Data-driven Designer

Data influences the quality of the design process, product solution, designer’s skills, and culture.

5 min readJun 21, 2023

Have you ever been asked by stakeholders “Why…?” over your presentation and things you throw are just assumptions or designer-intuition kind of things?

Stakeholders prioritize things that are relevant to themselves, what impresses designers may not necessarily impress stakeholders.

If it’s business people, they mostly just care about profits, metrics, etc.

If it’s engineering people, they mostly care about app/website performance, implementing logic & design with ease, etc.

and so on.

The key here is to have empathy for our target audience, do you know what they care about?

Without data, designer & product won’t success

  • Stakeholders may not agree with our design decision which could result in the product being designed using guts/assumption.
  • From a portfolio point of view, we could risk it not being stand out because we only showcase the process and product, not telling about the outcome.
  • Within a design process, it can make us design based on assumptions or just following the requirements, we’re not really sure if the solution we created fits into the problem.

All of those problems could affect 2 things:

  • Designers: feeling unmotivated & hopeless, losing critical thinking, and reducing their values.
  • Product: losing the opportunity to get success into the market as we are wasting time on solving the (wrong) problem.
Illustration by Blush

Data-driven design process for a better product

Let’s shift the mindset here is to be data-driven within your design process, and there are many ways to achieve it, to start with:

In the early start, make sure to clarify everything

Typically, we would have a discovery phase to understand the problem, opportunity, and context. Asked the right questions to make sure we work on the right things.

A couple of questions we could ask such as:

  • Where is this problem come from?
  • What do we know about the users?
  • Why do we think this is the right problem to solve for the business?

To come up with the right questions, think about the impact it would have on the business and customers, and expand the discussion from it.

Make informed-decision in every process

This is where we need to get rid of all the assumptions by validating and testing them.

  • For a tight deadline project, do asynchronous research such as benchmarking, user reviews, and desk research. This at least helped us get the supporting statements of things we do.
UX Research Methods by Maze
  • For a regular project that incorporated research in it, do complex research such as interviews and usability testing to dig deeper into the context as we might find a pattern and even the root problem that could potentially help how would we design the solution later.

Workflow Tips: Store all data and related informatio (research plan, insights, etc.) in one source of truth, could be the design brief so people could always refer on it. This will especially be helpful to collaborate with teams.

Think about edge cases and alternatives

Acquire as much context about the problem we solve, and make sure to explore potential issues or edge cases where our solution might fall, couple of ways to do this:

  • Collaborate with cross-teams, you can do a simple co-creation or just ask for feedback

One way to make sure people take a ownership and responsibility over the design solution is by involving them in the process.

  • Regularly check on the existing data, if previously we already do some sort of research process, now is the time to compare the insights and the design solution we just created, and ask some reflective questions such as “Does this design cover the problem and condition?”, “Based on insights I have, what things my design couldn’t do?”.
  • Empathy with the teams, if previously we reflect on the context of our design, now we reflect on our communication with teams, make sure that the prior expectations we created in the kick-off meeting or anything within the design process are aligned, for example, in a business point of view, what might be their thoughts about the design? does it meet the business goals?

Visualize the impact

People love a good ending story, can you visualize your “ending” of the design solution? Try to create as realistic outcome as possible, try answering:

  • After the product/feature launch, what might be the condition for both businesses and customers?
  • After we deliver the design solution, what might be the concern and how do we’re gonna tackle it?
  • If something goes wrong, what could be the impact? How do we’re gonna fix it?

Include the impact story of the product solution within the presentation deck could be the best way of supporting the design, plus tips if you can visualize using the previous condition you see when you’re testing the product because actually testing the product mimic how it’s gonna be in a real product launch.

Illustration by Blush

Designers should think holistically

You need to start focusing on a broad view, don’t just focus on the design you created but think about the relationship it would have within the space (context, business, engineering, etc.)

For example, if you can’t get the data about the impact that your design just made because the business does not want to share it, think about how can you do it on your own.

How can I get the intended outcome with the relationship I have now within the space? Maximize everything you have (people, skills, etc.)

So in this case you might do your own user testing and extract the insights to be put on your portfolio, you always have alternatives, you just haven’t thought about it.

It needs time to change the culture

Just be realistic that designing your culture is just like designing the product, it needs time and much of an iterative process.

Plan, execute, and audit what has been done

It’s a great way to plan how you would create a workflow within the company so that not only do you make progress on their product but also make an impact on the organization. How do you see now of your environment and what can you do to make it better?

Illustration by Blush

Simply is to invest in data. It doesn’t matter where you start the design process, what matters is when you start involving data in it.




Write about craft, collaboration, strategy, and impact as a designer.