June 8, 2016
Design provides value to a business at any stage, but there are specific points in your company or project where engaging with a design firm provides the maximum amount of value to your organization.
Here are some of the best times to bring in outside support from a design team.
When you need help articulating an idea
You might have specific ideas around the next iteration of your product and are wondering what to do next. Maybe you have some sketches on a napkin that you want to socialize internally or with strategic partners.
At this point, design can help with customer research and validation to ensure your idea is strong and defendable. From there, an infographic, strategy deck, prototype or storyboard can help you start gathering real feedback from your customers or stakeholders.
When you don’t have in-house design leadership
Depending on your company, you might not have sufficient design talent in-house. Maybe you only have access to a small team of designers, but what your project really needs is a seasoned design team to lead the initiative or share the methods and process to inform the organization of a user-centered approach.
Senior designers are capable of seeing the larger project vision. They’re communication double-edged swords: they can keep junior designers on task, while also communicating high-level strategy to stakeholders.
Experienced design teams bring to the table a set of standards and best practices that your team can rely on and reference. The devil is often in the details, which is where a seasoned design team with years “under their belt” can set you up for success.
When there is uncertainty on direction
Have you ever realized that you spend more time talking about what you’re doing than actually doing what you’re doing? If you answered yes, you’re not alone.
This is often a signal that your team is unclear on what you’re building and where you’re headed. Working with a design team at this point helps align the team around a vision — a vision that’s created through the lens of your customers. At this point, design can also help to create a shareable document or prototype to communicate your product’s direction.
There’s too much work and not enough talent
So much to do, so little time — and so few resources. Maybe you just raised money, have a new opportunity or a shorter timeline. Either way, you could use some support to come alongside your team.
Bringing in an external design team, especially one that is accustomed to collaboration, can help give you the extra hands you need while also bringing an often-needed set of fresh eyes.
You’re looking for new ways to serve your customer
There are a million ways to provide value to your customers, but you’re looking to find the one that works best for you. Because you live and breathe today’s version of your business, customers and product, you could potentially use some help planning for the future.
An outside design team is a great way to generate insights, new opportunities and product ideas. They will start by using you and your customers to learn how things are today and then help imagine how they add value tomorrow.
You’re looking for ways to be better
Products and brands can become stale after a while and you may be looking for a refresh. You also might realize that your customers have changed over time and your messaging no longer speaks to them.
Utilizing a design team can help by seeing how you resonate with customers. They can test and gather insights to help with your next iteration.
These circumstances encompass some of the hardest problems organizations face and engaging with an outside design team is an efficient and valuable way to solve them. This inherently collaborative process aligns the key players in your organization to strategically meet your customers’ needs and provide value.
Editor’s note: This piece was originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal.