Building design cultures by leveraging habit-forming technology

The iPhone recently celebrated its 11th birthday –since its arrival it has proved to be a game-changer as to how we, as users, consume and engage with technology and the world within it. Critical to its success lays with its design – the emphasis on being sleeker, sexier and more user-friendly than its competitors has rightly seen it earn its place as one of the most iconic and defining brands of the 21st century, but this isn’t the only thing driving engagement.

Built on the foundations of a design-led organisational culture Apple has been able to tap into the demands of its customers, to understand their behaviours and design a product to meet their demands. Increasingly, it is this understanding of habit-forming technology which will play a crucial role in unlocking the full capabilities of a design.

In the modern business world, the function of design within an organisation has never been more important. The biggest misconception that people have is that they still think of it as a department, but it's not, it’s actually a discipline of problem-solving. When carried out effectively design can increase sales, improve market position, generate greater customer loyalty and create a stronger identity for your business. It has the power to define the strategic roadmap of your business. Apple is arguably the posterchild for this.

While many might attribute Apple’s success to having access to the best processes or best designers in the world, the reality is that a core pillar lies in the culture of the business. It has often been said that good design needs to start at the top – that the CEO needs to care about design as much as the designers themselves. People often observe that Steve Jobs brought this culture to Apple. But the reason that culture works isn't because of a top-down mandate. It's an all-around mandate. Everyone cares, and increasingly within the modern business world, this emphasis on a design-led culture sits as the driving force behind the fortunes of most successful businesses.

So, for an organisation looking to leverage a design-led culture, how do you go about embedding this?

Creating an effective space for your design team will encourage innovation – in design one of the favourite sayings is ‘making mistakes doesn’t matter, it is how you learn from them’ – having an environment that encourages this means staff can push boundaries without fear of failure.

It’s also important to bring together the right skillsets. This includes ensuring that the right people are able identify and solve problems within key elements of the design process – critical to this will involve bridging multiple functions, including finance, legal, IT, marketing, and operations - so that these groups can not only be part of the process but also start to directly understand the value that design can deliver.

Additionally, it is also critical to support this with a process that will result in a greater solution outcome. The principles of discover, define, design, develop, still hold true to this, allowing you to discover client needs and then defining, designing and developing a course of action to satisfy them.

While these factors are integral in building and defining a design culture, increasingly there is also a need to understand the psychology of why people interact with products and technologies in the way that they do. Without this, there is a strong possibility that the solution will not deliver the behaviour change that is required in the user of the solution.

By leveraging known behavioural models and habit forming technology, it allows you to understand the psychology behind product engagement including the triggers, actions, rewards and the investment an individual makes within a product or service, and identifies the hooks which keeps people coming back. In doing so, it allows you to design more intuitive products, services and platforms that ultimately drive greater performance and engagement amongst those using it.