The ROI of Good Design

The ROI of Good Design


4 minute read

Good design may not be everything, but it’s still something that should permeate every aspect of your brand. These days, audiences expect more; good design isn’t a luxury, it’s a given and it’s the first thing that makes you stand out from the rest. Smart leaders see it as an investment, keeping it in mind and on paper even in the earliest stages of business planning. Others wait to learn the hard way just how important it really is.

Design advocacy organizations around the world like the UK’s Design Council, the Finnish Design Business Association and the international Design Management Institute have spent years on studies and research to prove design’s various benefits and to develop tools that quantifiably measure its positive effect on sales, profits, market growth and valuation. Putting a price tag on creative processes is no easy feat, but devotees know that they’re right about the importance of design.

Good design means good business, period.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, these points should get you nodding yes, and thinking about design in a new way.


When something looks good, people notice. And when something looks bad, well, they notice that, too. Make sure you give them something to remember, and for the right reasons. People will define your brand by what they see, so make sure they like whatever that is. Whatever your market, chances are it’s rife with competition. Good design sets you apart and gets you noticed. Take Apple, for instance. A black silhouette against a pop of bright color will forever be associated with the brand and its iPod. Sometimes the most striking solution is surprisingly simple.

Apple Ipod


Make it count, because you only get one. Good design reads as relevant and professional and helps build trust. According to Lance Loveday and Sandra Niehaus, authors of Web Design for ROI, when opening up a website, people tend to make a decision regarding an organization’s credibility in as little as 1/20 of a second – and that judgment of credibility is based on design. If it lacks focus, clarity and ease-of-use, it’s sure to deter potential customers.

LinkedIn Sign In Page

LinkedIn is a great example of a company homepage that projects confidence and a direct call-to-action while showcasing its value as “the world’s largest professional network.” Registration couldn’t be easier, too. The result? The network, which launched in May 2003, has 277 million reported users (as of February 2014), with two new members signing up every second.


Too often, companies see design as an expense, instead of an investment. Like good content marketing, good design is strategic, engaging, functional and influential. It unifies the brand, clarifies your message and tells your story. At its best, good design is always evolving to meet the needs of its audience.

Nike’s website shows us how with a sleek look and updated categories for improved usability. Online shoppers need no longer search based on gender and item alone; the brand recognized that many fans identify themselves as athletes first and in turn, designed an inspired solution allowing product search by sport.

Nike's Website

Above all, design should be clear and memorable, directing people to your goals in the user-friendliest of ways. It’s what keeps people engaged, clicking, scrolling – and buying. Not something to skimp on, now is it?


Sometimes, the proof really is in the pudding., for example, is due for a redesign this year. It’s only been about five years since their last online makeover, which ESPN Digital Media revealed came after learning through focus groups that “their home page was too cluttered, too difficult to navigate and had far too much going on.” By listening to their audience and responding accordingly, the redesign garnered a 35% increase in site revenues. 35%. It’s no wonder they’re eager to see what the next round will bring.

Still, some skeptics crave a set ROI, a clear picture of exactly what they’re getting for what they’re putting out, and that’s not always available. Why? Proving quantifiable efficiency means separating design from all other business-driving elements, which it’s usually linked with from the get-go.

Nevertheless, champions of design continue to find examples that illustrate its benefits. Findings from the Design Council report that “shares in companies where design plays a critical role consistently outperform key stock market indicators by 200%,” and that “for every $130 spent on design, design-alert businesses realized a $298 return.” Slowly but surely, the numbers are adding up.

While pinpointing metrics continues to be a challenge, it shouldn’t be too hard to recall some of these points the next time you’re faced with a nonbeliever.

By Anastasia Dyakovskaya, NewsCred Contributor