10 Powerful Case Studies of Remarkable Business Growth With Design You Need to See

Design, but simple.

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It seems like everyone these days speaks about design in business and how it can promote business growth. Design is Silicon Valley’s new secret weapon. Design is engrained in the startup culture.

But where’s the data?!

How can you be sure that what the journalists and investors are saying is actually true and not some amazingly persuasive conspiracy made up by designers?

Hey, want to learn more about how design can help your business? Sign up for a totally free email course on design and business by clicking here.

In this list, I tried to compile a healthy mix of different types of “design wins”. Some of these businesses achieved a staggering overall business growth, others increased their engagement and conversion rates. Some of these companies are startups, others are eCommerce sites.

Hopefully, this list will help you understand why design is so important — even for your small business. Let’s begin.

PopTip business growth ($2.41M investment)

Kelsey Falter is a young entrepreneur with background in branding, marketing, and front-end development. She had successfully translated her skills into a design-focused startup PopTip which aimed to provide quick customer feedback through polls on social media.

PopTip had gotten investments in the sum of $2.41M from Scott Belsky (founder of Behance) and Jared Hecht (co-founder of GroupMe) and a number of other investors. The company had been acquired by Palantir Technologies in 2014.

Path ($66.15M investment) business growth

Path is a mobile photo-sharing and messaging service for up to 150 contacts. It’s definitely one of today’s best-designed social networks.

Dave Morin
co-founder of Path

You can pop a tech-driven startup extraordinarily fast, but VCs are starting to see that having designer founders pays off in the long run.

In 2015, Path has been acquired by a South Korean company Daum Kakao, but not before raising staggering $66.15 million in several funding rounds. Investors include Gary Vaynerchuk, First Round Capital, and Betaworks.

Two Leaves and a Bud (34% increase in revenue) growth

This organic tea distributer was in a tough spot. Their website looked like it had been designed in the 90’s, but they had a very small budget to invest in a redesign. On top of it all, there was no guarantee that a redesign would actually improve sales.

Fortunately, they approached the redesign the smart way. Before getting a designer, they’ve done thorough research and set clear objectives. This caused a 34% increase in revenue, rendering the rebranding campaign very successful.

Wacom business growth with design (300% increase in traffic)

It’s not surprising that Wacom pays a great deal of attention to design, since their product is directly related to it. Website redesign can still be a tough nut to break.

Wacom targets two very different group of customers. One are creative professionals, and the other is general public interested in more entry-level tools.

How can a website cater to both these audiences without alienating either? This was the main problem the renowned designer Tobias can Schneider took on with the help of Fantasy studio.

Their redesign was more than successful as it brought in 300% increase in overall traffic. Here’s the full case study.

Netflix business growth (user engagement)

In June 2011, Netflix rolled out a brand new interface. The codename of the redesign was “Density” as the new UI was literally more densely covered in movie covers.

As it’s usual with huge product changes, the users’ backlash began. However in many cases the people voicing their opinion on UX are in the minority — just like it was the case with Netflix.

They meticulously A/B tested various elements of their interface. The results kept showing that despite the loud few complaining, user engagement had actually grown.


Bryan Gumm
Manager of Experimentation

What people say and what they do are rarely the same. We’re not going to tailor the product experience, just to please half a percent of the people.

FirstSTREET (400% increase in sales) business growth

Normally, making small changes such as different headlines or colour of the call to action are enough to achieve a significant improvement in a landing page’s performance. In the case of FirstSTREET, the company providing tech beginners with tailored Linux computers, a total redesign was in order.

Steve Parker
VP of FirstStreet

We realised we were rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and did a radical redesign.

I particularly like this case study because of course design thinking will transform a business, and mostly for the better — but it proves that aesthetics play an important part in direct sales. By updating their 90’s web design, the company was able to increase the number of sales by 400% and the cart conversion rate by 90%.

This is similar to what I’ve learned when I analysed 8 successful online businesses to learn the most important web design tips. Here’s that post.

Nickelodeon (#1 app for kids in App Store)

I didn’t know that the Emmy’s also have a category called Interactive Digital Media Programs. In 2013, it had been won by Nickelodeon’s app which lets kids watch their content on-demand.

The app was praised for the sleek design, fantastic UX, and fun interactive elements. The app ranked number 1 of all kids apps on Apple App Store for a while. The design was done by the Fantasy studio which had been working with the largest brands in the world like Google, Microsoft, and USA Today.

Airbnb ($24B valuation) business growth

“We noticed a pattern. There’s some similarity between all these 40 listings. The similarity is that the photos sucked.” told Airbnb’s co-founder Joe Gebbia for Firstround.

For the company that had been at that time earning less than $1000 per month, this was a crucial realisation. The three co-founders decided to throw their last money into flying out to New York, rent professional camera, and take some of the photos themselves.

New photos for just a few listings instantly created a 100% increase in their earnings. They were onto something. Even though this wasn’t necessarily scalable, it helped bring the company to today’s $24 billion valuation.

Optimizely (46.3% more accounts)

There is no point in doing a redesign if it doesn’t provide a measurable improvement in business.

Just before Optimizely launched a new website design, they needed to make sure that the redesign actually performed better. So they tested it against the old version on a portion of their traffic.

The update beat the old design by a large margin. there have been 48.2% more visits to the pricing page, 46.3% more accounts created, 31.6% more engagement. Of course, the team decided to release the new redesign to all customers.

Harry’s ( $136.5M investment)

Shaving gear is a $2.4 billion market dominated by the likes of Wilkinson Sword, Shick, and Gillette.

Well, at least it had been, until the Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeffrey Raider decided to offer a new experience in facial shaving.

Their approach is not unlike Apple’s — Harry’s differentiate with beautiful branding, product design (ergonomically correct handles, five-blade razors), and mind-blowing level of quality and attention to detail. It’s not a surprise 90% of their customers reorder.

Their marketing stems on storytelling which wouldn’t be possible without the co-founders’ experience with cracking markets with cool branding.

I hope you’ve gotten a few ideas for implementing design into your own business. While design isn’t some magical silver bullet that will solve all your business problems (only sales do that), it’s still obvious that very different business types can benefit from smart implementation.

Design, but simple.

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