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How Design Principles can benefit even the smallest business

14. June 2024 | UX Strategy

Reading time: 5 minutes

The glamorous start-up / small business life: limited time, resources, and a few people wearing many hats, all needing attention immediately. In this scenario, becoming responsible for business areas outside one’s expertise is common. Anyone who has been in this situation knows of the multitude of decisions that need making daily. When making decisions in company roles you are not accustomed to – decisions and execution take up more time than they should (or would if an expert had the same assignment). At the same time, doubt constantly lingers over one’s head about whether the decisions are the right thing to do. If this bouquet of doubt, chronic time famine and dread sounds familiar, read how establishing design principles can help lift SO.MUCH. of this burden.

Hello, my name is Jennifer Moss. I co-founded The Geekettez and AUAU Athletics®, an apparel start-up producing protective athletic wear for female and gender-diverse athletes. My role in the company is that of head of communications and customer experience design. While my expertise lies within UX Design, which informs my responsibilities for the customer experience, it only marginally helps me with my communications tasks, especially as AUAU Athletics®, other than our UX Studio, is a B2C company.

I needed guidance and found it in our company’s Design Principles. To demonstrate their potential for any company, regardless of size, I am sharing three areas in which Design Principles helped the small start-up I am part of.

#1 Design Principles unify a business

Our team hosted several workshops during which we defined our core values. In these workshops, we found our Design Principles and explored their meaning, which helped us create a shared and deep understanding of our core values. Since then, they have informed most of our decisions in all business areas, from material sourcing and production to sponsoring and communication.

No matter what our team does or which problems we are trying to solve, we already have the answer to the principles the solution should embody. This limits our options in a good way. We can ignore the vast open sea of possibilities and steadily sail towards a goal we are all happy with and agree upon.

By creating shared understandings in teams, Design Principles help prevent repetitive discussions and decision paralysis. This benefits every team, especially those busy building innovative and new services, products, and narratives. Design Principles enable teams to agree upon the general route and function as their north star, so all they need to do is set sail.

#2 Design Principles foster creativity

Since relying on Design Principles as our north star, our team feels that our products and ideas have become better and more achievable. The value-based thought structure we choose to follow functions as a mental corset. It stabilises the realm where we move while inviting us to explore every nook and cranny of the area.

This structure has helped us generate ideas more quickly and execute tasks more thoughtfully. Not only because every output is cross-checked and optimised until it is in line with our design principles but also because everyone on our team can give constructive feedback based on these principles – no matter their expertise. These outside inputs carry the ideas the extra mile.

Design Principles enable teams to think and interact within familiar structures. They can turn decisions into the work of a truly interdisciplinary team. When we can provide feedback based on set values, it does not matter if we are masters of the area. Our feedback or input might even suggest a solution that happens to be a bit off the beaten track that an expert in the area might not think of.

#3 Design Principles help sharpen your brand

Before working with Design Principles, many areas within our strategy were a wasteland, resulting in obtuse communication. Suppose your understanding of your brand or the communication around it is blurry. What do you think your customers feel like?

Design Principles helped us sharpen every aspect of our communication, bringing many benefits. The most obvious ones are that we always have stories to tell because the more we dive into the relevant topics, the more we find them. Another beneficial side effect has been decreased onboarding time for new team members.

Design Principles help create cohesive images of a business and brand, which are far more accessible for customers, partners, new team members, and collaborators to remember and understand. Businesses that show they are more than just their product line can tell more interesting stories.

Make your life easier – let us help you find your north star.

With Jennifer’s participation in AUAU Athletics®, we have experienced firsthand how design principles can streamline and declutter the daily tasks of even the smallest business.

If your business—no matter the size—is struggling with opposing power dynamics, strategic vision, or content creation, design principles might just be the solution you have been looking for.

Get in touch, and let’s get started!

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