Sep 30, 2015

The Value of Design

Are we all blinded by the light?

Andrea Vorm Walde

Once again, the DMI NightOut has introduced us all to a brilliant speaker and gave us excellent food for thought: Alex Liebert, Strategic Design Leader at Atlas Copco, showed us various examples that outline the value of design within his company – and particularly interesting how to measure the value of design. For me, a fairly new yet crucial aspect – the same applies to his views on the importance of direct and indirect values …

Briefly: what is the main goal of a company? Is it bringing peace to the world or is it purely generating profit? In short: design may provoke many different things – it fosters visionary views, puts people into the center of attention, solves problems iteratively and promotes co-creation. That makes it a leading discipline that represents one of the most influential drivers of social change. Of course, design can also be a differentiating factor – quite simply put it may provide a greater economic success in a direct comparison of companies.


In this light, Alex Liebert asks a little provocatively the perfectly legitimate question: Are we all blinded by the light of the INDIRECT value of design?


Let us therefore turn once more to the direct values, and we are not talking about simply “attractive design”, but of functional, emotional and social values. These are aspects that provide the user with a clear added value making our product better and thus more successful.

Statistics show that the performance of design-centric companies, in contrast to those neglecting this discipline, has risen dramatically in the last 10 years. But how can the output of design be measured?


Amazing, the answer is actually quite simple: in comparison with other products, and in relation to cost and time we face the clear questions:

  • ‍How well does the product work (functional value)?
  • How good does the product feel to the user (emotional value)?
  • How does my environment perceive me when having this product? (social value)?

Crucial for the final result is user research, which also possesses to a higher-level role at Indeed: it is the insight “into the inner life of the user” that makes products at the end of the day successful because actual need states are identified and implemented in the design solution.

And so Alex Liebert outlined with various examples how clear wishes of the users behind their original statements – this valuable understanding led to a design that improved the final product. In a simple before-and-after comparison, the success was clearly measurable in figures – no matter whether it was about aspects such as productivity and cost savings, safety and comfort, or pride and confidence.


Conclusion: we must not only underline the indirect values and neglect the supposedly simpler ones – both aspects and are equally important!

So what to do?

  • ‍Measure the direct value and make use of these results
  • Go boldly beyond the limitations of disciplines
  • Take absolutely all stakeholders into account
  • Be always aware of two opposite vantage points

Only by considering a wide spectrum of facets a company will evolve to design leadership, and thus to values that design still keeps in store for the world and the economy. Because successful design

  • Inspires others to new visions and further actions
  • Is a driver of innovation
  • Initiates process optimization
  • Is a discipline that enables and empowers
  • Ensures more successful design
  • Bears responsibility
  • And, last but not least, changes the world!

All pictures © Alex Liebert, Atlas Copco

Andrea Vorm Walde

PR and Communications

Andrea takes care of our PR and likes to show how innovative and versatile Indeed is. Actually, she is responsible for the words - nevertheless, she usually leaves us here first because we as designers and developers want to report authentically in our blog. And that’s what we can do best ourselves.


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