What do you think is the best way to measure design’s impact?

The Daily Mail website has won the Design Business Association’s Design Effectiveness Grand Prix based on its annual revenues and growth in visitor numbers. What do you think is the best way to measure or assess design’s impact?

Paul Bailey

‘Design awards are often accused of being subjective and elitist which is why the design effectiveness awards’ use of metrics was welcomed. However, measuring effectiveness brings its own problems such as the assumption of causality. Simply put, are the changes in what is being measured, increases in revenue and users, solely caused by what is being assessed, the design? Design is important and has a great deal of influence and impact, but it is always part of a wider business and brand strategy, is dependent on content and is always affected by societal, cultural and economic developments. It is inextricably entangled with the wider strategy and environment and so to try to separate it and measure its individual impact is difficult (if not impossible).The question of how to quantitively measure a qualitative process, where design is supporting the content (e.g. Daily Mail website), will rumble on and on.’

Paul Bailey, partner, 1977 Design

Tom Actman

‘I was quite vocal last week on Twitter about the Daily Mail’s website design effectiveness award, pointing out that design effectiveness and good design are two very different things. People argued back about it not being that black and white. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. We can’t know the amount of money the Daily Mail spent on advertising or know for sure whether the website design was the sole reason for the increase in revenue or growth. Maybe they just wrote a few more bigoted articles. Does the design quality of the Moonpig logo or website matter? Arguably not. Are they effective at reaching their audience? Obvs. So does their identity matter? Probably not. It does what it needs to do. Regardless of business or sector, the best way to measure the impact of design is to count the number of new phone calls, footfall or extra cash in the till. People vote with their feet. The Daily Mail’s website design isn’t great, but it’s effective. Apparently.’

Tom Actman, co founder, Mat Dolphin

John Spencer

‘DBA Design Effectiveness Awards are a ‘return on investment’ measure of design’s impact. They’re a number-cruncher’s view of the graphics world. I’ve done a lot of work that’s helped boost revenue and visitor numbers, but the real joy for me is seeing design connect with people’s emotions. A Barabaig tribesman from Tanzania, whose land and way of life are under threat, said of my Survival “handprints” logo, “Every time I see those big fingers, I feel happy”. A “coherent, well-thought-out and professionally executed design strategy” would be neither here nor there to him.’

John Spencer, founder, Off the Top of My Head, and co-founder and creative consultant, Spencer du Bois

 Jen McAleer

‘It’s crucial to be always conscious that design is a business tool and therefore it must prove itself against strategic, business and marketing objectives. What needs to happen is for client and agency to set clear, measurable success criteria for all projects right at the start, and where possible, invest in ways for the design to be measured against these criteria. Design has to be evaluated in its commercial world, against the performance of its market, for us to get a complete picture of its success.’

Jen McAleer, managing director, StartJG

Liz Dunning

‘One of my business partners told me a post holiday story that his father paid £10 every day poolside in Sharm El Sheikh to have a copy of the Daily Mail and I also remember reading in The Economist what a high proportion of the publication’s subscribers live abroad. So it comes as no surprise how important design is to this online offer and how important it is to deliver content in an easily recognisable and digestible way. We Brits like our smut and measuring the success of this website on how it delivers on that appetite by how many readers it attracts, satisfies and retains seems completely appropriate.’

Liz Dunning, partner, Dunning Penney Jones

Simon Rose

‘The DBA awarding the Daily Mail is a great case study for online publishing. But it raises obvious questions over the role the design played in that commercial success – questions which continue to frustrate agencies and clients alike. It’s vital for both parties that we can demonstrate where we add value. But you obviously can’t apply the same metrics or assessment criteria in measuring the results of a new packaging range against a rebrand for a business, for example. The former yields tangible results based on sales. The latter is an investment which can take years to see a return on – and whose success depends on countless factors beyond the control of the design agency involvement. So there is still a vital education required – within our own industry, as much as for our clients – to clarify the value good design can add to business, particularly given that selling ideas or innovation doesn’t always have an immediately positive effect on the bottom line of a client business.’

Simon Elliott, creative partner, Rose


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