I used to think that design was all about artsy, visual things: fashion, graphic layouts, modern architecture, fancy furniture. You know — all the “form” stuff. It’s true that design is central to all of these, but design permeates FAR more of what we do than we all probably realize, particularly when you start thinking about the “function” piece.
Crafting an email and paying attention to how you organize it? That is design. Deciding what order your slides should go in for a presentation? Design. Trying to figure out how to most effectively lay out a prospect profile? More design. Strategizing about possible ways of engaging a prospect? Development. (And still design.)
Basically, any time you are controlling how something is constructed, that is design. Pretty sure that all of us, as human beings, are then constantly designing in one way or another, whether we know it or not.
And that last piece is wherein the most opportunity lies: most of us probably don’t realize how much we are designing things as we go along, and by simply acknowledging this and keeping it in mind, I imagine we get better and more thoughtful about everything we do.
What are some design questions that Researchers can consider to help them do their work better? Here are a few examples:
- What details should I include in this event bio?
- How should I use formatting and fonts to highlight the most important information in this prospect profile?
- What questions should I ask this gift officer so they’ll tell me the most valuable things about the donor visit they just returned from?
- What information should I focus on finding about a prospect at any particular point in the cultivation/solicitation cycle?
- How much do I go into detail about this prospect’s stock holdings?
- Which of these stats should I display in a chart? In an infographic? In a table? Just as plain ol’ numbers?
For more reading on myriad concepts related to design, check out Universal Principles of Design. It’s a really excellent book that is PACKED with all sorts of information about concepts in design. I can about guarantee that it will inform or inspire at least a part of what you do in your work.