Why Design Affects Your Bottom Line


In the numbers-driven world of business, it’s easy to undervalue design.

To someone who’s responsible for closing sales and meeting growth projections, design probably seems like a superfluous luxury. It’s the pretty wrappings. It’s the fancy bells and whistles. It’s the little niceties. But it’s not going to make or break the success of your business.

Or is it?

Humans are visual creatures. As such, design is one of the first and most important ways that a potential customer experiences your brand. From your website to the package on the store shelf to your products themselves, design plays a role in every decision that customer makes – from whether your company is trustworthy to whether they need and want what you have to offer to whether or not they are going to shell out their hard-earned dollars to buy it.

What you’re left with, then, is an indisputable fact: design has a direct effect on your bottom line.

Building trust

Imagine this scene: You go into a doctor’s office, and there are nothing but sick patients in the waiting room. The tile on the floor is cracked and dirty, and the chairs and side tables are tattered and torn. There’s an unidentifiable but unpleasant smell lingering in the air. The receptionist has a bit of an attitude. When she finally calls you back to meet the doctor, he’s wearing a stained lab coat, and his hair is disheveled. Do you really trust him with your health?

Does that scenario sound extreme? It’s no more drastic than the visceral negative reaction you create in a prospective customer when your website, packaging, brochures and business cards are poorly designed and show a lack of attention to detail.

Just as the doctor in our hypothetical situation may be a brilliant medical professional, it’s hard to see past the poor image conveyed by his office, his staff and even his own physical appearance to trust in his expertise.

Similarly, you may have a great product, but new customers aren’t going to be open to trying it because it doesn’t look like it’s worth their money. There’s too great a disconnect between the quality you claim and the quality of the tangible items they can see right in front of their very eyes.

To put it plainly, if you do not value your image, customers will not, either.

Creating desire

Today’s world is one of choice and variety. Anytime there’s a purchase decision to be made, the options are nearly limitless.

For example, let’s say you’re planning to buy a new laptop, and you’re trying to decide between a Mac, Sony Vaio, Acer and Toshiba. They’re all well-known brands, and if you get down to the nuts and bolts of their features and benefits, they’re fairly indistinguishable from one another. Even the differences in price aren’t enough to sway you.

So how do you decide which one to buy? You go with your gut feeling.

That gut feeling is nothing more than a reaction that’s governed by emotion rather than logic. Design plays a key role in driving that emotional connection between human beings and inanimate objects like laptops. It’s what makes us attach ourselves to certain brands because we like what owning or using them says about us.

Maybe you liked the feel of the Sony in your hands, or perhaps you liked the external casing on the Acer. Maybe you just like the image of yourself sitting at a Starbucks with that universally recognizable Apple logo on your laptop. No matter what strikes your fancy, it all goes back to design.

A good designer can pinpoint what it is that evokes a certain emotional reaction from an individual and translate that into visual images that help to forge a connection.

You have to ask yourself what’s sexy about your product and how to convey that in a way that creates desire. Perhaps you want your customers to feel a sense of freedom when they use your product. Or maybe you want your product to be associated with elite professionals. It’s all possible through well planned and executed design.

As hard as they may be to define, emotions and gut feelings drive buying decisions, and good design can sway those decisions in your favor.

Influence and motivate action

Really good design puts your customers in the palm of your hand. It analyzes problems and creates solutions that can influence the actions of your audience.

How? By steering and directing their actions in ways that work at an almost sub-conscious level.

Principles of design like visual hierarchy and balance ensure that people see exactly what you want them to see.

Think about how you process a typical web page as a user. Your eye is drawn to certain images and colors on the page. It follows visual cues from one element to the next. It skims big, bold headings to glean what the page is about.

When you’re on the other side of the screen, you need to make sure that all of these elements are working in your favor to put you in control and in a position to achieve the outcome that is most beneficial to your business and your growth objectives. Good design will make it happen.