“Return on investment is easy to measure. You put money in, you measure money out, divide and prosper” – Seth Godin, an online strategist.
What about return on design? We hope that the money time and creativity gone into our designs yields an investment for our business.
It is easy to spend allot of money and time in design but not elevate in benefits the way we might expect. A product may have a better design then a competitor, but it doesn’t make any more business, or any more sales.
Godin explains the different impacts design can have on business:
Some businesses have designs that actually harm their business. For example, the local store with the boarded up window, the drooping sign and the peeling paint is watching their business suffer because they have a design that is negatively impacting – that actively gets in the way of the story this business tells and the utility the local store delivers. The local store is ultimately losing money, customers and market share.
Godin believes most designs fall into this category. While aesthetically important design is a matter of taste, not measurable revenue. You might not like the way the liquor store looks, or the label on that bottle of wine, but it’s not having any affect on sales. It’s good enough.
Positive return in design is dramatically increasing. A soft drink bottle to an online web service can generate incremental sales and better utility as a result of smart design.
The Whole Thing
Some products where smart design is involved are the products reason for being. For example, a Porsche 911 is purchased because the owner loves the design. Therefore the importance of sales is based on a breakthrough design. With the need to spend far more time and money then your competitors who are merely seeking a positive return.
Evaluate your products against the above table, if you have a negative return on design maybe consider putting some time and effort into a fresher look and a well-run design. However don’t spend too much so that you are over capitalising and overinvesting unnecessarily. Watching a local store build a stellar custom building is the perfect example of an ill thought out design campaign.
Be smart in your planning, don’t skimp on a design. If you are aiming your products at a particular demographic, think about your design first. Who would purchase a poorly designed and unattractive looking boat over a sleek and modern design? When you rely on a design to make sales, skimping on this process would be foolish.
Godin teaches us to find the correct balance between what you are offering and your design. Being aware of the four impacts of design will help you make strategic business decisions.
You can learn more about Seth Godin here.