Driving decisions on dollars and conversion is half the battle – keeping design human centered is key.

I sat in a room and listened to an executive prescribe design direction and his recommendation on color palettes based on his personal preference. This decision of a color battle had been ongoing at this company for years. Yes. Literally, years.

The color in question was, blue. I believed, based on my past experience, research, focus groups, testing and seeing the revenue numbers from previous projects; that the color blue, in fact, was a smarter choice. I shared my findings, my experience and my belief, as a designer, that if the goal was to raise the conversion rates, generate more sales and make more money with this design, then blue proves to be a much better choice than a color which is detrimental to color blind people.

I ultimately lost the battle. Well, kind of. The color never changed and the topic was filibustered until everyone got tired of talking about it. I still did all my designs in blue and many of those whom I worked with all agreed that it was a sound approach.

The reason I chose this color was because blue resonates as the color most people familiarize themselves with online as a clickable color. In turn, research shows that this translates to a better experience and more conversion for consumers.

Design decision
As a designer, my decision was based on other people. It wasn’t based on any personal preference or some archaic way of thinking because “that’s the way it’s always been”. I put the needs of other before my own and used that as the basis for my decision making.

I believe it’s important to put the needs of those whom you are designing for first. When we put the needs of others before our own, even in our day to day work, it translates to something much more meaningful for people. There is a certain energy that feeds into the work that can’t be quantified. I believe, this, is one of the greatest x-factors to the success or failure of a company.

Business decision

Perception.

Leaders need to shift their perception within an organization if they want to cut through the noise and bullshit of our over-marketed digital world. The conversation needs to change. Leaders need to recognize that VALUE is the most important thing you can give to your audience. The money will follow. It always does.

In a business world driven by too much management, an over-abundance of business executives and the drive to always increase the profits, it can be difficult to wade through these beliefs about money driving the design decisions. But, I believe that this is a change in perception. It’s hard, but necessary.

Money is a reflection of the success or failure of decisions.

When we shift our thinking and our leadership’s thinking that design can actually drive profit, it begins to be a powerful force within an organization. There is an energy and a life-force around designing with empathy and putting the needs of people first, instead of the needs of the company’s profit margins. I’ve seen it first hand.

We read a lot about companies today who are shifting to a more design-centered approach with their leadership. Burberry, Nike, Samsung, Warby Parker, and Facebook to name a few. They get it. They realize that design leads the visual communication and, if guided by empathy, can be much more powerful than any business decision – even keeping the link colors green because “thats the way it’s always been”.

I’ve most certainly modeled the way I have started Nomadic in this way. It has and always will be a company that is ruled by design first. Putting the needs of others along with storytelling before any business decision. Why? Because adding value and being empathetic to your audience is much more powerful than debating over the status-quo of business driving decisions.

Real life example

As a designer at Disney, I’ve seen the benefits of putting design first. I’ve watched a company increase their online revenue from $2 billion to $5 billion in a matter of 2 years as a result of the small and robust design team I worked on moved the strategy and vision of a new platform forward by constantly putting the needs of the audience first. It was a long process filled with many hours of discussion and debate, but the topics were always driven by the desire to make the best possible product for the customer, not what the executive or leadership wants.

Our choice of link color was not a turnkey solution to raise the revenue this much, but it was a small part of the bigger design conversation. What color was it? Yes, you guessed it. Mother-fucking-blue.