Are you Communicating the Value of Design?

Paul Boag

As designers, we need to get better at demonstrating the value of design, even if that means making some assumptions.

Value of Design Transcript

You know I’m constantly amazed at how much organizations undervalue design, and I think part of the problem is that we as designers are really bad articulating the value of design.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. On… what was it last Saturday, myself, my parents and my son went out to Pizza Express to have a meal. Pizza Express, if you don’t know is a restaurant chain here in the UK and indeed around the world.

We had a lovely waitress but she was incredibly busy. The place was absolutely heaving. And when she did finally get to take our order I noticed that (she was taking my mum’s order) It took her a really long time to take the order on the little kind of iPhone app thing that she had.

So once she’d taken that first order and went to take the second order from my dad, I mentally counted how many seconds it took her, and I did the same for my son, and for myself.

I found on average she was taking about 10 seconds to input an order into this device. Now I could see the device, and to be honest the interface sucked.

It had obviously not been touched by a designer at all. It was obviously produced by a developer and, no disrespect to developers, they’re amazing what they do, but they’re not designers.

The organization obviously felt that it wasn’t worth investing the time in designing that interface properly. But if you’d explained it properly to them they would have seen that actually it was very much worth doing.

Let’s say I could shave what, three seconds, off of each order she took and let’s say that the average number of orders for a table were four people at a table.

All right. So that’s 12 seconds off of each table that she served. Right. Let’s say that the restaurant as a whole served what, a 100 tables a day. That seems about reasonable. So that’s 20 minutes.

Now I was sad enough to look up on Wikipedia how many restaurants Pizza Express has around the world and it’s 470 in the U.K. and 100 elsewhere.

So if we’ve got 20 minutes per day, that’s times 570, are 11400 minutes.

Now let’s say that the average restaurant opens for 360 days a year. That’s 69,350 hours. Right? That could be saved.

Now let’s presume pessimistically that they pay their staff the minimum wage here in the U.K. which is £8.21.

That’s 69,350 hours times £8.21 per hour which is £569,363 per year that could be saved by a designer looking at that interface. And then every year after that is £569,363 pure profit.

Now if we charge say £60,000 in order to to do that work and to update the app that’s almost a 10 fold increase in profits in the first year, and 100 per cent profit every year thereafter. And that’s not even counting the additional savings that could probably be made in training people or people getting the wrong orders and stuff like that.

Now obviously there is a heck of a lot of assumptions that I’ve just made. I guessed at a lot of those figures, like how much I could actually save time-wise or how many tables that are served in a day. But even so, it’s incredibly impressive.

Now what I would probably do if I was talking to a client, and going through that… I would probably take all those numbers and half them. Right. So I actually you would have half that final total.

But it’s still a big number and it still shows that design is worth investing in, even on an internal app that’s never customer-facing.

Stock Photos from Foxy burrow/Shutterstock