Design strategy: Designing for outcomes

Looking at design

I’ve always loved this quote from Dean Poole. Design, he says, is creating things for clients who “don’t know what they want until they have seen what you’ve done, then they know exactly what they want and it’s not what you did.”

So often, companies get design wrong. Designers frequently argue clients get the aesthetic wrong. That may be true, but I think it’s deeper than that. Actually, more than one party can get the function of design wrong. Design actually fails when people haven’t designed in human terms exactly how they want the recipient to act/react.

Recently, Seth Godin observed that great design is about getting people to do what you want. “The goal,” he says, “is to create design that takes the user’s long-term needs and desires into account, and helps him focus his attention and goals on accomplishing something worthwhile.”

I agree – and that changes the question that every brand owner should ask of their designer. The question is not so much “will they like what they see?” but “what will happen next?”. As a result of what has been designed, will they pick up the book?, will they find their way to the train?, or will the design not work and the shopper will walk past his favourite tin of tomatoes because he didn’t recognise it anymore?

Design works when people do what you want them to do as a result of what they are presented with. Look for that to happen. Look closely.

Acknowledgements
Photo of “What are you looking at?” taken by nolifebeforecoffee (stencil by banksy), sourced from Flickr

 

 

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