Measuring Up: Quantifying Designers Performance

One question that’s plagued many a creative director is this: How you measure a creatives performance? You can measure an account person by how much business and revenue they generate. How about designers?

Designers in the commercial design industry are tasked with creating work that works. Work that pleases the client, delights the consumer and drives sales of goods or services. Sometime that includes the work pleasing the creative director, sometimes not. It’s commercial work, not fine art. Fine art has the luxury of being subjective and can be purely conceptual. Commercial work has to sell stuff.

The clearest metric to evaluate design work and by extension, the worker, is "adoption rate". Did the client choose the work? Did it make it to shelf, or on-air? Could the client quantify a sales bump? Or were all your designs left in the "outs" bin.

A slightly more subjective metric is whether the design delivered on the strategy of the project. Does the designer consistently hit the target - doing work that actually makes it to a client presentation (that is, past the CD and the account director whether the client chooses it or not).

The final criteria is the WOW factor. Is it gorgeous? Did it make the CD's eyes tear up just a little bit? Pure aesthetics are important, too, and a seasoned creative leader knows beautiful work when they see it. We were trained to recognize it and we have years of experience judging it. It also has a tendency to win awards if you’re lucky on top of being good.

I generally take notes as the year passes and capture who did what work in my designers goals folders, so at annual review time there are clear examples to reference in your conversations. 

Other factors also influence a designers success in the studio. Do they show up to work on time? Is the work ready at critique time? Is it visually presented well? How well do they speak strategically to the work? What do they bring to the table in brainstorming sessions? What do they contribute when it comes to studio-wide inspiration? What creative energy two they bring to the workplace? How are their client relationships? All important factors.

But the crucial metric of a designers success is certainly “adoption”. Do they do strategic design work that makes it through the gauntlet? Is that work of high aesthetic quality? If the answers there are yes, you’ve got a winner on your hands and many other sins can be forgiven.


Credits: Image Source: University of Salford Press, Techhub Manchester Murals Project