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Designer or a business-minded designer – what's the difference?

The Data Handbook

How to use data to improve your customer journey and get better business outcomes in digital sales. Interviews, use cases, and deep-dives.

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Author avatar

Juuli Kiiskinen



Designers come in many forms; there are visual designers, UI Designers, UX Designer, Service Designers, Business Designers… and many, many other designers.

Despite the established titles, the boundaries of different designer roles are rarely set in stone – many designers work somewhere in between two or three roles. The common factor is that all designers work with some form of visual communication and hence, are too often more aesthetics than business-driven in a similar fashion as developers are too often more technology than business-driven.

In the context of business, aesthetics and technology exist only to serve the business. The further away one works from the core of the business, the more distant the business mindset often feels. And in all honesty, working only with other designers doesn’t exactly help in gaining more knowledge of the business as a whole.

A BUSINESS-MINDED designer has the ability to zoom in and zoom out

One of the most important factors of a business-minded designer is the ability to move between the “big picture” and the little details of design. Since designers usually are at a decent stage of mastering the art of designing, the focus in becoming a business-minded designer should be on understanding the bigger picture.

In practice, this means:
a) being interested in understanding the different levels of business – from strategic to tactical – and
b) interacting with teams outside of the design bubble, for example, sales.

The better a designer’s understanding is of the business as a whole (zoom out), the easier it gets to justify the design based on the correct drivers (zoom in). If the design work has strong business-minded reasoning behind it, things will progress quicker and more efficiently.

A BUSINESS-MINDED designer knows when polishing the design doesn’t bring more value

Designers take pride in pixel-perfect creations, but there comes a point when polishing designs stops being valuable for the business and becomes more self-satisfaction driven. It is challenging to draw the line to when a design becomes good enough. A great rule of thumb is to stop when answering the question, “Does investing time in this have a positive impact on the business?” becomes too difficult.

A BUSINESS-MINDED designer is more interested in the impact of the design than the actual design

  • A business-minded visual designer should focus on attracting customers – not on the number of likes from fellow designers on Dribbble.
  • A business-minded UX Designer should focus on helping users reach their goals – not on spending tons of time in micro animations.
  • A business-minded service designer should focus on creating value for customers – not on polishing the look of a user persona slide.

Naturally, there are some situations when it might be valuable to put more time and effort into, for example, outstanding micro animations. But before spending hours on hours working on tiny details, a designer should ask themself: am I spending time on this for the sake of business results or for the prestige of my portfolio?

When you start questioning whether the project you’re investing your time into really serves business goals, you can start calling yourself a business-minded designer.

Did you get inspired and eager to polish yourself as a designer towards becoming more business-minded? Or do you already consider yourself to be a business-minded designer? At Columbia Road we can offer you an environment that allows business-minded designers to thrive as professionals and to deepen your expertise with like-minded nice colleagues. Take a peek at our open designer positions!

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The Data Handbook

How to use data to improve your customer journey and get better business outcomes in digital sales. Interviews, use cases, and deep-dives.

Get the book