Why designers should follow the stock market
Upon first glance — one would naturally question the connection between finance and design. However, I would argue that they are more interconnected than one would initially assume. Since COVID I’ve had a lot of time and decided to use some of that time to learn more about stocks, investing, and really auditing my own personal finance as a whole.
Firstly, the stock market is all about trends and being able to predict the success (or decline) of a particular company. Whether you analyze a company on a technical basis or a fundamental basis, trends and predictive patterns are essential to any successful investment. The typical design philosophy emphasizes a user-centered process — with the user serving as the main indicator of success. However, design truly does not live in a vacuum and it’s been proven that successful designers must consider not only the user but also the business as a whole as well.
Therefore, in order to learn about the market, you should also educate yourself with as much knowledge as possible in a variety of sectors including not only finance or economics, but politics, society, business, culture, history, mathematics, and even science. Once you know more and more about these, you can finally build your own standards and thoughts for what’s necessary to better read the market. Of course, you can get some help from others; many articles and market briefing from analysts are great resources for everyone. However, the most important thing is, in the end, you should take them as a reference, and draw conclusions based on “your own analysis.”
In fact, this process is similar to how I have to solve problems as a designer. Since usually, problems from users are much more complicated than I initially thought, in order to solve the problems, it is necessary to “listen” to various perspectives, “incorporate and evaluate” them, and “draw a line what to prioritize” based on my own thoughts and insight. And this process of 1) listening to what people say, 2) analyzing large amounts of information, 3) exploring possibilities, and 4) developing the final solution is the same as what I go through as a designer. Therefore, the stock market is a good place to practice problem-solving skills with the world’s most difficult situation, like now.
Companies such as Peloton have experienced tremendous increases in their stock price by proving their business model, building a loyal customer base, and more. Their success is a clear indication that they are doing something right which can serve as a reference point for competitors and new start-ups to explore. Following the market reveals insights into trends, business opportunities, and strategies that can truly improve business outcomes for your designs. As much as design is creative it's equally tied to business outcomes.
To sum things up, no you don’t have to follow the market if you don’t want to. However, following the market can serve as an invaluable tool for you to leverage within your design career. The terminology and jargon you learn can serve as a unique toolset during conversations with internal stakeholders. Successful and well-designed products have all become publicly traded — i.e Spotify, Slack, and now Doordash and Airbnb! Finally, I believe opening up some conversation about what we extra do as a designer can be a good source of motivation to each other. These past few weeks have been precious times for me to think of who I am as a designer and what kind of designer I wish to be. I’ve been thinking about these questions for a long time, but particularly these days I am asking myself, what are my greatest strengths as a designer and how I can make the best of my ability to contribute to our society. Recently, I have been virtually meeting so many people from all over the world, talking about my experiences in UX design, HCI master’s program, internship/full-time UX interviews, providing and receiving valuable mentorship, or even just having a casual talk about each other’s life. Through these talks, I learned so much and feel very grateful and blessed to be able to connect with some passionate/inspiring people. Yes, this is such a very challenging time for everyone, so as always, if I can be of any help or if you would like to talk with me, feel free to hit me up. I hope every one of you and your loved ones all stay safe and healthy!