A pitch for design thinking and good looking content

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Whether you work in accounting, finance or digital media, chances are you’ve heard the term ‘Design Thinking’ being thrown around at some point.

Design thinking refers to a set of guidelines or principles used in idea generation and conceptualisation. Design thinking has been the feature of massive online debate over the last two years, with articles highlighting the potential of this new application in creative thinking to those who discredit the philosophy. The main issue here is that people misinterpret the concept. It is not an argument between the left and right brain or “crayons vs. calculators”; it is a collaboration. Have you heard the term “two heads are better than one”? Well in this case, it is exactly that.

Combining the analytical mind with the creative is an important strategy in online marketing. One cannot succeed without the other. Individuality in creative content design is one of the most sought after tools in the fast growing world of online marketing.

Design thinking is about innovation and in one of the world’s fastest growing industries, innovation is the highest form of currency. Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO identifies and breaks down the three key stages of ‘Design Thinking’ in his book ‘Change by Design’. These three stages are:

  • Inspiration: The problem of opportunity that motivates the search for solutions (this stage involves sketches, mock-ups and scenario building).
  • Ideation: The process of generating, developing and testing ideas (this stage involves building prototypes and exploring the balance between practical functionality and emotional appeal)
  • Implementation: The path that leads from the project room to the market (this stage involves clearly communicating the idea and proving or showing that it will work).


Implementing ‘Design Thinking’ in the generation of business strategy needs to be included for the right reasons. If we see it as a quick fix of pleasing aesthetics without any structural thought, then we’re only going to be disappointed in the long run. Like most things, innovation must occur within a set of constraints, such as economic viability as well as maintaining a traditional business-minded rational and analytic approach.

This type of approach to content strategy and development is what separates great online marketing and advertising from the rest. Creativity, individuality as well as social and emotional rationality are all important aspects that go into the mix. Human communities depend upon a diversity of talent and not a singular perception of ability.  This is something which is only just dawning on the collective business mind. Once we find a way to successfully implement these basic strategies, the possibilities in innovation increase.

Creating online appeal in a fast growing industry is an important step forward in online communication. The next phase needs to encourage big thinking and a decline in working on a predominantly small scale. Design no longer needs to simply stand for aesthetics (although I’m not going to deny the importance of this as an important draw card for humanity), image and fashion. Moving from design to design thinking is the most obvious way of moving our attention away from the smaller things and focus on the bigger picture.


What do you think the role of design is in digital marketing?

  • Phil Ohren

    Nice post Jess – I really like how you visualised the implementation cycle.

    IMO, design is vital in digital marketing & the first thing I think about when I hear the word “design” is conversion rates.

    Design is able to increase conversion rates across the following items of “Owned Media”; Web / asset design, ad creative & user journey / experience – if these 3 activities are pleasing and simple you’ll notice your conversion funnel will start to widen.