Are You Really Ready to Grow Your Design Team? :: UXmatters

Creating the Conditions for Design Success

How can your organization ensure the maximum ROI (Return on Investment) from your design practice? Read on to learn about three essential elements that should be on your checklist for design success.

1. Apply design to solving strategic problems.

It’s an oft-heard refrain that designers should have a seat at the strategy table, and our data bears this out. For a company to reap the full benefits of design, it is essential that designers have a voice at the highest levels of an organization. Our research revealed that the design teams with the greatest impact are nearly three times more likely to be involved in critical business decisions and to be peers with their counterparts in Engineering and Product Management. They are also four times more likely to own and develop key products and features jointly with key partners in those other disciplines.

According to our findings: “Design is reshaping product development and corporate product portfolios at nearly 70% of companies. … Design is well integrated into every step of product decision making and evolution at about two-thirds of companies.”

2. Use data to inform design strategy.

Our study found that the more a design team relies on the use of data in making design decisions, the more likely it will be able to drive efficiency gains and cost savings across the business. Very few of the least mature design teams achieve these sorts of business goals. In fact, just 9% of low-maturity design teams regularly measure and report the impact of their work.

Truly sophisticated design teams understand that customer research is just the first step in a design process that leverages data at every point along the way. These design teams use sophisticated analytics and reporting techniques to measure the impact of any given project as it progresses. Plus, designers work in partnership with Product Management and Engineering to use this information to choose which opportunities to pursue.

We found that most mature organizations “are masters of data-driven design. They have sophisticated practices for analytics, experimentation, recruiting for user research, and monitoring and measuring the success of specific efforts. They also have the beginnings of a design-strategy practice, engaging in market research and vision development. In these companies, the design team is empowered to pursue opportunities it deems important.”

3. Involve people who are not designers in the design process.

Our study reports that the achievement of greater business benefits and financial outcomes correlates with involving people who are not designers more deeply in design. In the most successful organizations, people from other disciplines—that is, who are not part of the design organization—have regular, substantive contact with designers and actively participate in the design process.

While design workshops are a great start, they shouldn’t be the sole effort in this area. Key stakeholders from Product Management and Engineering should actively collaborate with designers to shape requirements, prioritize scope, and deliver on shared goals.

In Conclusion

However, don’t let these findings dissuade you from hiring more product designers. If your business is to adapt to changing customer expectations and digital disruption, it is essential that you build robust design capabilities. In fact, it is incumbent upon all of us who create digital experiences to take a long, hard look at our organizational culture. We must ensure that our culture is conducive to the success of all the individuals we’re bringing on board. This is especially true when it comes to hiring designers.

The indiscriminate hiring of designers can do more harm than good. To unlock the magic a well-supported design team can deliver, you must first create a culture that supports design success. 

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