Digital projects, expense or investment? (II)

Proyectos digitales (2)


On my previous post we saw the importance of generating a culture where our work developing digital projects is considered as an investment and not just as a simple expense, susceptible of being reduced at the first financial hurdle. Today we continue to look for ways that allow us to change this perception and ways we can demonstrate our worth.

What if we are the investment?

Being able to create a culture in which creating a digital product goes from being an expense to being an investment with tangible results and relatively easy to demonstrate seems a brutal advance for those who make a living out of design.

This culture will make that next time a company encounters a problem they want to solve considers us as an investment, and not as an expense to eliminate in order to fix that problem.

How to move from being an expense to be an investment?


The answer is simple: setting Objectives.

Easy, right? Well, not so much. ‘I want to be a leader in my industry’, ‘Selling 300% more in a short time’, ‘Achieving my competitors in turnover… are cool, but these are not appropriate targets.

For a target to be well formulated and not lead us to failure before starting the project it must be well defined. George T. Doran wrote in 1981 on five characteristics to consider when setting a goal. They are grouped in the acronym SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Isn’t it easy now?

Well, easy… not quite. Probably each and every person who you will have to deal with to define the project will have a different view of what they need/want. The objective of the MD will be different from that of the CTO, or the CEO… so each one will have a different vision of the project.

How to manage the way to obtain and digest that information?


The answer is simple: Research.

Suppose we have a single and well-defined objective such as:

Website for a retail business: ‘We want to increase the number of registered users by 10% in three months’.

There it goes! Then I have to get users (those unknown beings who do not know what is actually cool or not…) to register on this website. And not only that, I have a set time and a number of records to achieve.

How I can know the motivation of such user when registering on a website to achieve my goal?

The answer is simple: Research.


In order to quantify the value of our work, we must offer solutions. A customer is fully aware of the money that will bring increased sales by 10% in their e-commerce, but the economic benefit of just redesigning it not measurable.

By the way, that Research… it’s easy, right?


  • McDerment, M. and Cowper, D. 2013. Breaking the Time Barrier: How to Unlock Your True Earning Potential. Toronto: Freshbooks.
  • Unger, R. and Chandler, C. 2012. A Project Guide to UX Design: For user experience designers in the field or in the making. 2nd ed. Berkeley: New Riders.
  • Garrett, J.J. 2011. The Elements of User Experience: User-centered Design for the Web. 2nd ed. Berkeley: New Riders.
  • Smart, la clave para tener objetivos inteligentes | Alto Nivel. 2015. Smart, la clave para tener objetivos inteligentes | Alto Nivel. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 July 2015]. [In Spanish]
  • SMART criteria – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2015. SMART criteria – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 July 2015].


One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.