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There are all kinds of clients. I think everyone has been challenged  by clients that don’t put much value in design, or worse, misunderstand what design is. Design is not about making something “elegant”. It’s about making things that fit expectations, are easy to use, and meet the goals of the maker.

Most people managing an organization are not designers so it’s important to speak in their language when explaining how your design is going to help them. They tend to care about three things more than anything else, what marketing calls the “Three As”;

  1. Acquisition: Someone seriously considers your offer
  2. Activation: Someone makes a purchase
  3. Activity: Customers make subsequent purchases

This doesn’t only apply to profit-seeking efforts. For example if you’re running a charity you could be looking to:

  1. Acquire donors via a newsletter signup;
  2. Develop newsletters to get cash donations and;
  3. Encourage reoccurring donations.

Design works to improve results. In a recent study of over $1 trillion worth of IT project spending (which includes web sites, mobile software, etc)  it was found 15% were abandoned due to poor design, and that half of the effort was typically spent reworking poor design. It was also found that fixing a problem after a project is completed costs 100x what it costs to design better to begin with. Not only is there a case for design improving the “Three As”, but also reducing wasted effort, which could be better allocated elsewhere.

There are many ways to measure the return on investing in better design in communications. When someone asks why they should pay for your design, explain how it will impact the following;

  • Easier sales, signups, registrations
  • Fewer abandonments
  • Fewer calls to support staff
  • Reduce training required for users or organization staff
  • More usage, sales, etc
  • Save time for users (faster checkout, instant registration) or save time developing (CMS)
  • Reduce errors