Doing a lot, with a little: How do you judge design success?

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Posted by - Starbots Creative

Most marketers I know are stretched to do a lot, with just a little. I haven’t met many who don’t hold lofty dreams of how much they could achieve with a bit more budget. But they work with what they’ve got and they get results.

They’re superstars.

It stands to reason then, that we all want to be certain we’re spending our finite budget on the right things. And are getting value for money when we do.

‘Value for money.’ Outside of great service, what does value actually look like in design? How do you get the most from design once you’ve engaged somebody? For me, there are three areas to focus on, to draw-out design value in ways most people aren’t aware of (or don’t always practice for one reason and another):

lot of businesses fail get designers on board early

1)   Early doors open windows

In even the most established businesses, it’s quite rare that designers are brought in early enough. Designers are often seen as implementers rather than strategists and planners. But actually, a great designer understands your goals and strategic direction, so they can help you to achieve them.

A great scenario would be that you’ve selected your partner for the year and can include them at the strategy and planning stage, as a backdrop for projects to come. This way, your designer can advise on your plans in the context of their expertise. They can inject new ideas and possibilities into the way brands and campaigns can evolve, feeding into the creative direction discussion. All the ingredients to give you the edge over your competitors.

Of course, when deadlines are approaching or plans are evolving, it’s understandable that you’ve no option but to engage a designer when a project is imminent. But if you can, bring them in way before. As early as possible.

lot of great expectations

2)   Great expectations

When I say ‘expectations’ here, I’m not talking about the fundamentals of scope and deadlines. I’m talking instead about the kind of partnership you expect from your designer.

Do you want them to make suggestions to improve your existing designs?

Do you appreciate someone who’ll challenge your brand?

If you welcome opinion and ideas, let your designer know. This sets a precedent for the type of relationship you both have. (This is not the same as asking your designer to work outside the scope, or for free – only to think broadly and approach you with potential ideas that could become value-adding projects).

The other side of this relates to your goals for specific projects:

A straightforward symptom of unclear goals rears its head when our team are asked to squeeze lots of ideas or content into one design, which makes it less effective.

Make sure you can articulate a clear message to your designer. You need to be able to sum up in a sentence the goal of your design project – what do you want it to do? (I’ll caveat that by saying that we help people to get to that point of briefing, to clarify the brief together so we can ensure our design is goal-oriented).

a lot KPI

3)   Know what to look for

Here’s a question that sounds simple but actually, isn’t: what does good design look like?

When assessing design, many people would say it’s subjective – and it is, to an extent. At Starbots, we believe good design achieves whatever KPI it was created against.

A few fundamentals to help assess design success:

–      Was the campaign or project successful, whatever metrics you measured?

–      Do people’s first impressions of your company match your capabilities?

–      Will your target audience be interested?

–      Does the project meet your brief? Is it aligned with your overarching strategy?

–      Does this design meet company brand guidelines?

–      Is there a plan for where the project will go next in terms of design?

My goal with this article is a call to action for anyone who deals with designers

I have no doubt most people could be getting more value from their designer and that would be a great thing for everybody. Everyone is vulnerable to not knowing what they don’t know.

If you’re willing to reassess your perceptions about design, I’ll leave you with a few key questions to ponder before your next project:

–      Do you ask enough of your designer, and do you enable them to offer full value?

–      Is it clear what you want design to do for your business?

–      Is your designer a proactive partner, or simply reactive?

Let me know what you think – how else do you get maximum value from design?

Kate Cooper