We surveyed designers from hundreds of organisations to uncover three factors that impact design effectiveness.

Maite Otondo
Maite Otondo
one week ago

Earlier this year we surveyed over 400 designers working in many different sectors and locations around the world. Our aim was to investigate the current state of design and to determine under what conditions design could be most successful.

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We’ll be running the survey again early in 2020. If you would like to participate or be notified when the results are out, please drop us your details:

Increasing design impact

Like any investment or operational cost, design needs to be having an impact on the goals of the organisation. We concentrated our data analysis on what organisational and day-to-day practices are most likely to be in place in companies where design was said to have ‘contributed to an increase in sales, competitiveness, and/or brand loyalty’.

The data indicates there are three key factors to increasing design effectiveness. All three ring true here at Clearleft. We’d love to hear your thoughts on if, and how, these factors are nurtured in your organisation. We will be repeating this survey every year to track changes.

1. Empowered by management

The highest performing design teams are those which are empowered by executive management to identify and pursue unplanned or unrequested ideas.

Over half of design teams have the freedom to iterate solutions rather than be expected to get a perfect solution first time. This is incredibly important in maturing your design function, and why autonomy is a core part of life at Clearleft.

However, less than half of the respondents work by developing hypotheses and experiments to test ideas and solutions, showing a gap in structure to enable this freedom.

2. The right environment

Creating a physical environment that supports collaborative design activities is another essential factor present in 9/10 organisations where design is making an impact. Spaces that break down siloes and enable dissemination of ideas and process are not to be underestimated.

This means nurturing an environment where all disciplines can collaborate closely throughout the design and development processes, and giving all employees a good sense of customers and their needs.

While it’s encouraging that design impact can be improved by making simple environmental changes, it’s worth keeping in mind that while a collaborative workplace is important, the empowerment of design teams by executive management to pursue unplanned ideas is vital to design impact.

3. The importance of doing research

Over half of the design teams that have contributed to an increase in sales, competitiveness, and/or brand loyalty do design research regularly or at scale. In contrast, of those organisations where design was not having an impact, 95% are undertaking little to no design research.

Companies with the most effective design functions have integrated research and design teams. They are set up with research and design distributed throughout the organisation. The work of those disciplines is shared with the rest of the employees so that research and design become fundamental to the decision making and strategy of the organisation. It’s easy to see why and how this is beneficial to the business results as a whole, and perhaps why we’re seeing the increasing rise of Research ops.

Attendees of our Design Leadership Breakfast getting an early look at the report

What’s next?

We hope you enjoyed the insights we gleaned from this survey. By downloading the report you should gain some ideas about what your company can do to improve the effectiveness and impact of its design teams. drop us your details to be a part of the 2020 survey.

If you’d like to discuss the report on the phone or in person, or share insights from your own company email us at info+report2019@clearleft.com