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For the last few decades, design in all its types and forms made a fantastic twist. Traditionally, it was about beauty and aesthetics. But somewhere around the 2000s, design started to become a primary motor of innovation. Today, it’s not only about making things look nice, but also about the way of thinking and working.

In fact, design principles became so appealing that people started to use them as guiding points for transforming organizations. This led to the emergence of business design – a discipline about applying design thinking to the organizational structure. Though this approach is all the rage now, not all companies embrace it. However, every business can make design work for their brand.

Being a marketer, I saw many businesses rise and fall because of design. All those succeeding seemed to follow a few simple guidelines. I’ll list some of these trends here for you to try them out and maybe onboard them in your company.

And since we live in the age of e-commerce, when most companies have their online presence, I’ll explore these trends through the lens of web design. The article will rely on the research conducted by Warwick Business School, as well as on some expert tips and case studies. I’ll also share our team’s experience at Chanty, a tech company I’m working at. So, how do we make design work for our brands?

What works? Design trends in business

  1. Make your design customer-based
    The story is as old as Methuselah. Business is not just about making money, it’s about serving our clients. You’ve got to keep that in mind, especially when design is on the agenda.According to the Warwick Business School research, the benefit of design is the greatest when it is intimately related to solving customers’ problems. Our ultimate goal, therefore, is not to create great design, but to develop a product (or service) that meets our clients’ needs. In other words, we should create a great Customer Experience (CX).In the context of web design, it means setting up a great customer journey. First, we deliver value to our website visitors, sharing some great and easy to navigate content with them. Second, we make sure they don’t get lost on our website, so if we match their needs, they’ll engage with us by making a call, a purchase, subscribing to a newsletter, etc. This is usually called ‘journey mapping’.Nowadays, creating a great UX for a website seems like a must. However, it’s surprising how many businesses neglect this step. There’s no doubt the game is worth the candle. As an example, let me share a case of Chrome industries. Here’s how their homepage looks now. 

    Chrome industries homepage.

    Not long ago the brand redesigned its webpage. Basically, they worked exactly on enhancing user experience. After mapping the customer journey, the designers built the navigation for company products exploration, as well as the path to purchase. This resulted in a 142% improvement in time on page and 10% increase in conversion rate.
    Setting up a great customer journey can be even more important when creating an app. Chanty team explores this customer-based approach to design on a daily basis. Building a simple AI-powered team chat, our point is not merely to create a nice-looking app. We strive to design a great experience for our users. Here’s an example. Below are two images – the Chanty UI at its early days and now. To make the tool more convenient for users, we wrapped up the icons we had in the right panel. We also made the left vertical panel smaller so our users can have more space for chatting.

    The Chanty UI in the early days.

    By making constant amends to the UI and UX, Chanty became a powerful team chat tool with a simple interface.

    This is how Chanty UI looks like now.

    To sum it up, journey mapping as a crucial trend in web and app design. This tendency goes ways beyond your online presence, as it’s always a good idea to take care of your customer.

  2. Use design strategically
    It’s all about the role of design in your company. It can be used as a service, as a key perspective, and as a strategic perspective. According to the Warwick Business School research, a strategic way of using design leads to greater benefits. But what does it actually mean to use design strategically?To put it simply, the strategic use of design means it is integrated into your product (or service) development from beginning to end. In other words, it is embedded into the organizational processes and informs your far-reaching choices. Apple is the classic example of a company where design is used strategically. Obviously, Steve Jobs backed the approach. Years back, his foundational solution – industrial design – allowed Apple to get back to the profitability. Now, it’s the world’s largest technology company.Let’s apply this trend to web design. Using design strategically (at every stage of building your website) should result in creating the authentic and principle-based online presence. 

    Imagine a user who has never heard about your company. For them, your business in the real world will be associated with your website. That’s why your online presence should build trust and credibility – it’s a must for getting leads and conversions you strive for.Let us see the case of Nixon, a lifestyle and accessories brand. The company had redesigned its website (here’s a whole story), which then received Webby Awards: 2016 Site of the Year.

    Nixon homepage.

    The crucial point in the report is about “taking into account the company’s values”. The new website was “designed in the style of its roots, philosophy, and future ambitions” of the company. Combined with other factors, this resulted in a 10% increase in average order value and 85% increase in conversion rate.
    Apparently, for achieving results like this, business people and designers should meet each other halfway. Managers will benefit from learning how to design the customer experience. Designers, in their turn, should do their best to understand business in its multiple contexts. This will allow the design to work strategically – no matter its object.

  3. Use design to add value to your brand
    Design can add value to your business in multiple ways. It serves as a powerful differentiator, sparking innovation and strengthening your brand.In the context of web design, this trend manifests in creating an uncluttered layout and strong visuals. A picture is worth a thousand words! And the marketing world is filled with proofs of that.For example, BB Dacota, women’s clothing brand, after redesigning their website achieved a 700% increase in CRM sign-ups and 60% increase in unique page views. All this because of implementing “bold typography, strong images, and a minimal elegance”. Here’s the whole story in case you are interested. 

    BB Dacota’s web page.

    In terms of marketing, videos can be even more effective than images, as including them on a landing page we can increase conversions by 80%. Animation also works great for drawing visitors to the home page, as it can communicate complex messages easily and portrays a brand as digital savvy.
    Luckily, you don’t have to spend all your money on the top pros nowadays. If you don’t have a design unit in your company, these marketing freelancer platforms help you easily find experts to satisfy your design demands.

Wrapping up
Design can boost your business growth in multiple ways. Being a key agent to transform brands, it can improve sales and production efficiency.

Three global trends of design as a coherent discipline manifest in practical guidelines for building a website. By making our online presence customer-based, we create a great customer journey and lead users along the conversion path.

However, they are unlikely to take any actions on your website if your brand doesn’t have credibility and trust. This can be fixed by making your online presence authentic and principle-based. Finally, strong visuals and video enriching your design can spark innovation, straighten your brand and differentiate your product (or service).

That’s all for now. Feel free to share your take on how design can boost your business growth! Drop in the comments.

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Aleksey ChepalovAleksey ChepalovAleksey Chepalov is a part of the marketing team at Chanty — a simple AI-powered team chat. This powerful and free Slack alternative is aimed to increase team productivity and improve communication at work.
Aleksey is keen on such topics as marketing, SaaS challenges, and personal growth.
View all posts by Aleksey Chepalov