Why great design is the key to landing – and keeping
New technologies come and go at a blistering pace.
All it takes is a single swipe of the finger for a smartphone user to end a budding relationship. Large, decades-old companies – from transportation to banking to retail – are now competing head-to-head with Silicon Valley startups.
Companies that want their brand to stay relevant longer than a fleeting social media message must prioritize customer experience – with design at the core of every interaction.
But why does design matter for the digital age?
Visually appealing, consumer-friendly interfaces are essential to making products useful – and delightful. Well-designed content is the keystone to any marketing campaign. In fact, companies that invest in design outperform their peers.
Over a ten-year span, the stock price of firms that placed a premium on design excellence outpaced the S&P Index by almost 220 percent. According to Forrester data, companies that prize creativity exceed their design-negligent competitors in market share by a factor of 1.5.
Case in point: Airbnb.
Early on, a company audit of the brand’s website revealed that ugly, amateur photos alongside descriptions of available properties was holding them back. In a smart design move, the company stopped letting users upload photos themselves and flew three photographers out to New York to take beautiful pictures for the site. Within a week, the new pics helped the company double their weekly revenue.
A strategic focus on great design is the best form of digital competitiveness. No modern business can afford to be out of touch with its customers or its differentiated brand value. Great design requires an understanding of how your brand uniquely solves customer needs.
Leading CEOs recognize the importance of design and elevate it to the C-Suite. Nike’s CEO has design credentials, and venture capital firms like Kleiner Perkins, Accel and Greylock are increasingly hiring design partners for the companies they invest in. But there’s room for improvement. In 2014, only 13 of the Fortune 125 companies had executive design officers or CEO-supported design departments.
The rest of the Fortune 500 are in for a rude awakening.
According to a former Blockbuster employee, the company missed obvious opportunities to redesign its retail experience. Blockbuster could have paired well-designed social networks with knowledgeable employees, branding itself as a local movie expert. Or it could have designed a movie distribution platform with a master movie search engine.
Netflix, with its intuitive search capabilities and recommendation-ready interface, simply out-designed the competition, thus offering a binge-worthy experience.
Any business that hopes to stay relevant must employ design to create useful, meaningful experiences and leave lasting impressions.
Watch next: A designer creates a sustainable fashion line that grows with your kids