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Five Ways Design Can Improve Your Business

Design is a hot topic in business right now, but oftentimes the impact of design can be hard to articulate. This article will to clearly show you the five biggest ways design can improve your business and give you tips on how to make it happen.

#1: Design lets you code less

Your team came up with a new idea. And everyone thinks it is a good one.  How do you know for sure? The truth is you don't know until you get feedback from real people. In the past, this required you to build software, which can cost $100k+ and take months to finish. Design provides you an alternative.

Part of the design process is prototyping. Prototypes are fake versions of software that take days to build, not months. While past prototyping software built clunky prototypes, new companies like Framer and Webflow allow us to build prototypes that are indistinguishable from the real thing. We can even use them to get feedback from paying customers.

How can I do this? 

Use the tools you know to test your ideas without code. Even if you aren't a designer, you probably use a tool every day that you can use to test your ideas. Build a presentation in PowerPoint. Send random people an email and get feedback. Even something as simple as a flyer can help you test an idea before building it. The idea is to keep the best ideas by filtering out bad ideas before they get your developers.

#2: Design gets your team on the same page

When you are climbing a mountain, your rope keeps you connected to your partner. It forces you to follow each other and stay on the same path. In business, it is natural to have different ideas than your team. Teams run into issues when they start going in different directions. Much like climbing a mountain, your team won't get to the summit if they are all on different routes. 

Design Workshops are group exercises that bring teams together. In a short hour-long meeting, the group gets together to talk about problems, brainstorm ideas, and sketch solutions. The role of a designer is to help everyone get their ideas out on paper to be considered by the group. 

How can I do this?

If you don't have time to run a full design workshop, make an effort to ask your team members for their opinion. When you have a decision to make, ask your team how they would solve it. If they have an idea, listen to it. Don't shut it down immediately. Write it down and bring it up to them later. If they don't have an idea, give them multiple options rather than just your one idea. That way, they don't feel pressured to say yes and you get better feedback on ideas. 

#3: Design gets you better ideas

In baseball, a player with a .300 batting average gets a hit 30% of the time. The highest ever was Ty Cobbs at .366. The best baseball player ever only hit 36.6% of the time.

We believe the same is true with business. Most ideas, 60% or more, aren't that great. But a few are amazing. 

Designers know this better than anyone. They spend hours coming up with different solutions to the same problem, knowing that most of them will be garbage. More than that, a great designer helps other people through this process. We challenge bad ideas because we know the bad ideas will lead to the best ones.

How can you do this?

When you have a new idea, instead of focusing on the solution you have come up with, focus on the problem. When you approach your team, use the phrase, "I think that ________ is a big problem for our customers. What do you think?" Then honestly listen to their ideas. This allows you to focus on generating more ideas, ideas that might even be better than your idea.

#4 Design prevents building features nobody will use

When you look at the product of a failed company, there is a very common problem that comes up. Many features that never get used. There is almost always a great reason to build something. But in the end, if users don't find it helpful, it is a waste of money to build. 

On average, every meaningful feature takes 3 months and costs between $20k and $100k. Because of this, it is extremely important to minimize waste. Design helps your company focus on eliminating waste. By testing your ideas first,

How can I do this? 

#5: Design helps you go faster

For climbers, the term "light and fast" is like doctrine. Light and fast means you only bring what you need and nothing more. By bringing less, your backpacks are lighter, which allows you to move quickly without spending more energy. With these light packs, you can go on to climb something much larger than you could on your own.

Design does the same thing for your company. We slow down to help you focus on being smooth. On doing things in the right way rather than blazing ahead on all cylinders. We eliminate waste and only focus on building things we need. Because of that, we can do a better job on these projects and get them done quickly.

How can I do this?

Just like in the mountains, the easiest way to go faster is by carrying less stuff. Talk to your staff and find features or ideas that are just not worth having. Then take them out of your app. We know it is hard to dump stuff that you spent time building. But having less in your product allows your product to be more specialized in the way it helps your customers.

We have seen businesses completely transformed by taking on principles.

Want more ideas like this one? 
Twice a month, I send an email teaching startup founders and employees to use design to improve their companies. It is a ton of fun!

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