There is perhaps no other time in history that design impacts our lives more than it does today. Designers play an integral role in how we choose products, how we use technology, how we determine what is premium versus what is not, and how we shape our organizations, both private and public. How graphics are created, the colours used, and the tone of the copy influence our reception and mood over the long term. In fact, the modern organization has become as focused on effective design as much as it is on delivering reliable, tangible products and services.

Given that design is such an integral part of modern life, Graphic Designers have become a central part of many adjunct fields, with Digital Marketing being one of, if not the most dependent on their skills.

When working with graphic designers, there are two kinds of employees; there is ‘Bob’ who gives his graphic designer actionable edits and suggestions like “Maybe a serif font would give a more modern feel. What do you think? We can also align left to create more balance.” There is also ‘Bill’ who can’t quite describe what they like but know they want it, with feedback like “The design is kind of boring. Give me some more excitement, some more pizzazz.”

We can tell you that most Graphic Designers are not quite keen on the ‘Bills’ in their organization. In fact, the ‘Bills’ reduce the flow of inspiration that creative designs need to thrive. More and more you will see employers in Digital Marketing asking non-creative hires to have a working knowledge of design and design tools such as Adobe Photoshop or InDesign. The industry has woken up to the fact that having more ‘Bobs’ helps to improve creativity and productivity.

“At the core of design is people.” – Matthew Manos (Award-Winning Design Strategist and Entrepreneur)

Since great design is essential for today’s businesses, it follows that every employee — including you — should be familiar with great design.  You can take our word for it, every #TeamDigita member is familiar with great design, from our CEO to our office manager, and it has yielded so many advantages. Here are 4 benefits of having design-savvy non-designers on your team:

1. It Improves Communication

If the design team is communicating with colleagues without a design background, those colleagues may be overwhelmed by jargon and may even come away thinking that essential details are insignificant (thinking that designers are overthinking). Simply understanding the significance of terminology used in a discussion can ensure that all parties come away with a complete understanding and appreciation of what is required. Furthermore, everyone can weigh in on the conversation, which improves synergy and team morale.  At Apple Inc. for example, most employees are knowledgeable in design thinking and basic design principles. They can give product design feedback internally, resulting in the fantastic user experiences that many of us enjoy. As one ex-Apple designer put it, “Everybody there is thinking about UX and design, not just the designers”.

2. It Enhances the Creative Process

When designers seek inspiration, it is always better to work in a space where creativity and the ability to articulate that creativity are present. The opinions of non-creatives have great potential to lead to design breakthroughs, because, as we all know, teamwork makes the dream work.  3M, the company behind Post-It Notes, is very well-versed at this. The company actively encourages every employee to be a designer and an inventor. Time is set aside for every employee to innovate and design, and suggestions are always welcome. The idea of design is so integrated into the company’s culture that it has built a 38,000 square-foot Design Centre. It is meant to allow for the incubation and collaboration between graphic designers and packaging & materials personnel, all under one roof. They recognize that design and communication from across the company led them to the Post-It Note, and will lead them to even more innovations.

3. More Eyes on Design = Less Embarrassing Errors

Knowing good design gives employees the ability to spot errors in design quality at critical stages, the most critical of which is before deployment. Without design knowledge, these lapses may be publicly distributed, leading to costly corrections. When we think about the problems that bad design has caused in the past for companies, for example Lasco and Tropicana, we want to ensure that every possible layer of quality assurance is present.  

In Lasco’s case, their Whole Milk Powder packaging redesign was not well-received, leading to the company reverting to the original design. Since the brand appeals mostly to older consumers, the best approach might have been to introduce change gradually to make it more modern as demographics change, as opposed to a sudden change which upset their consumers.

As for Tropicana, their orange juice imagery was changed from an orange with a straw in it to a glass of orange juice. The backlash was fierce and immediate, with a double-digit drop in sales, forcing a reinstatement of the original design. Designers have theorized that the reason may have been two-fold: the first theory is that consumers sometimes dislike change, and the second theory is that the a glass of orange juice is not focused on authentic fruit, which is what Tropicana should represent to the consumer.

In both cases, having employees with basic design and consumer knowledge could have provided critical feedback, as opposed to having the design team work in silos.

From Top- Left: Old Lasco Design, New Lasco Design, Old Tropicana Design, New Tropicana Design

4. Increase in Human Capital

Non-designers, when given some design knowledge, may be strongly encouraged to improve those basic skills. This leads to an increase in the human capital of the organization, employee retention, and upward mobility. Again, Apple Inc. gives us another great example of why improving design thinking and design capital throughout the company is important. One of Steve Jobs’ major successes was his ability to make everyone care about design, from a top-level executive to a non-designer team member. Today, design within Apple is informed by various facets of the company.

Improvements in communication, creativity, quality control, and employee growth are just the tip of the benefits iceberg; there are no doubt more reasons why non-designers in an organization should learn design. #TeamDigita‘s designers and “non-designers” members strongly encourage this thinking for modern organizations to reap all the benefits you can! Contact our design experts today for all your design needs.


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