These days, almost every company is a design company, but the need for qualified designers far exceeds the supply. To fill this gap, companies of all sizes are embracing no-design tools that let non-designers participate in the design process.
With no-design tools, collaboration between non-designers and designers becomes exponentially more productive and powerful. In fact, many would argue that the no-design movement — twin to the no-code movement — is essential for shaping the future of work.
Think about it: Would you rather receive an interactive mockup or a cryptic PowerPoint deck on what your client or colleague wants you to design? How much quicker can you get to the final version if you have a visual representation of what you’re aiming for from the get-go? How much back and forth can you avoid if you know how they picture their idea before you even start?
Designers are essentially trained problem-solvers, and we can all agree that increasing our problem-solving capacity as humans is a win-win for everyone. Here are five great reasons why.
✏️ Thanks to our friends at Uizard for sponsoring this blog post!
1. Empower visual thinking
Visual thinking helps to simplify the complex and move concepts from the abstract to the concrete. But when it comes to communicating big ideas, many non-designers lack the confidence to express themselves visually. No-design tools like Canva and Uizard have user-friendly “what you see is what you get”-style interfaces that flatten the steep learning curve of traditional design software.
With a variety of templates as starting points, and simple drag-and-drop components to customize layouts, non-designers can easily draft their concepts. Externalizing ideas in this low-stakes format fosters an experimental mindset and offers the psychological safety that lets non-designers lean into conversations with design experts.
Great ideas can — and should — come from anywhere within an organization. Anyone, regardless of role or training, should feel empowered to think through improvements and pitch new ideas. Indeed, many companies have launched internal and external crowdsourcing platforms for fueling their innovation pipelines.
In the HBR article, Why Now Is the Time for ‘Open Innovation’, the authors suggest that organizations who want to be more resilient in uncertain times and thrive in the face of change must approach innovation in a more “distributed, decentralized and participatory way.”
2. Understand design fundamentals
No-design tools have universal UX and UI standards and best practices embedded in every feature. Their comprehensive templates and component libraries are designed to represent the current vernacular of digital products and experiences, whether in common layouts, navigation systems, or form elements.
With the fundamentals of good design at their fingertips, non-designers can learn by doing, seeing firsthand how and why things work the way they do. In collaborating alongside designers, non-designers benefit from more transparency in what drives decision-making in user-centered design.
What’s more, the growing crop of no-design tools is continuously being fine-tuned to keep pace with the evolution of digital design, from websites to apps to wearables to smart objects. In addition to being driven by the work of super-talented design professionals, no-design tools are increasingly shaped by the power of AI and machine learning.
For example, Uizard’s Design Assistant has a set of intuitive tools that help non-designers bring their ideas to life without the need for complex pixel-manipulation software or coding skills.
3. Leverage everyone’s expertise
Non-designers have typically been invited into the design process as subject-matter experts, but their value need not be limited to sharing institutional knowledge. In a rigorous report on Design Maturity, design platform InVision “found that among the most design-forward organizations, design is well integrated into the product development process, with the senior team, and in the product roadmap.”
In other words, design is woven into the fabric of the organization, with non-designers participating as active, hands-on collaborators in the design process. It’s well known that this correlates to measurable business results, but the benefits reach far beyond the bottom line:
“When organizations establish the right conditions for design and make room for it in core processes, they also experience deeper customer understanding, bolder exploration and experimentation, and more informed decisions vetted through the continuous testing and learning process design enables.”
No-design tools effectively turbocharge this participation. **Non-designers can bring their own domain expertise directly to bear with live editing and inline feedback. **
Not only does this support informed co-creation, but it also streamlines team communication, reducing back-and-forth with designers, endless iteration, and unnecessary meetings or formal presentations.
Nothing gains buy-in on an idea more than having a hand in developing it from the earliest stages.
4. Test ideas quickly
No-design tools can be useful in shortening the path from problem to prototype, making it faster and easier to get real user feedback that can help drive the design process. In this respect, no-design tools are a particular boon for non-designer founders and product owners who are likely to be bootstrapped and may not be able to support a full-stack design and development team to start with.
Testing, learning, and iterating the way forward are core tenets of a lean startup methodology. This way of working necessarily favors speed and flexibility over pixel-perfection for the purpose of creating rapid prototypes and proofs of concept for early market feedback. But it’s not just about rushing ideas out the door.
Connecting directly with customers builds greater empathy with customer needs and values. Not only do their valuable insights inform the design solution, but they also help you to better understand the problem it’s meant to solve.
5. Create more bandwidth
Once companies recognized the measurable value of design, many rushed to develop in-house capabilities, often before understanding what skills were needed and how to structure a design organization.
As a result, designers are often spread thin across multiple business units and under pressure to maintain a brisk pace of consistent delivery. At the same time, they’re also tasked with growing the design practice, mentoring the influx of new hires, and nurturing their own career development.
Non-designers who develop human-centered design literacy and fluency with no-design tools can be a godsend to an over-extended design org.
Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen design training, processes, and tools becoming more accessible to a wider range of people than ever before. Non-designers who take advantage of these opportunities by rolling up their sleeves and experimenting with no-design tools are uniquely positioned to fill a serious talent gap. They can take on design tasks like producing branded social media assets or wireframing key screens themselves rather than escalating to or engaging a design team.
This helps to preserve expert design bandwidth for only the most high-value tasks that require detailed execution or design leadership. Even basic design skills and vocabulary will go far to make non-designers better clients and collaborators.
Organizations as a whole benefit from more distributed design participation, too. The marketplace for skilled and experienced designers is highly competitive, and designers are looking for a fit where they know their contributions will be valued. Organizations that demonstrate an orientation toward design at all levels will help to attract and retain top design talent.
Non-designers are collaborators, not competitors
Overall, designers need not worry that their formal skills and expertise are losing value as a result of the democratizing effect of no-design tools. And non-designers should shake off any intimidation around their abilities to create compelling and useful design assets and artifacts.
No-design tools increase the creative capacity of teams, hard stop. We need all hands on deck to imagine, design, and deliver the digital products and services that will help us live our best lives, but also to help us face the challenges of an uncertain future head-on and eyes open. Design is always better together. ■
About the Author: Radoslav Bali is the Head of Design at Uizard. Rado loves building things, and he’s been a fundamental part of building Uizard. When he’s not democratizing design one prototype at a time, he is shooting videos for his YouTube channel or eating burgers.