The Struggle Continues in Measuring the Value of Design

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It’s not easy describing the value of design. Even looking to describe the value of design being optimistic. I often get by by reducing the discussion to 2 scenarios; what happens when design is used and when design is not. So it did not come as a surprise to me that at the recent Design Management Institute (DMI) meet up in Copenhagen, they concluded that the value of design can’t be measured”…or at least not in any standardized way”.

Then in the same breath, the Business Week article reports that the DMI delegates agreed that “…designers need to do a better job communicating their value to business”.

So if designers can’t agree on a standardize way of measuring the value of design, then how are designers going to better communicate the value of design to people who can only speak the language and understand things like metrics, KPIs and ROI?

The article offers some suggestions that are time proven methods. I’ll summarized them here:

Bridging the Gap between Design and Business

Starting with designers learning the language of business and vice versa, the walls between design and business should be broken down to allow for a multidisciplinary approach to solving design problems by using a blend “…of quantitative research and empathetic user-centered design”.

Make Design Strategic

Use examples of how companies have used design as a strategic competitive advantage to help move your Design Strategy forward within the organization. The article does not offer you examples of design strategies, but subscribing to Design Sojourn should fix that!

Measure the Performance of Design Instead of the Value

This is a good one. While you can’t really quantify design with design metrics, you can however look towards how the new design performed? Do people like your product more? Are they buying more? Will they recommend it to their friends? A lot of such questions are influenced by things other than design, as such Businesses will start to realize that design is a holistic activity and integral to many parts of the business.

Not a One Size Fits All

Getting design to become strategic is a different journey for every business. Thus my constant disapproval of the delivery of Design Thinking in a standardized manner.

All in all, a great read, check out the full article at BusinessWeek online.

Image by: katerha

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