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What is a Good Design Culture? – 15 Examples of a Design Culture

“Design culture” is a loaded term that is frequently used but rarely understood. Every company seems to claim to embrace it, but few understand what it is.

To be sure, it’s a difficult phrase to define. If you ask five different designers to explain design culture, you’ll get five different responses. Is it purely aesthetic? Philosophy? Process? Is it all of the above?

Perhaps it means different things to different organizations. While the specifics may vary, design culture can be boiled down to a few overarching, universal themes.

What is a Design Culture?

A design culture is a work environment that is based on design thinking principles and prioritizes the user experience. A company with a strong design culture focuses on creating experiences that add value to the lives of its customers.

A McKinsey digital vice president, Silicon Valley director and digital partner deconstruct what it means to be design-driven in an organization:

“The difference with design-driven companies is that they strive to go far beyond simply understanding what customers want in order to truly understand why they want it.” They recognize that, while data is important for understanding customer behavior, empathy is woefully lacking.

Companies that value design seek out ethnographers and cultural anthropologists. These ’empathy sleuths’ conduct contextual one-on-one interviews, shopper shadowing exercises, and ‘follow me homes’ in order to observe, listen, and learn how people use and experience products.

Read Also: Working on Invisible Technology

What are the Objectives of Good Design?

  • Goals of Design
  • Accessible.
  • Aesthetics.
  • Cost-Effective.
  • Operational / Functional
  • Preservation of the past.
  • Productive.
  • Safe / Secure
  • Sustainable.

How do you Create a Design Culture?

A mature design culture means they are empowered and engaged to do their best work, and they can be confident that their input is valued and respected within the context of their team.

3 Strategies for Creating a Design Culture at Work:

  • Look for Empathy
  • Encourage Collaborative Learning
  • Design Leadership Must Be Elevated

How do you Create a Design Culture?

There are several approaches to developing a design culture. Some companies, such as Dropbox, have a design team that moves from project to project, similar to an internal design consultancy. Furthermore, some organizations ensure that designers are present on all product teams. Some companies, like Airbnb, ensure that each product team has a project manager whose sole responsibility is to represent the interests of the users.

IDEO defines a robust design culture by five characteristics:

  1. Constant interest. Everyone in your company has questions, and you have systems to help inform and answer them.
  2. Experimentation is done frequently. Employees are constantly looking for new ways to solve problems, which leads to more successful launches.
  3. Collaboration between teams. Different teams from various verticals are at ease working together. Nothing is done in isolation. Collaboration tools like Freehand enable your team to collaborate on wireframes, plans, and design presentations.
  4. Storytelling with purpose. Instead of letting an idea die as it bounces between teams, assign it to someone who can truly own it, such as a project lead, design lead, or passionate team member. Their job is to tell stories that create momentum and excitement.
  5. More suggestions. Coming up with a plethora of ideas is a daily practice at your organization, allowing you to quickly iterate and receive feedback. You’re constantly improving how you ship new products.


I believe that a single blog post cannot possibly cover all aspects of this subject. A thriving design practice necessitates deliberate engagement on the part of leadership, designers, and other members of the organization, and one size does not fit all.

I hope that by sharing these stories about our company, I’ve sparked some ideas or thoughts in your mind about how you and your organization can learn and grow. I’d also like to hear about any characteristics that I haven’t mentioned on this list.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about What is a Good Design Culture?

What exactly is good design?

We only say yes to people we know and like. Implementation, flow, and context are the three levels of design patterns.

What is design culture in the context of design thinking?

A design culture is an organizational culture that focuses on approaches that use designs to improve customer experiences. Design is important in every company because it allows it to understand its customers and their needs.

What do you consider to be good design?

Good design is defined by the principles of industrial designer Dieter Rams: it makes a product useful and understandable, is innovative, aesthetic, unobtrusive, honest, long-lasting, meticulous in every detail, environmentally friendly, and involves as little design as possible. Designers strive for excellence in their work.

What is the definition of culture design management?

Through the convergence of culture, designs, and technology, the Culture and Design Management (CDM) major seeks to nurture and train globally talented individuals capable of planning, producing, and managing creative content and new businesses in the culture industry.


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