As every entrepreneur knows, when bootstrapping or working with a small budget, it’s important to be very careful with resources. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting one team member to take on the responsibilities of multiple roles. With design, it’s unfortunate yet common enough for teams to have their engineering talent handle the task. But there is an opportunity cost of having developers partition their workflow to do design and development, giving them less time to do the work they excel at. Plus, design will likely take them more time than someone who is familiar with design tools.
Furthermore, design is not like code, in that you don't have to be technical to see it’s results, making everyone a critic. However, it's one thing to critique design it's another to create it. So when your developer wants to do UX/UI design on your product, do like Nancy Reagan, and “Just Say No”. Your developers should be focused on the things they excel at.
Audiences today require fluid UX and premium interaction design. This isn’t just something that can be done overnight; it requires experience to truly understand how to deliver this.
Why is design important?
Trust: Consumers generally trust familiarly and “well” designed products, not something your cousin Timmy (Jimbo) whipped up. When you have to choose between two similar products in the Play Store, see if you feel more secure with the modernly designed product or the one that looks like a subreddit.
Design is key to audience - Business to Consumer (B2C) needs to match the defined customer base, while Business to Business (B2B) is often a lot more forgiving with visuals. With a solid B2B product you can get away with no design, but what about when a similar product with better design hits the market?
User Experience: Visual design is important - but on its own it's nothing more than eye-candy. The interface should be able to enhance the core functions and create a comfortable experience for your users.
When is design less important?
Minimal Viable Products (MVPs) don’t always need the same level of design refinement as full products. That doesn’t mean they should ignore design, but sometimes it’s better to spend resources testing a market first.
What does design actually provide, then?
In addition to the trust factor for your customers (which is hugely important), it creates a level of “legitimacy” in the general space — meaning investors are more likely to believe in your product, friends, family, as well as competitors. More importantly thatn appearance and assumptions, design is your chance to brand your product. Users are humans — that means they’re going to respond emotionally to pretty much everything, including using your product. They’re going to feel frustrated, annoyed, grateful, impressed and have an internal conversation when they engage with software. It’s the moment your customers start having an emotional relationship with your company. Design is when you get to make your audience feel — wouldn’t you want to be in control of that dialogue?