Design Strategy: Definition, Importance And Process
Updated 4 November 2022
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Strategic design can help guide a company's design process and improve its brand identity. It has multiple applications in fields such as architecture, science, information technology and advertising. Knowing the scope and understanding the process of strategic design can help you develop and implement a plan that fits an organisation's requirements. In this article, we discuss the definition of design strategy, outline its importance and describe the benefits of implementing a strategic design in an organisation.
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What Is Design Strategy?
Design strategy is an extensive process that enables businesses to combine aesthetics with usability and match business objectives with creative solutions to achieve long-term goals. A comprehensive strategy can consist of several components and aims to resolve an organisation's existing issues and challenges. It can also take advantage of a company's benefits and positive user contributions. Applying a successful strategy to a business may involve adopting new ideas and trends while promoting changes in customer behaviour.
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Strategic Thinking In Design
Strategic thinking is a process that encourages designers and strategists to look at the design process as a problem-solving mechanism. It focuses on the company's ultimate goals and involves devising an action plan to achieve them. Strategic planning may involve extensive data analysis, understanding the broad applications of the strategy and developing a clearer vision of the achievable goals.
Professionals in design improve their strategic thinking skills through observation to optimise the design process. They may ask strategic questions about existing issues, analyse their observations, adopt insights from their formal design training and consider opposing ideas to broaden their perspective. This process can help designers gain better insights into a client's goals and various user applications to create better design solutions.
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Importance Of Design Strategy
Strategic design can effectively address the customers' needs and generate profit for a business. It can help apply the company's business vision to its products and ensure that it provides customers with what they require. Here are a few reasons why implementing strategic design can be beneficial for a business:
Helps create a multi-step design plan
A project without a proper plan can be challenging to execute. A well-defined strategy can evenly distribute tasks, order them into different priority levels and set parameters for the product design. As a design strategist, you can develop a multi-step plan to create and promote products that meet the company's design goals and engage customers.
Leads to a cost-effective approach
Developing a product or planning its production by using customer insights can create an appealing brand for the customer and increase revenue. A strategy can enable the company to define its target audience and develop a product that creates value for them. Design strategists can undertake detailed research, plan every step to understand consumer needs and predetermine the costs of each stage. This involves additional effort initially but is more cost-effective, eliminating unnecessary expenses and reducing the margin of error.
Enables prioritisation of tasks
A product's usability is not solely due to how user-oriented it is for one target audience. Various buyer personas may have different demands and product expectations. Design strategists can ensure that all product considerations receive adequate attention based on the importance assigned to the corresponding consumer group.
Provides clarity in decision-making
Once the strategic goals are clear, every team member can work towards achieving them both collectively and independently. A good strategy can help eliminate all the project's more trivial decisions and ensure every team member is working on issues specific to their area of expertise. This can also give the project managers adequate time to focus on high-priority decisions.
Improves market position
Branding design can help businesses appeal to their existing customer base and connect with new markets. Strategically implemented design can inspire companies to research consumer behaviour trends and anticipate client requirements. Designing products according to potential customers' requirements can also help improve the company's market position.
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How To Implement A Strategic Design In An Organisation
Developing a simple but effective strategy requires teamwork. You can undertake the following steps to implement a detailed strategy:
1. Establish realistic goals
The first step involves establishing goals regarding the product that the company wants to promote. Strategists can identify the product's aim and the purpose it serves for customers. This can help design the strategy to focus on specific business outcomes.
Outline the business goals, target audience, key message and competitors to start the process of a successful strategic design. It is also important to ensure that the design goals are realistic and measurable. As a strategist, it is advisable to establish achievable and quantifiable goals within a set time frame that balances the organisation's expectations with the team's capabilities.
2. Conduct market research
To create an all-encompassing strategy, it is useful to conduct in-depth research about consumer trends, target audiences and competitors. Check which methods are working for other companies offering a similar product. Thorough market research can help you avoid potential product and process design issues and better resonate with the target audience.
3. Create a brand identity
Modern consumers have multiple options and resources when choosing a product, so it is important for a brand to give them a reason to engage with its offering. Brands can form memorable and long-term relationships with consumers by engaging with them on an emotional level. As a design strategist, remember that you can build a good brand strategy by directly appealing to the audience's senses through a memorable logo or captivating visuals. You can also use distinctive typography, a colour palette, consistent imagery and colour psychology to inspire specific emotions.
Related: What Is Brand Identity? With Elements And How To Develop It
4. Produce a design brief and strategy
After you know how the company intends to brand and market the product, you can create a general summary or a design strategy brief. This can function as a guideline for the team and other contributors to the strategy. The design brief can include the project scope with an overview of the project, resources and budget.
It can contain the project deadline, deliverables, a detailed timeline of the project stages and the most important process goals. You can also include performance measures and parameters in this plan. Creating this brief can help save time, set project expectations for the team and the client and enable you to monitor the scale of your design.
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5. Design a testing process
The final stages of the strategy process involve gathering feedback and suggestions for revisions from the team and the client. You can also incorporate regular checks to assess if your strategy works and monitor the post-launch interaction. Your team members' feedback and recommendations can help you optimise the process and improve its performance. Some companies also obtain feedback from beta customers in a primary testing round to assess product usability. Strategists can implement the final optimisation process after this round to ensure that the end customer gets the best version of the product.
Tips For Implementing A Strategic Design In The Development Process
Organisations can use skilled design strategists to ensure their brand resonates with the right audience. A strategist can help them turn ideas into innovative products and services for their target market. Understanding how to implement design strategies can empower companies to create a unique brand identity and develop a loyal customer base. Here are some tips for implementing strategic design during the product development process:
Ensure that the product under development can provide a user-centric experience.
Adopt several strategic design tools available in the market to develop unique strategies.
Adjust the performance parameters over time.
Remember that strategy is an ongoing process.
Maintain a feedback loop to incorporate modifications and changes.
Resolve recurring issues and ensure they do not occur in the newer product versions.
Provide constructive feedback to the team to help improve their performance and ensure consistent growth.
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