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Evidencing the value of your work

‘Evidence of effectiveness’ That was the top answer in the 2018 What Clients Think Report to the question ‘If a new agency had 30 seconds to say something to you, what would be most likely to get your interest?’ 


The question was posed to 500 clients, and it’s not at all surprising that an agency’s ability to talk about its work in a business context came out on top. 

As the DBA’s CEO Deborah Dawton told this week, “In today’s world, delivering aesthetically beautiful design is not enough. Effective design is what matters and clients are looking for the evidence of an agency’s effectiveness before taking the plunge. In a saturated market, evidencing your design effectiveness is a way to stand out and prove your credentials.”

The best way to powerfully evidence the value of your work? Winning a DBA Design Effectiveness Award. 

As the new Call for Entries for the 2019 DBA Design Effectiveness Awards launches, I thought I’d give an overview of some of the changes to the entry process this year, along with tips for success and details of the support you can access. 

What's new?

An ongoing strategic review of the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards is happening throughout this year (and beyond) to ensure all elements are truly reflective of the industry in today’s world. 

The overwhelming response to the review of the Awards has been that design businesses and the businesses that commission design love what it stands for. The rigour attached to it, the judging process, and the prestige attached to a Design Effectiveness Award win, are all highly valued. The review has a long-term approach and we are carefully developing the scheme across the next few years, starting with some changes to the entry process this year. 

Here are two key changes you should look out for:
— Note that the entry format no longer asks for art-working of the entry PDF. Only shortlisted winners will be asked to do this when they are notified of their win.
— For 2019, entries must not state the design agency or in-house design team, as entries are now anonymised. 

You can read further details about the review and the changes introduced this year here. 

“We have always placed a high value on the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards because of the hard measures of success on which they are judged, but also because they recognise the necessary spirit of collaboration and partnership between client and design teams on which all successful projects depend.” Craig Wightman, Chief Design Officer, Kinneir Dufort 

Download the Entry Pack 2019 for full details, along with advice and guidance on how to write a strong and compelling entry. The Pack includes a list of suggested metrics you could use to monitor your design effectiveness. It also provides some suggestions around other influencing factors that can help you provide the judges with the relevant market context around the design and build your case by tackling it head on and evaluating why the results were linked to the design solution used. 

My top tips:

Be clear on what’s required. We see lots of entries where agencies go to town on describing the design solution in terms of the creative rather than what it set out to achieve. What we want to hear is how the solution addressed the requirements set out in the brief – and of course we want to hear about the results attributed to the design solution.

“Be clear on your objectives, be clear on the results, be clear on how design led to your results. Don’t make it hard for the judges to see the value.” Chris Linnet, Chief Product Officer, & previous DBA Design Effectiveness Awards judge


Context is really important. A 50% uplift in a small business in one sector may not be as impressive as a 2% uplift in a large business in a different sector. Percentages are OK, but if you can, back these up with the actual figures that sit behind them, even if you only include those figures in the ‘Confidential – not for publication’ version of your entry. Give the judges some context for your figures – what is happening to the market as a whole? The ‘Confidential – not for publication’ version of your entry will only be seen by the judges, and only after they’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement.


“Don’t underestimate the importance of setting the scene of the market and baseline position.” Nikki Marsh, Director of Customer & Digital, Leeds Building Society & previous DBA Design Effectiveness Awards judge


Take advantage of the support we offer. On 20 September at 3pm, you can hear directly from DBA’s Chief Executive, Deborah Dawton, on how to enter into the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards and learn a snapshot of how to make your business consistently effective in design. Register for the webinar here.

And throughout the next few months, pre-booked consultation calls are available with a member of the DBA team. A very limited number of Design Effectiveness Surgeries are also available with DBA CEO Deborah Dawton. For details about both of these and to book your place email

Get started now. The entry deadline is 5pm GMT 30 November 2018. That seems a way off yet, but early preparation will aid the process and give you the best chance to put together a really strong entry.

Image credit: 

Photo by ShareGrid on Unsplash


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