Data Driven Design

Design is a very contentious area. Designers (myself included) tend to be a sensitive bunch, and when we have created something cool, we want everyone to love it.

What happens when people don’t love it? What happens when the design fails? Both of these things are inevitable in the career of a designer.

While the seemingly easy thing to do is to look at what other sites are doing, and create your own spin on that (looking at you, everyone that’s said “Amazon does it, why can’t we?”), that’s a slippery slope.

How do you know how that thing is performing well for that brand? How do you know that they’re not preparing a change or testing something new? Why did they make the decision to have something working or looking that way?

All questions that designers need to ask when they’re preparing to design something or redesign something, with the overarching question being:

“What is the problem we are trying to address with this design?”

To identify problems, designers need to look at the data, or at least an analysis of the data that shows what the issues are. This should always be the jumping off point for design decisions.

What are customers saying? What are conversion rates indicating? Where is drop off happening in the processes that the customer is doing? What does the customer want to do?

Pull funnels, look at metrics, do A/B tests. Even if you just don’t like the way something looks, you need to know the impact that your changes will have  on the customer experience and company’s bottom line.