Why does design matter?

And how design cognizance can benefit you (and your business).

Dylan Shaffer
Oct 8, 2013 · 3 min read

Design is one of the most powerful means of communication in today’s world. It subconsciously — or for some of us, consciously — affects many of the decisions we make throughout our lives.

So, what is design, and why should you — or anyone for that matter — give a damn about it? The word design embodies a multitude of definitions, both exuberantly broad and exquisitely narrow. Much like “love”, “spirituality” or “community”, design itself is very much open to interpretation. The Design Council phrases design rather eloquently, saying that:

“design [can] be viewed as an activity that translates an idea into a blueprint for something useful…”

It’s this definition that should invade your psyche for the rest of this discussion.

It’s more important to note that in recent culture, design has been modified as a “buzzword” to reflect superficial beauty when pertaining to objects. And while a commercial product such as eating utensil, tennis shoe, or microwave can make a lasting impression with its aesthetic value, the level of its outward beauty does not alone embody the principles of great design. No matter the standard of ingenious style, no design is any good unless it fulfills the need of a user — and fills it well.

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So, with that being said, why does design matter? Why should anyone — why should you — learn to “see”?

Even as a “non-designer”, learning to “see” through the lens of design is one of the most useful tools to add to your cognitive portfolio. Not only will it enable you to appreciate good design — or on the contrary, express mental disdain for bad design — but it will give you the means to leverage design in your favor.

Design is a powerful tool once a creator is able to harness its true potential, as it’s pervasive throughout our entire lives as inhabitants of the planet Earth. Design alone can determine how we feel, what we do and how we look. It [design] plays an extensive role in the way in which we engage with: food, fashion, media, daily commutes, technology and various other elements in our lives. And whether or not those elements become a source of satisfaction boils down to, you guessed it, design.

The pervasiveness of design cannot be ran from, but we can be thoughtful towards the impact it has on our lives and use that knowledge to position ourselves among the “seeing elite”.

You might be asking yourself, what’s in it for me? Simple. Design leads to profit, or so studies would suggest. One of the most conclusive studies ever published on how design impacts profit is that of the Design Council in 2005 which examined the portfolios of 63 companies traded on the FTSE through a period of 10 years, between 1995-2004. The study culminated the evidence that the companies emphasizing design outperformed the FTSE 100 index by 200% during the span of the study.

Simply put, a well designed experience can lead to more revenue. Money demands attention, therefore, design demands attention. Learn to “see”; every brick, every stitch, every pixel — they all count.

Design well, make money.

If you would like to discuss embodying “design cognizance” to enhance your life or business in more detail — or even have a chance to work with me — contact me, I swear I’m friendly.

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