What is a Good Design Culture?

“Good Design Culture” is a loaded term that is often used but rarely understood. It seems like every business says it’s important, but few even know what it is. It’s true that the phrase is hard to explain. Ask different designers to explain design culture, you’ll get different answers. Is it about how it looks? How? What do you believe? Everything above?

Maybe different groups have different ideas about what it means. Even though the details may change, design culture is based on a few big ideas that are always the same.

What is a culture of design?

Design culture is a way of working that is based on design thinking principles and puts the user experience first. A company with a strong design culture focuses on giving its users experiences that make their lives better.

A digital vice president at McKinsey, a director in Silicon Valley, and a digital partner break down what it means for an organization to be design-driven:

“The thing that makes design-driven companies different is that they try to find out why customers want what they want, not just what they want. They know that data are important for understanding how customers act, but that they don’t have nearly enough empathy.

Companies that are interested in design hire ethnographers and cultural anthropologists. These “empathy sleuths” do one-on-one interviews, shopper-shadowing exercises, and “follow me homes” to watch, listen, and learn how people actually use and experience products.

What does good design try to do?

  • Goals for Design
  • Accessible.
  • Aesthetics.
  • Cost-Effective.
  • Functional or Working.
  • Taking care of the past.
  • Productive.
  • Secure / Safe.
  • Sustainable.

How do you create a good design culture?

Design a Company Culture

A mature good design company culture means that they have the freedom and motivation to do their best work, and they know that their ideas are valued and respected by their team.

3 Ways to Make Design a Part of Your Work Culture

  1. Find people who care.
  2. Help people learn from each other
  3. Boost Leadership in Design

How do you set up a culture of design?

A design culture can be built in a few different ways. Some companies, like Dropbox, have a design team that moves from project to project, like an internal design consultancy. And some companies make sure that all product teams have designers on them. Some companies, like Airbnb, make sure that each product team has a project manager whose only job is to look out for the users.

IDEO says that a strong design culture has these five traits:

  • Always interested. Everyone at your company is always asking questions, and you have systems set up to use data to help answer those questions and give more information.
  • Frequent experimentation. Employees are always looking for as many solutions as they can, which makes launches go better.
  • Collaboration between teams. Different teams from different industries are used to working together. In a silo, nothing gets done. Tools that make it easy for people to work together, like Freehand, let your team make wireframes, plans, and design presentations together.
  • Storytelling on purpose. Instead of letting an idea die as it bounces back and forth between teams, give it to someone who can really own it, like a project lead, a design lead, or a passionate team member. Their job is to tell stories that make people move forward and get excited.
  • More thoughts. Your organization comes up with a lot of ideas every day, which lets you make changes quickly and get feedback. You’re always getting better at shipping new things.


I don’t think one blog post could cover everything about this topic. A successful design practice needs leadership, designers, and other members of the organization to work together on it, and one size does not fit all.

I hope that by telling you these stories about our company, I’ve given you some ideas for how you and your organization could learn and grow. I would also love to hear about qualities that I haven’t listed here.

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

What makes a design good?

People we know and like get a yes. Design patterns can be broken down into three levels: implementation, flow, and context.

In design thinking, what is design culture?

Design culture is an organization’s way of doing things that focuses on ways to improve how customers feel through design. In every company, the design is important because it helps the company figure out what users want and need.

What do you define as good design?

Industrial designer Dieter Rams’ principles describe what good design is: it makes a product useful and easy to understand, is innovative, aesthetically pleasing, unobtrusive, honest, long-lasting, thorough down to the last detail, friendly to the environment, and has as little design as possible. Designers strive for good design.

What is culture design management?

The goal of the Culture and Design Management (CDM) major is to find and train talented people from all over the world who can plan, produce, and manage creative content and new businesses in the culture industry by bringing culture, design, and technology together.

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