The 3 Values of Design

A guide for a better understanding of design from a value and business perspective.

Design outcomes — they are our world

Any human is capable of creating something, let’s call those creations a design outcome.
Those outcomes can be anything starting from a simple thought to change something. Anyone produces them.

various design outcomes

A design outcome influences its environment

Example how a design outcome influences its environment

Producing a design outcome is embraced by a before and after state

Why is understanding the implications of design not obvious?

The comparison to understanding foreign languages is quite fitting to understanding the implications of design.

Good luck with that!

Journey to artificial intelligence

Training neural networks

Setting for “intelligent” outcomes


The definition of starting

Using memory to yield better outcomes

With infinite resources: more = better

More of each → better outcome
Time for conscious manipulation

Design Value 1 — Usability

Usability describes how good something is at what it’s intended to do.
As a designer you design usable products,
by estimating the users capabilities and understanding the intended function to produce a tool that serves its purpose.
Usability describes the attribute of any object that is perceived to have a purpose.
Focused human interference in designing the relationship between the user, the medium and the purpose can impact the usability of an object, product or service.
I like to use the word “tool” which requires a situation of use to be a tool.

What can you achieve with usability?

The business model for Usability

As a designer

Business model of monetizing usability design

Design Value 2— Symbolism

As a designer you enforce symbolism,
by taking a thing and wrapping it in a new meaning and communicating these meanings. Symbolism happens passively with or without human interference. In our world we constantly alter the meaning of the things in our environment. Focused human interference can impact the symbolic meaning of an object.

Connecting the emotion freedom to the object car

Symbol comparison

A wine bottle is a volume made out of glass to contain fermented grape juice, sealed with a cork to prevent the liquid from reacting with oxygen in the air and losing its taste. It’s also an ancient technique to store liquids in glass and cork.

The impact of the same product with a different packaging design

The business model of symbolism

As a designer
you get paid for knowing how to craft a communication strategy that manipulates people into buying more, cancelling less, or similar. Because your client makes more revenue, he can pay you. You’re manipulating the way your clients/companies customers think, hijacking powerful needs and binding them to your clients/companies product.

Capturing new markets using symbolism
Gaining competitive advantage utilizing symbolism
Competitive scenario where symbolism is used to fight over customers

Design Value 3 — Entertainment

Entertainment describes the situation where physical sensoric stimulation triggers chemical compound releases that affect emotional state of the conscience of creatures.
We feel alive.
We feel: “This is worthwhile.”
We usually don’t actively think about wether we’re entertained or not.
We just leave the website, close the app, look away from the poster, stop to read, drift towards other thoughts.
We want to be entertained — to avoid confronting ourselves with what’s in us and maybe… find true happiness and what not. Better get entertained.

entertainment is all about perceived time

Perceived time is the currency of entertainment.

With our body we can’t sense time by analyzing half-time periods of identified isotope molecules in our environment.

Entertainment is the art of keeping us in the now and holding a dialogue. What value to a message if nobody listens more than 1 sentence?

same message
If a typeface doesn’t suit me for reading, it reduces the entertainment.

Entertainment of a landing page

Boring content — beautiful information design

Entertainment of nature

A look out of the window into the skyline of a city is just a 3-dimensional visual perspective of civilization and nature in a unique place and time. No human has designed it intentionally for you to have the whole thing look good in this exact moment and from this point.

The business model of entertainment

Wrap Up

For designers

Be clear on the goal, then derive which value of design supports its achievement. It will help you keep a clear mind to put effort on entertainment, symbolism, or usability – or a combination.
Cut away the slack and be honest with yourself why you are doing what you are doing with the altered (and hopefully improved) consciousness of the setting.

For design value beneficiaries

Think about which of the 3 design values you need. Think about how the skills of your professional counterpart will help you leverage their competence as a designer to provide you with these values and communicate clearly to what you need. When being confronted with concepts, proposals and results, use the 3 design values to explain why you feel certain aspects to a thought or work aren’t supporting the goal to utilize the 3 design values to achieve effective business outcomes.
Put your efforts on clear goals through the lenses of the 3 design values and measure the outcome.



Product strategist & designer with a 10 year background in design and entrepreneurship. 👉 Co-founder@AUCTA, creator@NucleusIcons 👉

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Daniel Seiler

Product strategist & designer with a 10 year background in design and entrepreneurship. 👉 Co-founder@AUCTA, creator@NucleusIcons 👉