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How to commission a designer: Step 6 - Measure your success

How to commission a designer: Step 6 - Measure your success

1 May 2015

A six-part guide featuring practical tips, advice and checklists for businesses investing in design.

Design could be one of the best investments you ever make. But how do you get that investment right? How do you choose the right designer at the right price? How will the designer get to grips with the complexities of your business? How can you communicate what you want when you’re not quite sure yourself? How will you manage a designer and how will you assess whether what you get is ‘good’ design or not?

These are questions businesses ask all the time about using design. This guide aims to help you answer them.

Step 6: Measure your success

The clearer the objectives in your brief, the easier it will be to measure the value of your design investment. If you get the increased take-up you wanted from your website, or if you reduce time to market through your new production process, then you know your investment has delivered.

Some projects are more difficult to gauge. How will you know when your corporate rebranding has succeeded? Or how can you be sure workplace culture has improved because of your office redesign? But even here it should be possible to agree some quantifiable measure so you can plot the project’s effect on your business.

Some measures will be no different to ones you would use for any project. Did you meet the ultimate project deadline and the various deadlines you set in the project plan? If not, why not? Did you reach key milestones when you expected to reach them? Did you go over budget and, if you did, why did it happen? Did the project change? Did sign-off take longer than planned? Were there hidden charges you weren’t expecting? Analysing the reasons for any mishaps will provide valuable learning for your next design project.

If this was your first design project, make sure you monitor its effects on internal relations or working practices. Taking on board new ways of thinking and working may have many unforeseen results beyond the measures of success set out in the brief. Decision making may become more effective, relationships among the team may alter and procedures for working with suppliers may improve.

Measure your success checklist:

Project delivery measures

  • Timing
  • Cost
  • Quality

Market measures

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Market share
  • Brand awareness
  • Differentiation

Company measures

  • Increased sales/profit
  • Reduced cost
  • New markets
  • New knowledge or skills
  • Improved processes
  • Improved staff morale and productivity

What have we learned?

  • Did we solve the issue we wanted to?
  • Can we see the value of our design spend?
  • Have we learnt from the project?

Helpful links:

  • Design Business Association (DBA): A UK membership organisation for designers and other businesses. It runs an annual award scheme recognising projects with bottom line impact. Services include advice on choosing designers, managing projects, legal matters and other issues. The website includes case studies and a directory of designers.
  • British Industrial Design Association (BIDA): A membership organisation for designers and educators. Its website includes a directory of designers searchable by agency sector, location and size.
  • Chartered Society of Designers (CSD): The world’s largest chartered body of professional designers. Services include client matching.

The Design Council offers support programmes to help organisations get the most value out of design. Learn more about our work here.

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Download a PDF of this guide that includes case studies and more tips and information.

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