A vital aspect of any organization, big or small, is the department tasked with projecting the company’s image to the public and making sure the products created are designed according to specifications. We are referring here to the design team of course.
In a world whereby the average American spends about 11 hours per day looking at the screen of one device or another, design has become a key differentiator in the race to win customers’ hearts and minds. In fact, InVision has conducted a study with clear implications for the importance of design in today’s digital world. Figures show that 92% of companies that have actively empowered their design team could, at the end of the financial year, draw a clear line between the efforts of their design department and their bottom line.
The world of business is filled with concrete examples of big corporations going strong in terms of their investment in their design practices:
- Capital One has opened numerous research labs across the US to deliver services tailored to the modern consumer
- IBM has invested more than $100 million in its efforts to expand its digital design practice by hiring 1000 new employees and opening 10 experience labs
- The consulting sector is not far behind. Firms like McKinsey, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young have given the green light to the acquisition of design shops aimed at meeting the demand for such expertise in the field
Based on these facts, the importance of having a well-functioning design team cannot be underestimated. This is also the reason why we’ve decided to write an article about understanding the needs of your design team. What will follow are some useful tips for ensuring that your design department is listened to and empowered to work its magic.
Why Is Understanding Your Design Team Important?
Expanding on the points made in the introduction, we thought it is best to really cement in your mind the importance of understanding your design team. A study conducted by InVision on more than 2,200 organizations from all over the world, from big or small companies to nonprofits and Fortune 500 corporations, has revealed the following outcomes:
- Companies that have mastered the design process have seen results go far beyond just an improvement in product usability and customer satisfaction
- 85% of the organizations involved have delivered cost savings through design
- 84% of companies have said that a well-run design department has improved their time of bringing a product to market
- 92% of firms have noticed a clear line between the efforts of their design teams and company revenue
These statistics paint a clear picture of how essential it is for your design team to run smoothly. In order for this to happen the entire organization needs to embrace the design philosophy and get behind it in order to achieve the desired results.
Let Design Run Free
It might sound strange and vague, but let design run free means to allow your design leaders to interact with their counterparts from other divisions and not be limited to the borders of their own departments. Essentially, in successful companies, design leaders are actively involved in high-level business decisions and often engage in projects together with the leaders from engineering and product management.
For example, Netflix is well known for the level of independence it gives employees across the organization. The same philosophy is applied to their design team as well. Each designer is actively encouraged to question the status quo and think about new ways to improve and grow the business. Questions related to improving customer experience or fine-tuning the content discovery experience are commonplace.
Encourage Broad Design Adoption Across Your Organization
There are a lot of organizations out there that have one or two areas where their design teams are performing at a high level. However, a company wishing to embrace a more mature perspective when it comes to design should implement:
- A coherent design culture across the board
- Practices, principles, quality standards, and tools that enable design at scale across the entire company
- A framework whereby people outside the design team are encouraged to support the designing process
For example, at Google, there are mechanisms in place which support the growth of a strong partnership between engineering, product, and design.
Design Through Experimenting
Referring once again to the study conducted by InVision, results have shown that companies with productive and successful design teams have the proper channels for designers to experiment at any stage of their creation process. For example, designers in such companies are more likely to implement concept testing, A/B testing, and beta tests.
Going one step further, designers in such companies are often encouraged to involve customers in the research process so that they can test first-hand their engagement with the products being developed. As a real-life example of such an approach to designing, we can refer to Gap. Their design teams are known for testing early and often. Their preferred approach is to recruit employees from the company cafeteria in order to run quick tests before getting them involved in more formal tests conducted in their usability labs or online.
Take the Time to Understand Each Designer’s Passion
Design team management is not an easy thing to do at times. This stems from the passion that drives each individual to want to create only masterpieces. As such, designers tend to want to outdo each other most of the time. Normally, this healthy competition between team members is encouraged. However, when it comes to a design team, this same need to compete with each other leads to projects not being finished on time or worse not achieving the expected results at all.
As such, it is important for you to take the time and understand how each of your designers function and where they draw their inspiration from. Once you get to the essence of each individual, it will be much easier for you to know what type of projects are best suited for them. This in turn will help you to transform that need to compete into a healthy and productive competition.
Are You Ready to Lead Your Design Team?
We are sure there is no longer a need by now to underline the importance of a well-functioning design team. However, we hope now you know that having such a team in your organization doesn’t involve overly complicated management practices. You simply need to:
- Clearly understand why design teams are important in the first place
- Keep your design process borderless
- Encourage design adoption across the board
- Design through experimenting
- Get to grips with what drives each individual designer
The start of the process can be difficult, but with proper team training by your side, getting started will be a breeze. At Collabo Creative, we make connecting with your people our top priority. We strongly believe that connecting with the people that drive your business is key to a well-managed organization.
If this sounds like something your business needs to do, why not contact us today, and let’s see how we can help you implement the right techniques to having a well-oiled business machine. The beginning of any journey starts with one simple step — take yours today!