The Importance Of Brands Adopting A Design Philosophy To Drive Fluidity For Customer Engagement

Brands are waking up to the reality of providing the best design templates for their apps, websites, and other online tools, to improve customer engagement and the end-user experience.

We have arrived at a juncture in industry 4.0, where design has become essential for driving a brand's success. It is enjoying the undivided attention of the businesses qua industry, as they realize its significance in drawing users onto an app. The emphasis is now ongoing digital expansion and acquiring customer loyalty through well-crafted design solutions. Brands are waking up to the reality of providing the best design templates for their apps, websites, and other online tools, to improve customer engagement and the end-user experience.

However, the trend of infusing sleek design elements to attract potential customers is a relatively new ruse adopted by brands. For a long time, tech entrepreneurs focused on getting the business and product development on track first until Steve Jobs came by. He introduced the latest range of Apple products that set out a new way of looking at product design. Up until then, design was considered a post facto graphic representation and an arts-related domain, with minimal interaction or interface with a prospective buyer. He shifted this focus towards the consumer or an actual user, changing the business landscape bringing aesthetics in hardware and software design. 

‘Design First’ approach

There are many promising start-ups in the industry but only a handful of them end up making the cut as a Unicorn. There are, however, hundreds of emerging businesses that have created a niche for themselves in the digital arena, by merely taking to the ‘Design First’ approach. The world is currently witnessing a smartphone revolution, where the ecosystem for mobile applications has exploded keeping pace with the advancements in technology.

 India is leading the world stage on many fronts, due to a meteoric increase in internet penetration, internet usage, and a record number of smartphone sales. At present, the country is home to noteworthy startups that have achieved a unicorn status. Some of them have built unique applications disrupting the status quo through its focus on design thinking. These brands understand the importance of this cost while adopting an appropriate design philosophy. The traditional approach would have involved product development and testing as a precursor to an actual design and related improvements done after receiving feedback from the market.  

Importance of understanding design nuances

By investing resources into an app’s interface design and conducting research about consumer choices before the product development phases, firms are likely to incur lesser costs. Additionally, the new age Indian consumer spends an average of 5 hours a day on his/her mobile device, with several apps and influencers on social media platforms taking away a bigger chunk of this pie in terms of time spent. It indicates that nuanced design features and strategies are required to retain customers for longer durations.  

As a design studio, we have catered to several marquee clients that include emerging social media apps, food delivery, and e-commerce platforms such as Fun2, Swiggy, and Myntra, respectively. It is a blessing in disguise that the new generation of entrepreneurs not only understand design but also believe in its power to bring about this transformation.

For instance, our association with an emerging video sharing and social media company Fun2 has been a dream come true. Fun's co-founders wanted to get their app’s design right, even before developing their product. They came prepared with a plan on defining how they wish to integrate various design elements into their app. Consequently, their management’s progressive mindset and worldview helped us streamline the interfaces and user experiences. The philosophy they adopted for Fun2’s logo and the quirkiness is a reflection of their mindset. It symbolizes the frame that appears while shooting a video, and represents a gateway that allows for equal opportunities to aspiring content creators. A one stage for all as they would always say.

Fun2 is among our select set of clients who demonstrated this desire and the clarity of thought on how they want to position themselves in the market. Their goal has been to appeal to the target market segment through a design focus and an intuitive interface. Moreover, their team valued the suggestions of our team without hesitation, at the same time retaining user-experience as priority above all else. This reflects how clients are embracing this philosophy.

Research Driven Design Solutions

The research-driven design perspective tries to understand the product utility, based on the preferences of users, by delving into psychological, emotional, and practical aspects. Perfecting an app’s design requires efforts that go beyond working on design software. By the start of the decade, aesthetics, user- friendliness, and artistic interfaces had become the norm for app-design. Consequently, a country like India needed solutions that could match up with the average levels of digital literacy. Simple yet agile interfaces that can help customers and clients move away from traditional methods to digital applications are the need of the hour. 

Designers have been quick to meet with actual users from different segments of our society to understand the complexities they face in using technology effectively. It allowed the designer to apply the data and insights from research and bring them to the drawing board. For instance, a social media app like Fun2 would require a quirky design theme and tools that cater to talented micro-influencers and subscribers to garner the millions of downloads within a short period of time. By looking at data collected over the years, patterns on user preferences are recorded, allowing brands to integrate human-centered design innovations. 

 Fortunately, startups have always been the disruptors often creating trends. This stands true even in the case of research-driven design thinking. Traditional brands followed suit only after being reticent for many years. The meteoric rise of FinTech and EdTech startups have convinced them about its relevance as seen in the industry. Further to this, the current COVID-19 situation has made both traditional businesses and startups realize the potential of digital platforms in retention of customers. They have recognized that deploying talented UI/UX design specialists for creating an interactive app can help brands reinvent themselves. As users stayed home for more than six months, many became aware of the aggressive competition in their ecosystem and consequences of not taking to design and ergonomics for the digital world.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.