Awards on the wall, or money in the bank?


I had lunch earlier this week with a friend who runs a successful user experience (UX) design firm. They do great design work, but more importantly they root that design in cross-platform experience architecture that drives performance and results.

Not everyone appreciates this approach. Some clients prefer the exciting, sexy design first. But that’s not how it works (not if you want to drive performance and results, anyway).

Great design is nice, but design alone isn’t going to put money in your pocket. Great design performs when it’s laid on top of a well-thought out and executed plan that takes into consideration who your customers is, what they need, and how best to help them engage and/or buy.

Plenty of talented designers (and ad agencies) focus on the sexy first. They want to create art, and put awards on their walls to validate their artistic skills and leadership.

High-performance design starts with boring. In digital formats, it starts with wireframes. Processes. Lots of research and thinking and experience that translates into a user experience. Yes, that experience finishes with design. But design is at the end of the process, not the beginning.

This doesn’t make for the most exciting process. It’s way more fun to look at great design options than to dig into wireframes.

But if you do it right, you get to do both. Just do them in the right order.