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Why You Should Care About Design The way you present your products, packaging, and even your waiting area tells your customers important information about who you are. Make sure you are sending the right message.

By Stephanie Vozza

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Looks may not be everything, but an ineffective product or package can have a negative impact on the success of your company. "Entrepreneurs should consider the value of design before they start any project," says Jan Habraken, founder of FormNation, a New York City-based design studio.

Habraken says that both beauty and function are important. He encourages entrepreneurs to consider all aspects of how they present their businesses to the public. Here are three ways design impacts your business and what you can do about it.

Related: Richard Branson on the Importance of Design

1. The way you present your products tells customers who you are.
"Your logo, packaging and product all communicate a message about your company," says Habraken. "It determines how your customer perceives you."

Habraken says Apple does a great job of communicating its values through the design of its products. "Take a look at a MacBook or an iPod. Everything is neatly arranged and designed. It leaves the impression that Apple is a company of efficiency and quality," he says.

2. Aesthetic appeal can improve sales.
A beautiful environment or product packaging has been proven to be a deciding factor when people make a purchase or frequent a business. A study by researchers at the University of Missouri found that the restaurant's waiting area influenced diners' willingness to wait for a table.

Curved and angled walls, and decorative elements and a visually divided space all improved the customer experience. Consider your own physical location as well as your products and marketing materials. Check out your competitors for ideas, or invest in hiring a professional to revamp your look.

3. Effective design eliminates customer confusion.
Habraken says the things that irritate us in life are often those that are poorly designed. Business owners should pay attention to customer comments and complaints.

Consider the 2000 presidential election ballot in Florida ballot -- the confusing layout led to a lot of problems. "Improving things like readability can be as simple as changing the font or the amount of white space," says Habraken, who recently created a color-coded easy-to-read version of the familiar 1040 U.S. tax form with hopes of convincing the IRS to make revamp their forms.

Presenting information in a clear and logical way will help customers easily understand how to use your product.

"[It's important to] take someone from point A to point B in the fastest amount of time and with the least amount of stress," says Habraken. He says that something as simple as a horizontal door handle can subconsciously tell customers to push a door instead of pull. Design should provide a service rather than just showcase the work of the person who created it.

Related: Rethink Your Office Design: Designing a More Effective Workspace

Stephanie Vozza is a freelance writer who has written about business, real estate and lifestyle for more than 20 years.

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