Welcome to the latest issue of the Designers in Business Newsletter 👋
There’s been a steady stream of new subscribers - welcome aboard!
After just one issue we’re nearly at 150 members. A modest count, but it’s encouraging to see so many designers share an interest in better understanding the world of business.
Finally, if you find any of the content curated in these newsletters helpful, feel free to let the creators know. It’s their generosity and knowledge helping us gain confidence in business together.
Tom Prior Curator of Designers in Business
Subscriptions have rapidly become the way we pay for all kinds of products and services. From TV to food recipe boxes, these businesses are increasingly revered for the flexibility they offer over traditional purchasing models.
Many designers use subscription Software as a Service (SaaS) tools daily for work. Products like Figma, Slack and Notion generate revenue through recurring subscriptions rather than one-off purchases.
This month we’ll dive into these increasingly popular business models, and learn how it’s not just digital services moving towards this flexible (and potentially more sustainable) world of subscriptions.
A poster-child for SaaS success, Stripe is a global payments gateway used by millions of businesses worldwide.
Stripe’s long-read guide to the business of SaaS is an excellent primer. It outlines the core business concepts, pricing options, and demystifies important SaaS business metrics.
It also covers an important strategy decision; whether to run a low-touch or high-touch sales model. This decision has big implications for design teams responsible for product marketing and on-boarding experiences.
When we discuss subscription models, it’s common to think in terms of software and digital services. But it’s not just digital-native businesses that are moving in this direction - physical products and in-person services are exploring these business models too.
This excellent interview with subscription business expert Robbie Kellman Baxter (author of The Forever Transaction) explores how even the most traditional of businesses can transition to a recurring payment model.
Subscription business models link into a wider concept we’ll explore more deeply in future newsletters, called the Circular Economy.
According to the Ellen McCather Foundation, “a circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems”.
As designers we’ll have a crucial role to play in circular economies, designing the systems to manage requests, returns, and servicing throughout the extended lifecycle of a leased product.
In this article, Intercom’s co-founder breaks down how businesses can establish their revenue model from three pricing strategies: transactional, enterprise and self-service.
We’re starting this month’s influence section by sharing a fantastic guide for anyone looking to communicate the business case for great content design.
Whether you need to explain the discipline’s roles to non-designers or break down how content design can generate or save money, this brilliantly curated guide from Content Design London has you covered.
🎥 Video (captioned): The Life of a Changemaker: Lessons From the Battlefield Talk by Maria Giudice, Design Leadership Coach & Founder of Hot Studio at IxDA 2019
The competitive advantage of design is being realised by more businesses than ever. Design leaders are finding executive presence a realistic prospect. But having a seat at the table is only the start of the challenge for designers in many large organisations.
Maria explains how she found success through executive sponsorship, aligning design work to business goals, and making her team’s work visible beyond the design studio.
Helping designers have more business influence is one of the aims of this newsletter. But what if becoming more business-centric begins to cloud our judgement as designers?
In this critical look at the impact of Silicon Valley business models on user-centred design, Jesse‘s warns that “bad things happen as we stop solving people problems and start solving business problems”.
📝 Article: 20 Levers for Communicating the Business Impact of Design By Enrique Allen, co-founder of Designer Fund
Divided into four quadrants - saving money, making money, direct impact and indirect impact - this canvas helps map the business areas where design can maximise its value.
The article opens with examples of familiar (and often frustrating) conversations between design teams and their wider business. These set the scene nicely, starting with a common challenge for teams of scale - justifying the cost to build your first design system.
A new section appearing this month, ‘The Design Business’ is a slightly meta topic. Here we’ll look at the business of… running a design business.
From agencies to independent contractors, we’ll shine a light on running a design consultancy, and how to communicate our value to potential clients.
Discussing his experience gaining the business skills needed to succeed as a design contractor, Jared covers important considerations for those running a freelance consultancy: marketing, time management, and pricing strategy.
That’s it for another month, but issue 3 is already starting to take shape.
Next time we’ll be exploring the future of business models, diving deeper into the circular economy and the opportunities it will afford designers.
We’ll also cover more competitor analysis frameworks, and start demystifying some common (but often confusing) business terminology.
See you in September!