that real life work and business inflict?
The ideal here is to determine what is the minimum viable product (MVP) and launch that with the promise of iteration.
Personally I prefer this method because I’d rather put out something, collect data and then make my iterations based on what we’ve learned.
Most product orgs prefer this as opposed to launching nothing until the product team deems the product is perfect (they’re usually wrong and need further iteration and testing anyway).
The problem with this strategy is that often no follow up iteration is ever done.
Far too often marketing campaigns, websites, products, you name it, get launched as an MVP, very incomplete, and are never revisited for improvements.
There can be many reasons why, including changes in company direction, changes in resource allocation, or that the MVP did what it was supposed to do, it generated revenue.
People bought the product and the company made money.
Thanks for playing.
The problem is the experience for users is terrible. It builds distrust and frustration with a product and company. It even frustrates developers and PM’s who know the potential of a great product.
The good news here is this leaves a gap in the market for someone to come in and develop something the right way and steal the users of companies like this, and that happens more often than you might think.
So what do we do? How can design really change my business’s fortune?
So how can you use design to the fullest, especially when design is such a limited or restricted resource?
The answer is to launch lean, collect data and iterate in waves.
Lean launching means defining the MVP and launching that. But that’s only the first part. The second part is to keep the promise you make to your users, improve the product, slowly is fine, but do it.
This builds trust with your users who now understand that when you say something, you mean it. It builds life long, engaged users who will come back and buy your product because you actually focus on making the best product possible and providing the best user experience.
Design plays a crucial role in everything we launch and do, but good design takes time. By giving your designers enough time in pre or post production, you build user trust, and have a product that works. You also prevent your competitors from stepping in and doing what you didn’t, launching a better product.
So how can design change your business’s fortune?
Design is at the core of the relationship between you and your users.
It’s the unspoken language a business can use to build trust, and trust is the basis of user acquisition and retention.
Do you really want to skip over that?