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Business Design: Why Is it Important to Know About Business?
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Business Design: Why Is it Important to Know About Business?

Business Design: Why Is it Important to Know About Business? cover

During the recruitment and selection process, companies look for distinguished and complete professionals. Well, this is nothing new, right?

But for a Product Designer, what does it mean to be complete and unique?

Contrary to what you might think, being a distinguished design professional is not limited to using different software, making beautiful and complex designs, or even knowing how to program.

The UX Designer, as well as many other professionals, needs to understand business to be able to launch a successful product that will eventually bring good results for the company.

To consider Design as an area that is only creative and has no relation whatsoever with the company’s business is a thing of the past. Because of this, the concept of Business Design is growing and is increasingly in demand by companies.

Read on to understand what Business Design is and how it can help your career.

What is Business Design?

Business Design is the combination of two areas: Design and Business Management.

At a first glance, the name may sound like a position that deals entirely with numbers and spreadsheets. However, this is not true. Those who work as Business Designers still work with creation, but they must also have a deeper vision of business in order for their product/project to be successful.

Carl Fudge, one of IDEO‘s Business Designers, describes the position as follows:

“Business design focuses on making the business as beautiful as the design. Our clients are always making some sort of business decision. For example: Who would use it? How would we sell it? Would it make the client money? What makes this idea different from other solutions in this space?” – Carl Fudge – IDEO

David Schmidt, a partner at United Peers, puts some more definitions on Business Design:

  • It’s the application of Design methods and processes in the development and innovation of business models;
  • It’s creating and capturing value;
  • Transforms a value proposition into real business values;
  • It creates new value based on relationships.
Carl Fudge, business designer
Carl Fudge

The Business Design Process

Also according to David Schmidt, there is a systematic process involving Business Design. There are 3 steps that make up this process:

  1. Market Vision: understand who your competitors are, the elements that make them up, and their strengths. Business Design must translate this information, cross-referencing it with industry data, and establish assumptions;
  2. Business Model: develop a business model, evaluate and choose the best assumptions and data;
  3. Testing: put the model into practice, learn, correct, and repeat.

In short, Business Design is still a position that plays a part in the creation, research, and testing processes. However, it’s their responsibility to combine the art with the business part, enabling the product to the market and bringing results to the company and its customers.

However, this mentality should not be limited to the responsibility of just one person – whether a Business Designer or not – or a department. All professionals in the company, especially Product Designers, should have the business vision in mind to ensure the creation of profitable products/services that guarantee the company’s sustainability.

Reading Tip: Benchmarking: How To Conduct One?

Why Is Business Design Important?

The world and the market are increasingly competitive and dynamic. We can list several factors responsible for this, according to the VUCA concept:

  • Volatility: the dynamism and speed with which the world and the market change cause their own volatility;
  • Uncertainty: Rapid change causes uncertainty. There are many surprises, changes in direction, unpredictability, and one must be ready to combat each of these elements;
  • Complexity: Uncertainties bring complexity to the processes. Today it is natural to work with multidisciplinarity. The more the world changes, the more complex it becomes;
  • Ambiguity: complexity, in turn, creates a huge spectrum of opportunities. We no longer speak only of black and white, but also of various shades of gray between the two extremes.

Due to these factors, companies need a professional who can manage design projects, always keeping in mind the market and how it will act or react.

To this end, it’s essential for the Product Designer in general, not only those who occupy positions related to Business, to understand some Management concepts, at least in a broad way, such as

  • Business Models;
  • Marketing Strategies;
  • Cost, expenses, and prices;
  • Market trends.

Of course, all this without losing focus on the experience and the user, which are the protagonists of every UX Design project.

Business Design Benefits

Combining the concepts of Design with the concepts of Business brings some important benefits to companies, such as:

  • Problem-solving with ease: understanding the volatility of the market makes us have resolutions that are also volatile. Each different problem must be faced with a different solution. Business Design brings this creativity as it understands the client’s needs, perceives new opportunities, and is attentive to innovations;
  • Constant learning: Business Design breaks the paradigm of fear of taking risks. From the moment this fear is lost, it opens the way for new opportunities and new innovative ideas. The main point is to take risks, make mistakes, learn, and adjust;
  • Multidisciplinarity: the fusion of several areas and disciplines brings complementarity and new perspectives. A company is not formed by isolated areas, but by areas that communicate and interact. The better the integration of disciplines, the better the range of opportunities to solve problems.
  • Focus on results: the teams, as a whole, have the same objective of generating financial and sustainable results for the company.

Reading Tip: UX Design: Science Or Art?

An advantage in the resume

Business Design does not only bring improvements to companies. The professional who has this global vision of processes is well regarded by recruiters and companies “fight” for them.

It’s no wonder that one of the Insights of the 2019 Product Design Hiring Report was precisely the question of the unique background sought by companies. Most managers look favorably upon Design professionals who have experience in other areas or who have knowledge other than that of Design.

MID student Fábia Coelho attributes her empathy in applying user tests to her previous experience in customer service.

“Also, all experience is valid for the other roles you perform. For example, I spend a lot of time working with customer service, which today helps me with communication and empathy when it comes to applying user tests.” – Fábia Coelho

Chart based on data from InVision’s 2019 Product Design Hiring Report

How can I improve my business acumen?

Now that it is clear how important it is to know about business, even for you who will not act as a Business Designer, the question remains: how can I improve my business acumen?

Perhaps the most automatic answer to this question is to look for a course related to the topic. However, you will not necessarily find a course under the name of Business Design. You will have to search for those that have a vision focused on business strategy.

There are courses that can be very interesting to add to the business vision or to stimulate the creation of new processes – such as Design Thinking and Storytelling.

However, there are other ways to acquire this mindset desired by the market, such as:

  • books – always a good option for learning;
  • participation in lectures and UX Design events;
  • networking and contact with the community to exchange experiences.

As a matter of fact, our Mentor Felipe Melo has already given tips on important books to increase the knowledge of UX Designers. And the most amazing thing is that most of his recommendations are books about business – such as Business Model Innovation and Blue Ocean Strategy.

“A business model describes the rationale of how an organisation creates, delivers and captures value” – Business Model Generation book

Reading Tip: Outcomes And Outputs: Know The Difference

Soft Skills are also important

Besides technical learning in Business, it’s also important to learn different skills that are important in any profession.

The so-called Soft Skills are considered essential behavioral skills for any professional:

  • Good communication;
  • Empathy
  • Leadership;
  • Knowing how to give feedback.

Above are just some of the important Soft Skills for you to develop.

The 2019 Product Design Hiring Report also reported on the importance Soft Skills make in hiring professionals.

Table based on data from InVision’s 2019 Product Design Hiring Report

Reading Tip: Pivoting Your Career: What Is UX Design?

Product Design is gaining more and more substance and importance. And it should no longer be seen as a solely creative profession. It must have a strategic and business bias to bring tangible results to companies.

Therefore, to stand out as a distinguished professional in the UX market this business mindset must be part of your skill set.

And no matter the source of the knowledge, the important thing is not to stop learning whether it’s through courses, books, or articles if you want to grow as a product designer you need to stay on top of market trends and directions as a whole.

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