Strategic planning is a crucial part of how a business achieves its goals. Specifically, a design strategy helps you align your product or service design to your business goals. 

Not sure what a design strategy is or how it works in practice? Don’t sweat it because we’ve got you covered. 

This guide will answer these questions about design strategy:

  • What is a design strategy?
  • Why is a design strategy important?
  • How do I create a design strategy?

What is a design strategy?

A design strategy is the meeting point between what your customers find valuable and what is profitable for your business. 

It contains guiding principles that allow you to create a solution that helps both you and your customers achieve your goals. A design strategy also enables you to figure out what to do next to drive your business forward.

In other words, a design strategy ensures that you continue to produce what your business needs to align your success with customers’ needs.

Why is a design strategy important?

Now that you know what a design strategy is, let’s break down the reasons you need one. 

It saves you money

Taking the time to create a design strategy allows you to clearly define who your target audience is and what they need. When you know that, you can create a product that they’re more likely to buy. 

Your product or service design won’t be a shot in the dark. Instead, you’ll have a product that’s backed by research, so you won’t waste money on a product that your customers don’t need. 

Offers direction

Having a clear goal empowers you to make strategic decisions that help drive your business in the right direction. 

A good design strategy will eliminate trivial decision-making surrounding your product and free up your time to solve the more creative problems.

Helps you prioritise

A clear design strategy makes it easier to determine and focus on the task that will create the most value for the majority of your customers. 

Having a strategy will help your business decide what move to make next to drive revenue and grow your business

The clarity you get from a strategy will empower you to be more effective in your decision-making process and help you gain a competitive advantage.

How do I create a design strategy?

As you get ready to create a design strategy for your small business, simply follow the steps below to get started. 

Step 1: Look at the big picture

The first thing you need to do is step back, look at the project as a whole and identify some measurable goals.

Try to pinpoint the problems your customers face. Then, make a list of all the challenges your business and solution can help solve. Also, take the time to define your target audience.

To learn more about this, check out: how to define your target audience in six steps.

Step 2: Find your competitive edge

Next, you want to determine where your goals and opportunities can place your business within the marketplace. Find what gives you a competitive advantage against other companies in your industry (your unique selling point). 

Analyse current market trends to determine the best way to sell your solution and business to attract your target audience to buy from you. 

You can find more information about this in the following guides:

Step 4: Assess your resources

Here, you’ll take inventory of available resources to your business. Determine how much you are able and willing to invest and what internal systems and procedures you need to bring your product or service to market.

Doing this will let you know if your design strategy is feasible and whether you need to make any adjustments to help you succeed. 

Step 3: Set quantifiable goals

This step is where you’ll begin to form the strategy that determines how the design will meet the challenges and opportunities you identified. 

You want to goals to be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant 
  • Time-bound

You also want to select some key performance indicators (KPIs). These are metrics you can use to figure out if your design strategy is working or not. 

For more information, see our KPI examples for different businesses.

Step 5: List your tactics

In this step, you’ll define how you’ll achieve the goals in the previous steps. Start thinking about things like:

  • Marketing
  • Brand identity and language
  • Operations, such as shipping process

You want to outline any building blocks and make sure they align with your overall business strategy as well. 

Step 6: Implement your strategy

Now, it’s time to get to work and start implementing your design strategy into your work. Establish your own best practices to ensure a successful outcome and refer to your KPIs and SMART goals to stay on track.

Make a note of which tactics work well and which don’t, and adjust your strategy if you need to.

As your product or service grows, remember to check back to ensure it still meets the needs of your industry and customers. 

Track your financial success with the Countingup app

As you incorporate your design strategy into your small business and draw in more sales, it’s important to organise your finances well. Modern accounting software like Countingup can help you keep up with it all. 

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It automates time-consuming bookkeeping tasks for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. 

Save yourself hours of accounting admin so you can focus on growing your business. 

Start your three-month free trial today