MAKING THE INTANGIBLE TANGIBLE
By local brand and design consultants, Wonderstuff
In the democratised world we live in, everyone is entitled to their opinion (and rightly so). And a lot of the time, your opinion is all that is required.
But it’s important to remember that without anything to back it up that’s all it is, your opinion. Or as W.Deming put it;
“Without data you’re just another person with an opinion.”
Like we said, a lot of the time, your opinion is more than adequate. But when it comes to significant decisions, most people would agree that opinions need to be balanced with data. Now we’re not saying that all your decisions should be driven solely by data — after all who wants to share an ice-cream with a purely functional human? — just that the most wholesome and reliable opinions are always formed in the presence of information.
Maybe we’re biased (OK, we probably are biased) but we believe that an investment in design is a significant decision for any organisation. Whilst it’s undoubtedly important, it shouldn’t be enough for you to simply ‘like the design’ because of its aesthetics.
If you’re an ambitious organisation, your measuring stick should be more than this. Yes you want to ‘like’ the outcome, but you also want to know that you got a return on your investment and that the outcome helped you solve a problem or has otherwise moved you closer to achieving your ambition.
Define the Problem
Good design is all about problem solving, and so the best way to measure the success of a design project is to start by defining the problem. Once that’s done and the project is underway we can assess progress by whether the problem has been solved. If the project has been a success, you will probably barely remember the original problem, and a few others will have been solved along the way too.
Like it or not, financials are the metrics of business. But too often people think of design as being purely judged on opinion only, and so we don’t attempt to justify it financially. However, if you start by defining the problem (that includes the financial effect), design’s financial value in providing a solution will be known, and design effectiveness can be measured.
What’s more, measuring a design’s effectiveness can pay huge dividends. Once design is understood as an investment in problem-solving that can deliver tangible financial and non-financial benefits, organisations will be able to use design to make real improvements to every aspect.
In 2012 British Gas rolled out a new look Gas bill to all of its customers. In the words of their design agency ‘A piece of paper that goes to more than 10 million customers is more than a simple re-design’. Following the launch of the redesigned bill, British Gas saw; a 10% drop in customer queries regarding bills, leading to a financial saving for the energy supplier of £750k per year. Was it a success? Yes. How did they know? They measured the results.
It’s important that we assess design properly, because if we ask the right questions we often discover that the impact of design more than covers its costs – whether that’s in revenue generation or in cost-savings – and that’s before we measure the plethora of non-financial benefits around engagement and behavioural change.
Design has the power to turn around the fortunes of a struggling business, save jobs and boost morale; it can take a product from obscurity to being number one in the sector; and it can motivate and align stakeholders behind a brand. And it can do all of this in ways that are measurable, tangible, and provable.
In this way, the case for design and its effectiveness is comprehensive. If you’re the person responsible for investing in design in your organisation, focusing on design effectiveness can;
• Prove the commercial success of your work, demonstrating a worthwhile investment
• Help champion the case for design within your organisation
• Provide a solid case for protecting and increasing your budget
The next time you set out on a design project ask yourself, Was it a success? How do you know?
This blog post was written by one of our valued members, Wonderstuff. Visit their website, or find out more about the importance of design effectiveness by requesting a Wonderstuff
Design Effectiveness case study.