Don’t Let Data Driven Design Go To The Dogs

by Kevin Murphy
Director of Digital Strategy

Every few years there is a new study claiming that putting a dog on a wine label or beer label results in new customer sales anywhere from 4% to 11% over the dogless competition. But do we really need more dogs on labels?  Are there other ways to use data and keep a designer’s integrity intact?

Here are five tricks to incorporate data into the design process without sacrificing innovation and going beyond the usual A/B Testing, heat maps, focus groups and what the industry tells us to do.

  1. Use data to identify problems in previous models. Depending on what you’re designing focus on the data to find problems with usability, performance, and bottlenecks. Data can often find issues that individual observation or feedback would never see.
  2. Look at new views and angles. Civil engineers and architects are starting to look at Instagram data to see how bridges are photographed and then use this information to help plan how a bridge is angled, where to place pedestrian view points and even what it looks like from underneath the span.
  3. Go outside your industry for inspiration. Just as designers find inspiration all over. Data from outside the industry can lead to new innovations. Parking meters are notoriously hard to use, with no common design language, but usability data from ATMs is being used to help make meters more approachable and consistent worldwide.
  4. Look at data for the context. Go beyond the traditional data of how people are interacting with your design and look at the context. The first company to put a flashlight app on a phone did it because the data showed that people were using the light from their phone screens to help see keyholes and read menus.
  5. Ask a data analyst for help. Odds are there is someone who is studying the data and knows every nuance and secret story it has to tell. Odds are, they spend most of their time creating PowerPoint reports and would love to dive in and help a designer apply data to a new project.

For more ideas, join CMD and Design Week Portland’s panel on Designing with Data. It’s sold out, but will be webcast live on Thursday, April 19 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific on our Facebook page.

Photo by Calvin Chin