Research by Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Delft University of Technology (funded by amongst others BNO), indicates that when there is a lot of attention for design in the development process, a product will sell better. Managers of 163 companies participated in this investigation and was therefore the largest of its kind to date.
The researchers differentiated between Experience design (design to stimulate the senses and evoke emotional response) and Functional design (design for technology, usability, etc.). New products for which experience design was a major influence in the development performed better with an average of 9 percent. When functional design was the biggest factor, products performed better by 10 percent. When both design aspects were addressed as equally important, products performed even better by 20 percent.
Another interesting finding is that several positive effects of design were stronger when designers explored more ideas in the design process that could be considered to be outside of the project. This suggests, that in order to improve, companies would have to provide designers with more freedom to explore. Contradictory to the common expectation: the better the briefing, the better the result.
The positive effect of experience design became weaker once clients were given too much influence in the development/ design process. The researchers state that this effect can be explained by the fact that designers generally focus more on innovative aspects of the design and clients tend to be more drawn to product features and functionality that are more familiar to them.