Design ladder is used for evaluating design maturity at various organizational levels. It is built on the idea that higher earnings are related to each other in a positive manner, putting bigger reliance on design methods in the early stages of growth, thus giving the design a more prominent role in the overall strategy of the company.
Different Stages of Design Ladder
Stage 1 – No Design
Design plays no role in product/service development. It is an invisible aspect of product production patterns and skilled designers may not handle the job. The approach is motivated by the principles of good function and aesthetics of the active participants. In the process, the experience of the users plays little or no part.
Stage 2 – Design as Styling
Design is only relevant in terms of style. Whether concerning product creation or graphic design, the design is seen solely as the final step of form-giving. The word ‘styling’ is used by many designers for this process. Professional designers may perform the assignment, but people with other professional backgrounds usually handle it.
Stage 3 – Design as Process
Design is integral to the development process. It is not a result, but an approach that is incorporated into the production process at an early stage. The solution is motivated by the problem and the users and involves the participation of a wide range of expertise and capabilities, such as process engineers, materials engineers, marketing specialists, and administrative personnel.
Stage 4 – Design as Strategy
Design is a key strategic means of encouraging innovation. The designer works with the owners/ managers of the organization to fully or partially reinvent the business model. Here, concerning the company’s strategic visions and its ideal business areas, and a potential position in the value chain, the main emphasis is on the design process.
Stage 5 – Design as Politics
Design is a key political lever to create good human life experiences. There are higher earnings and greater exports for companies that routinely deal with design than for companies that do not use design. That is the key finding of the ‘The economic impacts of nature’ study.
In firms where architecture is deeply embedded in both internal and external design investments, the economic effects are more pronounced. With regard to the position of the company on the Design Ladder, higher positioning on the Design Ladder is correlated with a positive impact on gross earnings and a direct positive impact on exports.