94% of first impressions are based on design.
We all know that first impressions matter but in business, they’re even more crucial. You might get a second or even third chance to change others’ opinions of you if you’ve met someone in person. In business, we know that you have seconds to make a lasting impression on your customers. There are no second chances. Design is paramount in not just making a positive initial impression but maintaining those impressions by creating a consistent and pleasing user experience.
Design can sometimes feel like an end to a means, as opposed to a crucial, independent goal, because we think of it in terms of checking off arbitrary boxes. Sure, design can be understood as making things beautiful or meeting an aesthetic need, but design is more than that. Design clarifies your mission for customers through the digital experience. It’s a user guide as much as it is a delivery method for high value features.
But how do we take design from an art form to an industrialized craft?
What is the industrialization of design?
When we say we’ve industrialized design, we mean that we’ve put design under the same rigors and requirements as any other craft at Umbrage because we believe it’s just as important as development or product or sales. In order to see those same successes and for design to drive product goals, it has to be industrialized. We’ve taken design from an art form to a craft that scales and consistently delivers outcomes for our clients. It’s taking the experiential component of design and the visual aesthetics of design and marrying them seamlessly into the Umbrage approach.
Design focused on feedback from users, outputs and inputs. Experiential design is informed by our product research, stakeholder interviews, site/app maps, user flows, wireframes and prototypes.
Design focused on how visual elements and aesthetics dictate our experiences. We rely on aesthetic exploration, moodboards, visual design languages, visual interface design and product style guides.
Design isn’t a supporting character.
Design isn’t a supporting character in someone else’s play – not development, not product management and not sales.
In fact, it’s often design that can anchor a project when we’ve had to be comfortable with ambiguity. Design approaches a problem with a growth mindset, which means we’re okay with missing the mark initially so that we can ultimately land on a design solution that doesn’t just fix the immediate issue, but proactively mitigates other problems. It’s not often our customers know exactly what will be the best course of action so we have to be ready with creative solutions.
When a client came to us looking for a portal that would allow their customers to access their solutions in one convenient place, we knew user experience and visual design would play a crucial part. The portal organized the solutions in a way that allowed their customers to explore their options and select the best tool for their needs in a more visually organized and straight-forward way. Prioritizing the user experience empowered customers to make important decisions without having to compromise on any value to our clients.
When done correctly, design should live and breathe...
When done correctly, design should live and breathe wherever it’s hosted. It should respond to your customers, their wants and needs, just as much as it should meet your business objectives. Actually, those two should be intertwined and support each other.
The Umbrage approach
For many of our clients, we build the bridge from their wealth of knowledge to the user interface and translate it into an engaging and effective design that aesthetically aligns with their brand. Sometimes that means starting from scratch on visual and style guides, which is part of why we have to prototype our designs before they even reach development. This is where the Umbrage approach of Define & Design comes into play.
With our product management team, we use this time to align on overall vision, specific needs, functional priorities and product flows. We’re outlining our design phase and putting together wireframes that will be built out later.
When validating our solutions, we have to take into account the user, the market and the company to deliver a prototype that shows its real value and functionality, giving our clients the option to engage in building out these frameworks or hand-off.
It’s all based on our product-mindset. We believe that a well-designed product – your digital experience – can be executed with the same effectiveness and predictability as any other aspect of your business. From initial talks to creating a fuller picture of client needs and eventually development, design is an equal and contributing player in any successful product engagement.