Don’t invest in design, until you’re clear on these things.

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There is no doubt about it, design is a powerful tool. Design, good or bad, is proven to change the way we feel, think and importantly – behave. That’s why it’s so crucial  to invest time and money into good, smart and strategic design.

In your business and life, design can help you to reach your personal, financial and creative goals.

To start with, good, smart and strategic design requires information, knowledge and insight.  We can use design as a tool, but first we need to know what we’re making and most importantly – why?

If you have a project that you’re looking to work with a designer on, here’s what you need to know:

  • Be clear on your purpose: If we’re talking about your business or a creative hobby or side-hustle here, you need to be clear on your purpose. A few of my favourite resources on purpose are More generally I like these resources on purpose – Marie Forleo on Purpose, a few useful exercises from Lavendaire and also this one on Ikigai. When thinking about narrowing in on your brand or businesses’ vision I like Kate Arend’s work on Skillshare, such as this class.   Not everything from here will help you, as with all things in life – take what you need, and ignore the rest.
  • Get big picture and also nitty gritty with your goals: Your goals are the why of this design process. Is your goal to launch a new website? That’s a big project, but it’s also a nitty gritty goal. Let’s zoom out… Is the website to help you take a side hustle to a full time business so you can work for yourself? Or is it to create an online space that connect you to a community? What’s the big goal here? These insights lay the foundation of the work to come.
  • Who are you speaking to? Think of design as a form of communication, but instead of being written or spoken, it’s experienced through visuals. You wouldn’t expect someone speaking Spanish to answer you in Japanese. They’re both languages, but you want  to know the language of who you’re speaking to. Fifteen year olds communicate visually very differently to forty-five year olds on linkedin. Get clear on who your audience is, and how they communicate. Often we can be a part of our own audience, as our businesses are answers to questions or problems that we have decided to tackle. That’s useful, use that insight and understanding.

I would advise against financially investing in any design until you have laid this foundation. For some people, working with someone who can help you with some of this, like a brand strategist, is the right choice before working with a designer.

This is a part of the design process that can be applied outside of graphic and web design too. You could use this processes when working on a project in your house. I  was speaking with my sister this week and she has just redone her laundry room. It’s fully exposed in a hallway, so she sees it daily. Her purpose is to have a tidy and well organised home so her family and her can enjoy more time being together. Her goal was to create a well organised space where everything has a place. She knew she was designing it for her husband and her to access, and also her two young children. Two different audiences, two different experiences of the space. That insight led her to investing time and money to fix it, and helped her to decide how best to implement design to do so.

Know your purpose, know your goals, know your audience – only then invest financially and time wise into design. Because everything costs more and takes more time than we initially think it will. SO it has to be worth it.