Design That Works

Good design works.

All too often, however, design fails the test of use.

Environments, products, and communications are generally designed for clients. Clients, in turn, use these designs to create customer experiences that are intended to contribute to their bottom lines in some ways. If designs fail to meet clients’ customers’ needs or expectations, bottom lines are negatively influenced.

Interestingly, designs that fail the test of use are frequently critically acclaimed.

Critical acclaim, while important as a general measure of professional standards of excellence, does not consider the test of customer use. Be it a trade show exhibit, retail store, automobile, or movie, “people’s choice” contributes more to the seller’s bottom line than critical acclaim. Thus, critical acclaim is not necessarily a measure of design workability. The Marketing Accountability Model (Marketing Accountability) affords a better measure of design workability.

The Marketing Accountability Model has been successfully applied to designing and evaluating environments and environmental communications. The model is applied as a design process or evaluation tool in much the same way that it is applied as a marketing tool when considering marketing accountability. Properly applied, the model shifts design focus from professional aesthetic standards to outcomes.