Why Stellar Design Will Continue to Drive ROI in 2020

Man sitting on couch with laptop

Unless you’re Apple, you may not think about design as a major component to your business’ success.  Typically, lead generation, ROI, market share, supply chain logistics, and email blasts take up the brain bandwidth of the modern day CEO or entrepreneur.  But the truth is, in a world dominated by social media and human DNA that’s hardwired to judge a book by its cover, design is more important than ever.

Too many brands and small businesses resort to self-made graphics on their Instagram feed, or worse yet, Microsoft Word presentations of their next event (gasp!).  We get that great design often comes at a cost and takes time, but making a poor first impression or building a reputation that you’re sloppy or cheap comes at an even greater cost.

We’ve always centered around the idea that design is your competitive advantage in an increasingly cut-throat landscape.  Often times, design is what separates similar products and grabs a larger market share. Still not convinced? Sink your teeth into the undeniable truths below as we make the case for why design is essential in business.

We’re humans, and we’re judgmental AF

Bette Davis is judging you.

No matter how enlightened and sophisticated we may claim to be, we are all slaves to our DNA rooted in ancient, primal needs.  “Half of the human brain is devoted directly or indirectly to vision”, according to Mriganka Sur, a professor at MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.  It’s in our nature to judge on first impressions, which is often the first thing we see since we are such visual creatures.

We are also wired to make split-second conclusions based on our belief system.  We fill in the gaps based on social normalities we’ve picked up throughout the years.  This helps explain why we typically associate more attractive people with success (look at our TV shows if you’re wondering where this belief comes from).  People that present themselves well with poise and confidence gain an instant likability.

The same holds true for your business.  When your first impression is a rigid, cotton-pressed, thoughtfully designed business card or an exemplary sales deck, the receiver automatically decides that you know what you’re doing and are worthy of their business.  On the other hand, when they go to your social media pages and find clipart and blurry photos of your dog, they have no reason to trust you. It takes about 50 milliseconds for a user to form an impression of your company based on your website, so good design is crucial.

Numbers don’t lie

Design-driven companies have outperformed the S&P 500 Index by 219% over the last 10 years (source: Design Management Institute).

The world of business is shifting, and new tools are emerging that give brands an unprecedented advantage.  The new landscape includes things like design and social media, typically things that appear to have an abstract or not readily-identifiable ROI.  While they may not be as black and white as old-school thinkers would like, their true ROI is evident in the coat-tails of these companies embracing the new mediums.  

Make or break the user experience

Often, the perception of design and what it entails is superficial – it’s not just how it looks, but also how it functions.  Going back to the aforementioned focus of Apple, design is the pillar on which they’ve built massive success.  They put the needs of the customer first, always asking how they can create a seamless experience for the user.  This thought process, for example, led to the decision that all products come fully-charged and ready to use right out of the box.  

UX/UI (user experience/user interface design) is a buzz-word these days and for good reason.  According to Adobe, “59% of consumers globally would rather engage with content that’s beautifully designed as opposed to simply designed, even when short on time.”  In addition, 38% of users will leave your website if it’s poorly designed. Couple all of this with the fact that we form first impressions based on visual aesthetics within milliseconds, and the case for design becomes even more relevant.

Good design also drives conversions.  When properly laid out, call to action buttons shine and the user is visually drawn to the most important information on your site.  Studies have shown that a site with superior user experience can increase conversion rates up to 400% (Source: Forrester).

Design is your competitive advantage

Today more than ever the consumer is faced with an overwhelming amount of product and service choices for any given category.  Often times, these choices are in the same price range and there isn’t much of a difference when it comes to function. The paradox of choice is alive and well, and the more choices a customer has, the harder it is to choose, and the less happy they will be.  Unless, of course, your product is so exquisitely designed that it stands out, and there really is no other choice.

Picture yourself standing in the shampoo aisle and scanning the numerous bottle designs.  One brand jumps out amongst all the other boring bottles – it’s matte sheen, stark color contrast, and simple text, screams sophistication.  And you pride yourself on your sophistication. You immediately grab it, and take it to the cash register. It’s design created an emotional connection with you, and made it an easy choice amongst the other hundreds of brands.

“Human beings have an attractiveness bias; we perceive beautiful things as being better, regardless of whether they actually are better.”  Therefore, design can be the determining factor for whether you gain a customer over your competition.  

It’s the same for social media platforms.  As users scroll through their news feeds, something has to compel them to stop – something that grabs their attention and stands out from the hundreds of other posts.  Careful design choices are what get a brand noticed.

Emotional connections are established from strong visuals.  Think about an inspiring piece of art or a moving photograph – you instantly feel something.  Moreover, people buy on emotional triggers. So when you can create an emotional bond with good design and valuable content, you’ve got a winning combination.  People will be drawn to you and will continue engaging with your content, which eventually leads to a conversion.

Design is truly the last frontier in a highly competitive world.  It can make or break your brand, and determine just how memorable you are in your audience’s mind.  For more tips, keep reading here to see why outsourcing your design needs is your next great idea.

Giana Cambria

Author Upperhand Creative.


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