Why Bad Design can Cost your Business a Fortune

by Federica Filippi

Ever wondered why famous tech companies became so successful? For example Apple, Spotify, Google, Meta… all spend a lot of time and effort designing and constantly improving their product experiences. Behind our screens (not literally) there’s a wide team of researchers, UX designers, UI designers, Product Managers studying, exploring, analysing, and testing better ways for you to interact with their products. 


Because good design means happy customers, and happy customers mean good business. Developing a product takes time, effort, and money, and it’s tempting to rush through the design process in order to deliver it much faster, but skipping over a thorough design phase could end up costing you a fortune. Bad design can result in losing loyal customers, bad reviews, low conversion rate, and low revenue. Underestimating its importance will lead to missed opportunities.

"If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design." 

Dr. Ralf Speth

Design is often invisible when done well but very noticeable when done badly. Just think of an uncomfortable chair or an endless online checkout journey, would you proceed with the purchase? Probably not.

As tech consultants, we often face the challenge of having to ‘sell’ the importance of design, frequently seen as a nice-to-have, something expensive that can be done quicker by a non-designer, a second-tier that leads to some well put together products and services. Creating something delightful is a big part of our job of course, but there’s so much more to it. 

Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer - that designers are handed this box and told ‘Make it look good!’. That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

Steve Jobs

Product designers and organisations should embrace the business value of design too; how it can influence the success of the business, generate revenue, and increase customer loyalty and engagement. Let’s see how...

Good design… happier customers

Design plays a very important role in providing great experiences as it identifies the right patterns to use that people will find intuitive and engaging. Finding out what your customers need is an essential starting point in designing competitive products and services. The more you discover about your customers from market research and design-led user research, the more likely you are to design products they'll want to use. 

But there's more.

To maintain your customer's satisfaction and ensure business growth in the long run, you should also continue iterating solutions and learn from them. The recommended workflow is to test, refine and repeat as fast and often as possible. Organisations need to realise that a product is never done, technology and trends evolve rapidly and so are consumers' needs. The role of the designer and the wider team is to continuously learn from users' feedback, iterate and release again, each time improving its experience and interaction. Small changes can lead to big impacts.

​​“While design was once largely thought of as a way of making products more attractive, it is now a way of thinking: a creative process driven by the desire to better understand and meet consumer needs”

McKinsey report

Happy customers… healthier business

It’s simple: the easier and more exciting your product or service is, the more people will want to use it and recommend it to others, earning not only customers loyalty but new users too. It all leads to…more revenue for your business!

Products are made for people, and if people are not happy then your business will suffer. We mentioned how design is not only about the look but it primarily makes sure the service and product are user-friendly and add value to its audience. 

When an idea goes straight into development, then the focus goes on the technicality of the feature rather than understanding whether it brings value to its customers in the first place. Considering a feature's feasibility is also fundamental for sure, however, the last thing you’d want to do is to invest time, effort, and money building something that isn’t used by your customers because it doesn’t solve their problem or worse, they disliked it so much, they abandoned it.

A user-centered approach saves money, time, and effort. Early usability tests identify design aspects that cause mistakes. If not tested with real users, these problems might be ignored and lead to costly development work throughout a project at a later stage.

Great product and design teams spend time engaging with people, understanding and empathising with them in order to guide decisions on which solution maximises value. They keep the user at the centre of all decisions and iterate based on their feedback. That means using qualitative and quantitative data to gain insights and inform design solutions by exploring opportunities through ideation, prototyping, user testing, and turning complex challenges into simple solutions. It’s also important to understand that user-centric design is everyone’s responsibility, it’s more than a department, it’s a cross-functional talent.

So, if you’re planning to skip or rush design, then beware, that your product is not being given a proper opportunity to succeed, and your target audience could be choosing someone else’s service instead.

In conclusion, design is everywhere and it helps us navigate the digital and physical space. We’re surrounded by products, from the coffee maker you use after waking up in the morning, to the bed you sleep in at night. How is yours going to stand out? 

Curious to know how we helped a leading telecom company boost conversion rate after establishing a Human Centred Design approach to their ways of working? Then read here