Importance of Business thinking in design

Swarnim Agarwal | 30th March 2019

Nowadays most of the companies are looking for great design leadership. They are being told that their company needs a focus on design thinking and they are keen to adopt more design-centric principles. But when these companies talk to designers, they hear about craftsmanship—about brand consistency, and polished design, designers who can code, style guides, prototyping, and testing — the designer’s craft.

All of these things are good —even mandatory. But for us to understand the best way to help a business we have to start focusing on what are the things which make the business successful. We must first understand business. Then we will better understand where craft is important and where it is going excessively.

Instead, designers are mostly seen as someone that needs to have the important business goals explained to them in the most basic ways. I think our suggestions about design would carry a lot more weight if we were able to have some insightful conversations and offer some valuable suggestions about business principles.

Where we are –

There are a lot of designers that are starting to think seriously about how their decisions and suggestions impact their companies. Generally, our focus on user research and analytics has helped a lot in giving more credence to the voices of designers. We’re also seeing great examples of design-led companies and designers impacting the big businesses—like Airbnb, Pocket, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Slack, and many others.

I would say that those companies are as successful as they are because they have designers that are focusing more on what business needs than on how perfect every pixel is going to look.

What should we do-

we should spend our time learning about business principles — how to choose business models, how to manage teams, how to conduct competitive analysis, how to make projections, etc.

we should try to learn about the issues a management faces and try to use design to help them and solve their problems. we should try to find what keeps them up at night and help them to solve their problems — instead of ours.

The future-

I’m not saying we should start shipping poorly designed graphics experiences. We have to keep growing craft. If we don’t, who will? But let’s also start understanding the businesses for which we work and what they need to grow. If we’re able to do that, we will gain more influence and will create products that are more impactful—both for our company and for the people who use them.

Design thinking is an approach to creative problem solving that is widely recognized as a valuable course to human-centered product innovation. … Design thinking was born out of big corporations’ lack of ability to be creative and create new products and services that serve the unmet needs of their customers.

You need to make [design thinking] part of all processes and not just something you do on select projects. Starting by looking through the customer lens has to be ingrained in everything you do. Developing that foundation and creating that cultural change across all projects and initiatives is what it takes.”


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Swarnim Agarwal

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