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Design Strategy Framework

Our diagram for designing products that meld our business goals and users’ needs.

The nuts and bolts: A design strategy framework is created by understanding the business needs of your customer and aligning it with what they want. The process can then be tailored around their expectations, too!

Strategy framework example

What you’re feasting your eyes upon is the ZURB Design Strategy Framework (which you can click on to see a bit easier). This framework is an all-inclusive design strategy blueprint that serves to keep your business happy, as well as your customers and end users.

The design strategy framework meshes the world of your business into the world of your users. The emphasis of this design framework is on prototyping, collaborating and iterating designs rather than waiting until you think you have all the answers for a product and then proceeding to design.

By using our cycle of prototyping, collaborating and iterating, we are avoiding the pitfall of an abundance of information that may lead to over-analysis and ultimately analysis paralysis. If we sink into analysis paralysis we find ourselves stalled with too many questions to answer and too many possibilities leaving us immobile and inactive, thus leading to a poor business.

The design strategy we’ve put in place helps us uncover unforeseen opportunities that will undoubtedly ensure customer satisfaction as well as stepping in the right direction to achieve business goals.

Using Another Framework as a Guide

Ready … Set … Oh… Before we set off into our framework, you have to make sure your business has a clear and succinct mission statement. If you do not have one setup, you must look into creating the oh-so-dreaded mission statement now. It is the framework of your business, as well as your framework for … well … everything.

Without the mission statement, you have no guide or narrowed focus on how you need to proceed with your business and your products/services. To build up to your mission statement, there are a few other conceptual elements that you need in place to build a strong business entity. You need a mantra, purpose statement, mission statement and vision statement.

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  • Your business mantra is basically a rally cry. What you want is a memorable three to four word description of what your business does. In the case of Dr. Eldon Tyrell “More Human than Human” is their motto or mantra over at the Tyrell Corporation.
  • The purpose statement can often be confused with the mission statement, however, the purpose statement is just a broad inspirational statement. Nothing flashy, just a motivational statement that’s not guided by an end goal. To give you an idea, we at ZURB have the purpose statement “Help People Design for People”
  • Your mission statement is a sentence that establishes a specific goal. The sentence should keep people focused on a result. Your statement should flirt with being most illogical and unreasonable, yet resonate with your team. Our mission statement is as follows: “Build a design business that teaches people how to create better products & services through our consulting, products, education, books, training and events.”
  • Last but not least, your vision statement is the end result of your mission statement. This is a comprehensive and detailed visualization of what your mission statement will accomplish. Vision statements are often drawn out in a paragraph to help bring out the concise vision of your business. ZURB’s vision statement is, “Share in the success of other people that have experienced working and interacting with ZURB. Appreciate how innovative and people-centric design improves the financial success of businesses and increases the enjoyment for their customers.”

With the prerequisites laid out for our design framework, it’s time to see how the business’ goals play into our design strategy framework.

The Cogwork to Our Framework

Every system has integral innards, the things that make it work. Our design strategy framework is no different. There are four tasks that drive our framework: positioning, proof points, functions, and benefits. Each of these tasks’ core principles is connected to one another in order to build a strong link that fulfills real customer needs and aligns with business goals.


The first phase begins with how you position yourself in your desired market. You want to get yourself in the best position possible to beat out the rest of your competition. You want that coveted pole position.

Positioning is a concise statement that identifies how your product is different from market competitors, who your customers are, the category of your product, and compelling reasons why users should buy from your business. This must be extremely accurate and precise to allow for ease of drafting the rest of the framework.

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To put the core principle simply — positioning is a statement that sums up how your product will solve a market problem.

Proof Points

To further accentuate the statement made for positioning, come your proof points. Proof points are a list of three to four one line statements that highlight your products differences from the competition. Unless you’re Artie “the strongest man… in the world,” then that is your one and only living proof point.

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The proof points are often used in your marketing campaigns to help gain market awareness to get your business name and product to the consumer market. Because proof points are associated with your marketing campaigns it’s exceptionally imperative that your points are accurate and real. If not, customers will lose trust in your business and your brand.


To follow the suit of interconnectedness within the framework, functions are the three or four primary functions of your product that are connected to your proof points. In the words of Bay Area legend E-40, et al. “We Out Here Tryna Function.”

This phase mostly contains clear functions, features, services or processes that validate each of your proof points.

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Each of the functions are grounded in the operations of your product and should relate directly to your proof points. If you cannot validate the proof point with a function, then that particular function/proof point is not accurate.


To complete the unified chain of the design strategy framework, we turn to the benefits.

Your proof points and functions have coalesced and you now have articulated clear validation points. From this point the customer should be able to understand how the functions, features, services or processes of your product will benefit them.

Direct benefits should be easily definable and measurable. If you can track the success of each of the benefits found in your product, your business will be in great position to build upon and iterate the original mission for the product.

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You Can’t Have One Without the Other

Heads and Tails. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Spaghetti and Meatballs. Burt and Ernie. Just a few things that when separated just don’t have the same impact as when working together.

The customer is a business’ lifeline. Without customers, there is no need for a product. Without a product, there is no need for the business. These concepts are all as intertwined as our design strategy framework.

With the development of a solid mission statement, we can cultivate an even stronger design strategy framework.

 By understanding what we want to accomplish as a business and what the consumer market will need from products — we have the necessary information to create the best products.

Having a sound mission statement and design strategy framework are two, vastly, important pieces to building a strong business and strong customer base. These are essentially your lifeline. Without proper connection between the two pieces, your enterprise will surely collapse.

We must keep our business goals sound, in turn we will keep our customers and their needs satiated. We can accomplish this union by the proper utilization of our design strategy framework.