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How business in Vietnam are moving towards good design to gain user growth and profit.

Design is the art of the making the complex clear, the disordered ordered and the unusable usable.

As Thomas John Watson, Jr., the former CEO of IBM, once stated that

Good design is good business”.

Yep. Design thinking has its own place.

A great design that has the “wow” factor makes products more desirable and appealing to users. In recent years, “design thinking” has become popular in various industries as established companies are leaning on and investing in optimized design strategies to support their next phase of growth when noticing that design is an influential conversion tool turning strategies into tangible business results.

According to Adobe’s State of Create 2016 report, 59% client will decide to do business with a company over its competitors based on good design, and 45% have even paid more for a product or service with good design. Over the past 10 year, design-led companies such as AppleCoca-Cola, IBMNikeand P&G have outperformed the S&P 500 by an extraordinary 219%. Many companies and start-ups in Vietnam have also followed that trend and experienced initial successes.

First off, considering design and design thinking as an integral part of business success expects more than just curating creative assets. Successful design starts with an overall strategy that conveys messaging and usability to customers. This integration of all company’s aspects makes a good design an investment delivering sustainable values.

Basically, design thinking is understanding users’ needs and thinking creatively to solve their problems through products, services, and business design. It is the combination of techniques, such as Lean UX, customer journey mapping, and prototyping directly into the way the organization does business every day. It’s using the basic, proven tools of design to the maximum effect. A primary element of design thinking is simply thinking and ideating on a solution to resolve a problem or to better fulfill a customer need. It’s a mindset focused on solutions and not the problem. Design thinking offers a structured framework for understanding and pursuing innovation in ways that contribute to organic growth and add real value to your customers. Put it simply, it is all about putting yourself in users’ shoes.

From content to visual design, the strength of audience engagement is directly related to the strength of good design, as these efforts work to define a credible, trustworthy brand through consistencypredictabilityand visibilityUser-centered design begins with developing an understanding of customers’ or users’ unmet or unarticulated needs. The purpose of user-centered design is where you start from the people who are in need of a solution, and end when you come up with the suitable one. Design thinkers rely on customer insights gained from real-world experiments, not just historical data or market research. It is an empatheticstyle of design.

And if you don’t believe me, believe the statistics.

Take Shopee’s success as an example. After only a year of launching in Vietnam, the company has risen to become top 3 e-commerce company with the highest average number of orders. Up to now, Shopee has reached 5 million app downloads, and increased number of products by 133% (4 million products). Shopee’s current gross merchandise volume (GMV) has crossed the $3 billion mark and expected the double-digit growth in Vietnam the following year.

Shopee — the newcomer in Vietnam e-commerce market (source: ven.vn 2017)
Shopee is in top 3 e-commerce company (source: iprice 2018)

Part of their success is due to their devotion to user-centered design that ensures the needs of the users are at the core of their design process. They believe in creating the best possible experience for users and devote real efforts to design a product for millions of users.

In January 2018, the Design and Customer Experience (CX) teams brought together Designers, CX-ers, Marketers, Developers, Product Managers from Singapore and Taiwan at Shopee HQ to do fill the gap between product functionality and users’ experiences and cultures. The process helps spur innovation, encourage user-centric thinking, andalign teams under a shared vision to launch products faster. Participants from different functions (e.g. marketing, design) were grouped and introduced to each other before embarking on the day’s activities: to understand user behaviours, to re-frame pain points into opportunities, to establish design guidelines based on user needs and to translate ideas into physical mockups. The individual teams then shared their findings of user segments with the wider group. This stimulated common understanding of Shopee’s wide range of users between different stakeholders. Accordingly, they focused on framing a design that met diverse user groups’ needs.

How good design is helping business in Vietnam grow.
Shopee at work (source: Shopee desgin sprint)

The process of understanding users designing experiences building products might be complex and challenging, but good collaboration between cross functional teams is essential for a useful high-quality product. Design thinking is a tremendous approach for producing viable ideas for innovative development. When companies become design literate, they will employ design thinking to address problems such as improving team dynamics or coming up with a product line extension.

The Shopee case proves that only after organisations being exposed to benefits of design they can understand its value and reinvest in it. Design thinking should be at the core of strategy development and organizational change in order to create a culture that’s focused on this way of solving problems. This way of thinking can be applied to products, services, and processes; anything that needs to be improved. To be successful, a design thinking program must be closely linked with the organization’s social dynamics. Design begins with setting a strategic intention.

If you are mapping out a strategy, you are designing.