Four things to know about Strategic Design

It’s not new. Strategic design thinking has been around in its current form since the 1950’s.

It’s recent popularity is being driven by:

  • The need to find design solutions to complex consumer experiences as opposed to designing objects or visuals. It’s more complex to design a contemporary banking experience across lots of digital channels than it was to design a cheque-book cover and letterhead.
  • Competitive forces – the standard of design is increasing. Consumers expect (and get) simple, connected and intuitive digital and real world interactions from the brands they deal with.
  • New ways to fail. In the old days, design wasn’t as ‘mission critical’ to purchase. In digital world it is immediately obvious and measurable if design has failed – bounce rates, poor navigation, not mobile friendly etc.

Strategic design gives us four principles to help us navigate the new complexities we face as marketers:

  1. User Centric

A focus on the experience of the user through a host of qualitative and co-creation techniques e.g. focus groups, accompanied shoppers, eye tracking software and so on. (The Politecnico di Milano have identified 28 discrete methodologies).

  1. Design Insight

Developing insights that define the parameters of the solution and lead to the most efficient, compelling and (usually) elegant design outcome. Great design is considered complete when ‘there is nothing left to take away’.

  1. Collaboration

Co-creation, enrolment and involvement with the wider client organization to ensure the internal functions, culture, ethics and style are aligned with the brand, product and service experience.

  1. Practical Creativity

A culture of ‘wider creativity’ among designers, exploring and prototyping alternative solutions and thinking beyond ‘design as styling’.

These four principles are the difference between strategic design and more traditional approach of ‘design as styling’.

by Ciaran O'Loan