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It’s true, we are designers, we love to make things beautiful and make them easy to use. We will agonise over the fonts, colours, spacing and more. We can spend ages reviewing and refining a single button or a page. As a UX/UI Designer, I know that while we are designing for people we also are designing for businesses.

Designers are important people to any business especially those businesses who have to create products and use websites and apps to generate revenue.

The best example I can think of is Jonathan ‘Jony’ Ive. Apple’s’ Chief Design Officer. He oversees the Apple Industrial Design Group and also provides leadership and direction for Human Interface software teams across the company. Ive is the designer of many of Apple’s products, including the MacBook Pro, iMac, MacBook Air, Mac mini, iPod, iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini, Apple Watch and iOS. Now Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world with a market cap of over $550bn and it’s often one of the world most valuable companies. It’s undeniable that design was a massive part of their unique selling point. I’m not just saying it was down to the designer as we know Steve Jobs was at the helm of Apple leading the vision.

In the 1950s the print campaigns of Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) and Volkswagen decided to completely destroy the status quo for automobile ads with the “Think Small” campaign. Which helped them to generate more revenue when launched and became one of the most desirable cars of their time.

I’ve learned to never see my design work void of the greater business goals. The reason why is because I loved my design work so much and was stuck to looking at the fonts, the colours, the images and the layout. I mean I would obsess about pixels and if the text placement is out against my grid template in photoshop then It would frustrate me so much. Although I know as a designer it’s important to be good at what you do I believe that you need to learn as much as possible about every business you work with.

So I made a determined effort to grow myself even more in the areas I’m strong and where I’m weakest to seek the support necessary and learn along the way. What I chose to do some years ago is learn about business. I figured that the best thing for me to do was to actually become a practitioner and understand the difference between;

– Gross and net profit
– Sales
– Effective Marketing + Social Media Marketing
– Taxes
– Operations
– Increasing efficiency
– Revenue generation
– Business Strategy
– Providing value
And more….

It hit me after working with someone for 4 months unpaid (Stupid right!) that I was selling myself cheap and it was because I didn’t understand three things;
1. Value
2. Business Basics
3. How To Charge

1. The Importance of Value

 

Why is it that some people can charge £500 for web design but others can charge £200000+ for a website. I battled with this for ages and as I began to research and look into this, I realised that it was down to the value provided to customers. Customers recognise that if something is of a higher value then expectations will rise. At certain price brackets, you also begin to manage more risk when more money is involved. When customers pay more they are paying for the assurance that what you’re providing is of a higher standard and will deliver what was promised and manage the risks associated along the way.

Once I began to realise my value I began to focus myself on how I can provide the highest value to my clients. So I spent the time to keep educated (book, conferences, webinars, blogs etc) and having mentors who have grown big businesses around me. I seek to be a life long learner to become an expert in what I do and the more value I can provide for my clients the better it will be for them and for me also. So whether I’m sharing business strategies to grow revenue, applying UX design skills or designing an app in Sketch or Photoshop I’m always looking at the value I can provide to the business and the value the business is providing to its customer.

2. Business Basics.

 

There are four business Basics I know now are key to every business;
1. Value
2. Business operations
3. Marketing
4. People

Brendon Burchard breaks it down like this and I agree with his framework.

As I look at a business through this lens it is improving the way I do UX Design. Some years ago I remember working in a team where the communications manager would always speak to me about understanding the whole business more. At the time I didn’t get how to do it but now I know he was so right and I have a strategy that I apply when working with any business.

Now for many of you reading this you may think c’mon Laith that’s common sense. But the truth is that not everything that is common sense becomes common practice in business. I remember taking advice from people who said they understood business but then they couldn’t market themselves or their products they didn’t understand sales, couldn’t share business operation methods to increase productivity and didn’t understand how to provide more value to customers.

So I decided to become a practitioner and a life long learner. Always willing to improve and grow to become better at my craft while seeking to provide as much value to others along the way.

3. Learn How To Charge

 

How do you price your services? How much should you be paid for what you do? Are you charging too little to your clients?
These are big questions for many designers and particularly those who work for themselves. When it comes onto charging there are different ways you can look at this. Most designers are charging an hourly rate or a day rate and even a flat fee for their services. When it comes to charging for your services I have struggled in this area myself but I’ve found that it’s not as difficult as I thought. It comes back to my point on value. When you know what you are worth and the value that you are bringing to your clients then you charge based upon the value you can offer your clients. Think to yourself. If I’m able to solve problem (X), what would that be worth to my client? If I do charge (X) is this client in a position to afford my services? If they can’t afford (X) then I need to find the right clients for my services?

The key is to ask much better questions so that you can diagnose the problem your client, manager or stakeholder is having. Don’t prescribe solutions before you understand the problem. This is when you will know not just how much you should charge but what you are charging for.

A designer who can understand a business and business strategy as well as being a good designer is so much more valuable to any business. You can help a business grow and even look at better ways to improve their business model and not just a website or app. So I encourage more designers to take up the challenge and learn more about business. It will help you do your job better while designing those amazing websites and apps.

Great Books on Business to get you started:
Sam Walton — Made in America: http://amzn.to/2fygpbj
Simon Sinek — Know Your Why: http://amzn.to/2ewGIh6
#Ask Gary Vee One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness: http://amzn.to/2ewCINz
Business Model Generation: http://amzn.to/2deodgw

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Contact me for more information: hello@pixeloute.com

Laith Wallace

Author Laith Wallace

Laith Wallace is a UX Designer & Brand Strategist based in London, specialising in branding, web design and user experience (UX)

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