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What’s often forgotten about design is that it’s not just about a pretty picture or functional object – design is all about the user. Whether you are looking at a digital product or physical one, it’s consistently designed with the user in mind – and not just aesthetically, but intuitively and empathetically. After a decade of rapidly evolving technologies, we are seeing businesses return to this idea of a deep commitment to the customer – whether it’s through new contactless payment methods, the rise of pre-order and pickup, or the surge in on-demand delivery options, companies are once again putting customers at the core of every business decision. At TheAppLabb, this type of work is the core of what we do as experienced mobile app developers in Toronto – it’s the beginning of our thought process and the end of our usability testing. From A to Z, we focus on what the end users of our products will see, hear, feel, and touch – and the most successful products combine this mindset with laser-targeted end-goals to create what we in the business call the user’s “happy path” (more on that later). In this blog, we’ll be showing you why design matters for business key performance indicators (KPIs), what different aspects of design are considered during mobile app projects, and how you can incorporate this mindset into your own processes and products.

The goal of good design: simplicity

Good business leaders fundamentally understand most key performance indicators like revenue, engagement and total lifetime value, but what about some of the unseen but highly impactful customer KPIs? A huge component in building out exceptional customer experiences lies in the hands of designers and the work they do. Throughout every touchpoint, designers are looking to reduce friction, remove barriers and create intuitive, accessible and predictable experiences. Given the rapidly changing nature of technology, design has rightly become a key partner for ensuring that customers can easily navigate the complexities that often accompany emerging technologies.

How design impacts your business success

One of the core benchmarks of design is to simplify complexity for the user while achieving business goals, and a strong UX/UI (we’ll get into this a bit later in the blog) has become the embodiment of this mission. Do most of us intrinsically understand why design matters? More importantly, why should anyone looking to build out exceptional digital products make design a core tenet of their project – and ultimately their project budget? A 2016 design study of 408 different companies found that the more a company invested in and focused on design, the more sales they saw. Those companies who had design as a central tenet of their business strategy (referred to as “design unicorns” in the study) found a measurable impact on core KPI’s like sales (+14%), customer retention (+44%), customer engagement (+21%), and faster product cycles overall (+30%). Whether a website, mobile app or B2B tool, nearly every business with a digital presence across industries can benefit from a successful design strategy. Investing in good design is essential as part of your user centric business goals and objectives. In the next section, we share some of the key KPIs that should be included in your customer-centric dashboard when creating your app development strategy.

The McKinsey Design Index

The team at McKinsey have started to look at design as it relates to an integral part of an overall business strategy and have developed what they coin as the McKinsey Design Index(MDI). This index rates companies by how strong they are at design and – more importantly – what this means for key traditional business KPIs like revenue and returns to their shareholders. The companies they looked at included medical technology, consumer goods, and retail banking industries.

The business benefits of user-centric design

The data from both the McKinsey research and the NEA report undeniably support the benefits of user-centric design. The biggest takeaways show an impact on annual growth, market share, customer satisfaction and overall cost reductions – here are just a few:

A strong focus on design equals higher revenue overall

Of the companies McKinsey categorized as being in the top percentile of the MDI, they found that they outperformed their competitors by showing an annual growth measured by revenue at 10% as compared to between 3-6% for those not indexing high on design as a central tenet of their business strategy.

An increase in overall usability scores (customer satisfaction) has a measurable impact on market share.

The McKinsey team also unlocked a study of a medical equipment group that tied usability metrics and customer satisfaction scores to executive bonuses as a means to meaningfully ward off competitor threats. The company focused heavily on developing over 100 concepts and prototypes that were deeply focused on usability and customer experience. In the end, this strong focus on the end user and usability (customer satisfaction) meant that their final design’s usability score exceeded 90 percent (and market share increase of 40%), compared with less than 76 percent for the machines of its two main competitors. Through a company-wide focus on and prioritization of the end user, the company was able to unlock the key to impacting their strategic business goals.

A strong focus on design thinking and user-centric design at the beginning of a development project has huge implications for the overall costs of the final product

By investing in up-front user experience (UX) research, you are reducing your overall development and engineering costs by reducing the total number of iterations needed, and ultimately reducing your customer/client support costs once the project is completed. A user-centred approach assures that you are building the right experience out of the gate, that end users have very little friction or challenges with your end product, and that they therefore require much less custom support once the product is in market.

A frictionless experience also means an overall increase in sales, customer retention and engagement overall

The team at NEA conducted a study of 400+ design centric start-ups and from this group looked at subsets of companies that they deemed Design Mature (raised at least $20mm in funding) or Design Unicorns (valuation of $1 billion). The criteria for these groups was having 20+ designers on their team and a shared belief that design had a material impact on their success. Overall they found that design had a measurable and positive impact on their success. Of the Design Unicorn subset they found even more proof of the impact of design thinking as a critical impact on results.

  • Design leads to higher sales: +14% among design unicorns
  • Design leads to higher customer retention: + 44% among design unicorns
  • Design leads to higher customer engagement: +21% among design unicorns
  • Design leads to faster product cycles: +30% among design unicorns

How we incorporate design best practices from the start

In every new project, our team here at TheAppLabb are focused on ensuring that we are delivering the best user experience possible. Whether it’s for a mobile app, web application, or emerging technology like AR/VR, the principles of user-centric design remain the same.

  1. User Research: We start by understanding the target audience and their needs. This involves conducting user interviews, surveys, and competitive analysis to gather insights.
  2. Wireframing and Prototyping: Once we have a clear understanding of user requirements, we create wireframes and prototypes to visualize the app’s structure and functionality.
  3. User Testing: Throughout the design and development process, we conduct user testing to gather feedback and make improvements based on user insights.
  4. UI Design: Our designers focus on creating visually appealing and intuitive user interfaces that align with the brand identity and user expectations.
  5. Usability Testing: Before launch, we conduct usability testing to ensure that the app is easy to use and meets user needs.
  6. Iterative Design: We believe in continuous improvement, so we iterate on designs based on user feedback and evolving requirements.

By incorporating these best practices, we ensure that our clients’ apps not only look great but also provide a seamless and enjoyable user experience.

In conclusion

Design is not just about making things look pretty; it’s about creating experiences that resonate with users and drive business success. Investing in user-centric design can lead to higher revenue, increased customer satisfaction, and cost savings in the long run. Whether you’re building a mobile app, a website, or any digital product, prioritizing design from the start is essential for achieving your business goals.

If you’re looking for experienced mobile app developers in Toronto who understand the importance of design, get in touch with us at TheAppLabb. We’d love to help you bring your digital product vision to life.

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