What the hell does design have to do with accountancy anyway?

At the core of everything we do is one simple question: ‘how can we make things better for our customers?’ We’re always seeking to improve our service, and we’ll never settle for less. To do this, we use design.


But you’re probably thinking: what the hell does design have to do with accountancy anyway?


Everything! For many people, design is all about aesthetics – how something is made, how it looks, it’s about art, jewellery, fashion. But that’s just one aspect. So, what makes design such a powerful tool?


It’s simple really: design is all about people.


Design is what sets us apart from other accountants, it’s who we are. Any business can successfully use design tools and techniques to improve their service, whether you’re a jeweller or a joiner. At Ashton McGill, we’re no different. We live and breathe design— we’ve used it to help transform accountancy from something painful and clunky to something streamlined and customer-centric.




Design culture is a huge part of our ethos and it’s at the very heart of Ashton McGill accounting. We try to embrace creativity in all that we do, taking a design-led approach to every element of our business, even in things like systems and processes as well as the obvious ones like user-friendly web design and graphics. But how things look and feel are really important to us, too. That’s why we’re passionate about creating an inviting and welcoming office space that provides a positive and reassuring experience for our customers. We believe in the value of empathy and understanding, always seeking to build meaningful relationships with our clients. For us, service design is from the moment a potential client picks up the phone to get in touch with us right up to the point where they walk through our door. After all, design is all about human experience and how to create unforgettable experiences for your customers.




For us, design goes hand-in-hand with good customer service. Since design is human-centric, it will always benefit people by successfully meeting their needs and wants. Simply put, a well-designed business creates happy customers. And satisfied customers create great testimonials— people who will want to shout about you to their friends and family and recommend you to everyone they know. So, it’ll work wonders for your marketing, too.


So, why should I bother taking a design-led approach to my business?


You shouldn’t underestimate the value of design for business: enterprises with a design-led approach are often a more rewarding place to work. Design and innovation can also help to boost revenues because when it’s implemented well, design will ultimately improve the quality of your service. It’s a win-win!




So, where do I begin?


If there’s only one thing you should take away about design, it’s The Double Diamond Method. This is essentially the golden rule of design thinking. This approach is central to all design practice– it forms the basis of everything you do and creates a fail-proof structure to the design process. So, whether you’re streamlining the delivery of a service or even designing a lamp, the process will always be the same.


You can think of The Double Diamond method as kind of like a design mantra: 


Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver.


It’s simple really, that’s all there is to it!


This method simply outlines the process of solving a problem: 


  • Discover (the problem) 
  • Define (the problem)
  • Develop (the solution)
  • Deliver (the solution).


So, design always inherently begins with the customer or end-user– first, you should talk to the people who you’re designing for in order to discover the problems they’re experiencing. Only then can you start really defining what those problems are, because until you’ve truly figured out the problem, you can’t effectively solve it. After you’ve collected this data, it’s then time to start developing a solution. Failure is good at this stage— sometimes you’ll have to try lots of things before you find a solution that really works. Then it’s up to you to deliver that solution.


What tools should I use to help design my business?


Implementing design in business can seem daunting at first. But we’re here to tell you not to be discouraged. There’s plenty of tools and techniques you can use to help simplify the process, and some will even do the bulk of the work for you.


One of our favourite tools is The Business Model Canvas. If you’re familiar with the work we do, you’ve probably heard us talking about this before. We really believe in the value of this tool in helping to design innovative business models that stand out from competitors. The canvas maps out a customer-centric template for designing businesses which continually meet the needs and wants of their clients. All you need to do is fill in the gaps.




The Business Model Canvas might seem complicated at first glance, but unfortunately there’s a lot of misinformation surrounding it which can sometimes muddy the waters. Once you get the hang of it though, it’s pretty straightforward. To help simplify the process, we’ve created a handy little guide on how to use The Business Model Canvas. It’s a guidebook for innovators and game changers looking to challenge outdated business models and stand out from the crowd. It’s for those that believe in better and find themselves continually asking: ‘why do things have to be this way?’. If that sounds like you, you can download our free guide here.




The Main Takeaway


So really, design is just solving problems, but doing it in a creative way. Good design has the power to transform lives— to make things simple, more effective and to bring joy to the people that these innovations serve. You don’t have to be creative or even artistic to master the art of designing amazing goods and services, you just need to be patient and extremely attentive to the needs, wants and problems of your customers.


Design isn’t just a philosophy, it’s a way of life.