How design gives business a competitive advantage?

January 21, 2019 Samir Chabukswar
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Do you want to have a competitive advantage and be a business leader? So, here is how you can make it happen through design. Read till end to get in-depth knowledge about how design can give your business a sustainable competitive advantage. 

You must have heard, it’s all about experience these days. Experience economy has been defined back in 1999 and now we can see its effects all over. Though there are technological advances, user experience is taking over products and services far and wide. This is the age of experience that has progressed from the old agrarian commodity-based economy to industrial goods economy, to service-based economies and now we are moving rapidly into the experience-based economy.

In the last 15-20 years, we have seen that businesses have taken advantage of technology or technological innovations to differentiate. But these days, technology is available far & wide to anyone in the world at the same time. Therefore, the advantages of having one advanced technology over the other are reducing very fast. Technological changes and innovations keep on happening at a very rapid pace thereby replacing old technologies. So, the effect of technological innovations on the businesses is not really permanent. 

Then, what is more long lasting or permanent? It is the user experience. Experience means creating or staging experience for the users that will give you competitive advantage and will give your business a long-term value. Staging or creating memorable experiences is quite possible through design thinking or user experience design. Now if you have already done this or if you already have a team of experienced UX designers, congratulations ! You have taken the right step, but if you have not done so, you need to know it’s benefits. For the benefits of design, read “Benefits and ROI of UX Design”

For now, let’s focus on how to use design to build competitive advantage.

How to get competitive advantage?

 In the previous blog, we talked about the importance of design in differentiating your business and why you should utilise design for your business. No matter what your product is, whether it’s an enterprise product or a consumer product, you can use design as a differentiator. Now the question is how to utilize design to outshine the competition?  For this, you need to know the benefits of design thinking in business. Here are 5 ways to use design thinking to get competitive advantage.

1. Focus on Users

 The first and foremost thing is to focus on your products’ users, understand their needs, aspirations, expectations, likes, dislikes, motivations from your product or the area of interest. Normally, you would think that I know everything about my users, but your perception may not be right. Treat your users like human beings and then use scientific research methodologies to elicit all of these needs and expectations.

User experience research, ethnography and certain types of surveys are best ways to know about the users. You observe your users using your product in their context, listen attentively to what they say and interpret what they feel. This can be done effectively through user experience research. Create personas and experience journeys for these different types of users and then your journey to take the next steps in design really begins.

2. Clarity about your business and goals

 The next important step is to have clarity of your business and your goals. You should ask yourself - Why am I doing this? Why am I employing a design team? Why am I doing user experience research? If you ask these questions, your business goals will get defined. Be clear on whether you are doing business to increase conversions, increase productivity, reduce training cost or improve any other metric. Then, it will be important to know the investments you are going to make in a design activity, both in terms of time and cost. It’s also critical to know who will take the responsibility. 

In a large organization, it should be clear whether it’s a bottom-up approach or a top-down approach. A top-down approach normally works where the management or the C level people are convinced about the value of design. They have a clarity on the business goals and then one of them can take the responsibility of taking design ahead. If you have already worked with designers or a design team, then you only know the benefits, but this is one of the last components of knowing who to work with and how do we work with them. 

3. Converting data points into design

 Once you have these two things in place - clearly defined business goals that you want to achieve through design and knowing about the users’ goals, aspirations, needs and expectations, you need to marry these two together to create UX design.

How do you do that? A right business strategy helps you to achieve this. Basically, a good UX design is data driven and this data could be from your business, from your users’ goals, from analytics, from competitors or from the current trends in the market and your domain. When all these mix together, you will have a crafted experience that works well both for the business and for the users. It is very important to note that most of these inputs would be qualitative in nature and you must find the right kind of team or an agency to take these qualitative inputs and convert them into real quantitative designs. 

4. Design Testing

 Just creating designs is not enough, the fourth and important step is testing your designs. At various stages in your product lifecycle, you should do testing 2-3 times. You can do a formative testing early on in the design, may be summative testing in the later part of the design and then A/B testing just before you release the design. Testing will ensure that you de-risk your design completely before it goes out in the market.

5. Deciding on establishing or hiring design team

 The fifth point is very critical. If you already have a good or bad experience working with design teams or designers, then you already know the value of design and you already know what good design brings onto the table and how it improves your products. 

If you have just started working or you haven’t yet, the critical decision is to make or buy - whether I should have my own team or I should work with an external agency. The very first experience of an experience design team is also very important. Because if you have a very bad experience right at the outset, your design team establishment may get delayed. So, it’s extremely important to select the right partner or the right team.

Wrapping Up

A great design provides a great user experience, which gives you a competitive advantage and a long-term value for your business. It differentiates your business and make you an experience leader in your domain. So, in order to outshine the competition, you must follow the five ways - focus on your users, have clarity about your business and goals, convert data points into design, test your designs few times and finally decide on setting up or hiring a design team. 

All these steps are important, but the last step is the most important one because ultimately, a great design team is going to furnish your users with a great experience. So, it is important to select a design team that talks about the value of design and that is familiar with ROI of design. If you want your business goals achieved with design, discover the exciting UX world with us !

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Samir Chabukswar

A sharp focus on value (and nothing less) is the mantra with which Samir leads YUJ Designs vision into the future. He believes that good design, innovation or even a business idea will only unfold strongly through deep thinking. Keeping up with market and business needs, Samir drives ‘User Experience’, from strategy-to-design-to-market.

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