FAQ │ Bridging Design and Business: A Mutual Path to Success

Jul 8, 2023Dianne Eberhardt

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Dianne: Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of Pixelated Perfect. I have an FAQ for you. Super excited about this and this is something that I think is very important for all you designers out there. So this episode is all about design and business. Do they go hand in hand? Spoiler, the answer is yes. We're gonna talk more and more about how you can think, of a business approach while you design. So the goal is to understand the collaboration between design and business and emphasize the importance to you guys, the designs to understand business dynamics, so that you can go into any of your design decisions, contributing to the success of the business. So super excited about this one. <laugh>, let's dive right in. So what is the role of design and business? Do designers need to know the business side of things to design?

Dianne: Absolutely. I think a differentiator from a designer that's starting out and growing in their career is knowing the business side of design and the company. You have to understand business. You have to be able to go in and pitch why your design decisions are going to directly impact the business that is so important in your career. And that I think has really continued to allow me to grow from designer, product designer to kind of leading design teams to founding a company knowing that business side.

Dianne: So let's talk about business goals and design decisions. So I'm gonna share an example with you guys of where business objectives impacted my design approach, our design approach at the design project. So recently we had a company that came to us. We'd been working with them for quite a while, built a great process, a great relationship and we were focusing on the users and continuing to build around things, but they came to us and they're like, Hey, we need to pause our subscription because we need to raise money. And this gave us an opportunity to go in and say, Hey, totally fine, that makes sense, but what, what are you doing here? What are you raising money for? Like, how are you raising money?

Dianne: What is your pitch deck? And they were like, you know what? We have all these visions and ideas of where we want our product to go. And we're having a hard time like being able to pitch, show what we have currently in those dreams and where we see ourselves going, and understanding our target users and selling those to investors. So we came in with the approach of like, Hey, we understand. So you are in fundraising mode. It is not about building directly for the user, it's about building for an investor. So what we can do is we can switch gears and we can focus on building a really great prototype. It looks really good, good, it functions well. We have not approved it with users or anything, but it's a great way to sell these big ideas you have, right? And by us being able to understand where the company is currently, what their stage is at, and what they're looking for, we can pivot our design needs to meet those needs and can continue to work with them, right?

Dianne: So that was key. We continued to keep that relationship alive. And so that's just like a, a little example of how, how business, by understanding the business side of things, you can really understand and continue to build really strong relationships with your customers. So let's talk about bridging that gap. So there's often a communication gap between these stakeholders, businesses, and designs. So how can you help the designer communicate the importance? So I think this goes back to something I've talked about quite a bit on the podcast. Something that we do at the design project is every time we do a feature, we basically ask a few sets of questions and this is to kind of understand the problems we're solving and this also helps us relate to the business, right?

Dianne: So the question is like, okay, before we get into all the logistics of the feature, I'm sure you've spent a lot of time coming up with documentation. Let's just start off with what is the problem we're solving? Okay, so really straight, so it could be like users are not getting through onboarding, something like that. And then it's deeper, like why are they not getting through onboarding? Do you have any data? Where are they dropping off? What, and I think another big question we ask is like, what does success look like? How can we make sure that our solution is solving this problem? Is it less churn? Can we literally come to you? And once we understand the solution, understand the problem, come up with the solution, and build the solution, how can we say it's successful? So using metrics as a baseline for showing the value of design is huge. That is a great way that you can take design and apply it to business. So you can say, Hey, this solution that we designed decreased churn rate by x percent, that is talking business.

Dianne: That is what the business cares about. Every design decision, every design that you make, you need to be able to defend it and explain how it can relate to the business. That is super powerful. So I think that example is really clear of how potentially you could do that. I think another really great thing that I suggest you do is to make sure you understand the business as a whole. So a lot of times when we have new customers, we do a lean business canvas. So this is like, what is your, what is your mission? What are your values? What are your differentiators? What makes you better than your competitors? Who are your target users? How does your business model work? How are you selling? How are you getting leads? It's so important for us designers to understand that business side.

Dianne: So that means when direct, like as soon as we hop into the design, we can always reference those key metrics or those key ways they're getting users and helping them redefine that. So I think that's really powerful. So this is a really great question. So this is the business of design. As a designer, can we influence strategic decisions? Should we do that? Absolutely. You should. You should learn enough about that company and the business to feel confident going in and adding suggestions and feedback. I think building that type of relationship with the customer where you're like, Hey, I am doing design, but I am thinking about design in terms of the whole company is really powerful. So if you set yourself up for success and that way and you go in and you pitch like, Hey, I saw that you have this in your onboarding but based on how users are coming into your platform, how you're selling to them, this is confusing.

Dianne: I think we should rethink this strategy. Here are some ideas that we could potentially test and let's collaborate. Let's brainstorm. I guarantee I don't guarantee, I feel very strongly that a company would feel very interested to learn more. What we say at the design project is that we are the experts in UX design. Our customers are the experts in their products. So we have to collaborate together. If we see a need in the market, if we're like, Hey, this user experience is breaking down, here are some suggestions to make it better, that is going to go the distance and that is going to make a huge difference, and validate you being within that company and kind of growing within that company. And the last question. This is also interesting. Any skills that are useful to do so? I think understanding strategic business is important.

Dianne: And I think reading about things like the lean model, some methodologies, understanding the double diamond, understanding some design and product methodologies as well as just understanding some business metrics and terms, and how companies execute and validate is really important. And I think something if you are like a full-time designer in a company, I think that if you go in and you're like, Hey, I'm really interested to learn more about the business side, whether it's with the project manager, maybe you can shadow someone. I think that's a really great way for you to gain that skillset and to really be able to push and grow your design skills so that you can keep moving up in the company by knowing the importance of business and design. I hope this is helpful. I would love any and all additional questions that you guys have on this. This is something I'm really passionate about. So please feel free to shoot me any questions and we can kind of continue this conversation. Thank you guys so much.

Dianne Eberhardt

Dianne Eberhardt

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