Design as Social Capital

All good design leads to Social Capital. It is at the core of everything we design. Some call that process the user-centred design and some as human-centred design. The notion of Social Capital relies on building solutions that are based on Reciprocity, Trust and Cooperation.

A lot of the population in India still does not have access to the basic amenities in life, and when we talk of building solutions that are going to be useful in these contexts, the Social Capital is something that one cannot ignore.

When working in the development sector, towards creating solutions that have high impact and are long lasting, one should seek help from Social Capital.

These are the Slides from my talk at the UX India 2016 conference, where I put out an open call to the UX community to leverage the notion of Social Capital and build highly impacting solutions.


Creating products we love

As we get into a more connected world, we are flooded with products all around. The challenge for us User Experience Designers, is to ensure that the products we design are loved by a wider audience for better acceptance. After all good User Experience is what will differentiate the good from the bad.

One of the simple exercises I do almost daily is to spend a few minutes observing the products, systems and services around us. There are somethings that we just love and do mind using it again and again. On the other hand there are a lot of products that require an extra effort to be used. The ones that we love are easy to use, have low learnability and is very intuitive in nature.

The other thing I also do is to not just look at UX in the context of web applications, websites or mobile applications. I try to look deeper into UX in things like public transportation, service delivery, children play areas, shopping malls etc.

Recently I gave a talk at the UI UX conference on the same.

I also mentor at an online learning community called SlideRule, and one of the questions I was asked by a participant was, whether one should keep separate things in mind when designing for learning systems as compare to that of mobile applications. My reply was that, while the context and application could change, the fundamental principles of User Experience  remain valid and of utmost importance throughout.

Design in the School Classrooms : ICoRD 2015 paper presentation

This is the paper that I presented at the International Conference on Research in Design 2015, held at IISc, Bangalore, January 7-9th. The paper deals with my experiences with Design Thinking and how we are using that in the work at the Happy Horizons Trust, to improve the quality of education through various activities and projects.

The paper was co-authored by one of my student Jean Haag, a final year Transcultural Design student at L’école de design Nantes Atlantique, India Studio. 

Paper Abstract :
For Design to change from its elitist image, there is a need to implant the value of design from a young age, because design is not just elite. The impression of Design to be a tool for Problem Solving (in its analytical, rational and intuitive thinking) is of most importance.  There can be no better place to inculcate the values of Design than in the schools. Fundamentals of Design, when integrated with the pedagogy, can result in better forms of learning and a shift from the traditional forms of rote learning. Tools like Visual minutes, understanding typography, design thinking patterns, critical analysis, gamification, etc can result in a better way of problem solving and hence learning. We applied these through different activities held in schools across India and across different demography and take inspiration from the findings of these to present in this paper. In the end the paper proposes tools from the world of design that can and should be adapted to the activities done in the schools, in order to present a better learning environment and quality.

Drop me a note, if you would like to read the complete paper, and I shall mail it across.

Conquering Fear : My Thoughts on Entrepreneurship

I have been an entrepreneur at heart and have been trying out quite a few things. When  I reflect back on my life so far, I think there are certain instances, which I feel have inspired me. To me, entrepreneurship is all about conquering fear, and only by doing so one can be happy. Only when one is Happy, can one be an entrepreneur.

I spoke on this topic at the SAM UTH, event in VIT Vellore, on the 23rd March.

Story of Design – Design Day talk

On Saturday 20th April, I gave a talk on Design Education in India at the Design Day Event. The event is a curated, monthly, free for all event that serves to act as a platform for designers to meet, interact, network and engage in conversations around design. The theme for the last one was Design education, and every month the theme changes around one aspect in Design.

We as designers often wonder,why is it that we have so less design schools in India, in spite of its rich legacy in crafts and culture. Where are we now and what is the future of Design education in India ? Do we really understand what is Design and the professional practice of design?


What to expect in 2012

The year 2012 promises to be very exciting for designers. There has been a lot going on irrespective of what field of design you are in. There are more opportunities to start up due to available Design focused startup funds and Angels who want to invest in Design centric startups. Designers have become one of the most valued and sought after commodity in the Silicon Valley, and the demand is often more than what the Design schools are producing.

The solutions that the designers are now catering to solve include cross platform, experience rich solutions to solutions that have a high social impact. The need of the hour is to become good problem solvers and the gamut or problems that is being addressed by designers independently and also in cross expertise teams, is huge these days.

Here’s an interesting presentation that I recently came across that talks about the 100 things to watch out for in 2012. I am confident that designers would play a significant role in many of them too.

Some ugly truth on UX

Came across this really intriguing presentation on the UX. The person is a UX recruiter, and has worked across geographies, with numerable people, or varied experiences and skill set.

View more presentations from Jason Mesut

The presenter does a great job of highlighting some interesting Truths an Dares. Having been in the UX field for quite some time now, I know recruiting it a big challenge to anyone dealing with UX professionals. To me subjectivity of the field is hugely responsible for it. And secondly, it is the notion of calling oneself a designer, just by learning a few tools.

I would soon be putting up a presentation on my experiences with recruiting in the UX field. Would love to hear from more people who are into it.

The rise of SoLoMoN

My recent talk at STC UX conference aimed to throw light on why everyone is a designer and is contributing to the co-creation of UX.

We user experience designers, live in exciting yet challenging times. From the rise of social networks, to the evolution of different devices and platforms, to our design decisions being governed by someone else, the excitement for the field is unbounded.
However the excitement also comes with its set of challenges. Design being discussed in the board rooms, poses a lot more challenges. While its an indicator that it is being given its long due value, it also leads to a lot of expectations.

This also allows that a lot of people start pitching into the design process. The rise of the adoption of Agile framework at work places, the decision making in design is starting to get faster and often without much thought about ideas.

Another phenomenon that is gaining momentum, is that with design gaining more prominence across projects, often we end up having many more people who need not be from a design background, to contribute to the designs. These come mainly from the Business teams, the technology teams or even the marketing teams. This is also corroborated by the fact that there is a rise of a lot of crowd sourcing platforms. Design faces a lot of challenges when going via a crowd sourcing platform. As a result of all the above, the UX field is undergoing a paradigm shift.

In a follow-up to my earlier article on Co-creating the User experience, I recently gave a talk on the same topic at the STC UX conference, held on 27th August at Bangalore. Here is the presentation that I used in the talk:

Involving clients in the design process

In one of my earlier articles, I talked about the need for Co-creating the User Experience, and in the article I mentioned that an essential part of the way to do that is to involved different stakeholders. (Read the article here) . I have been a strong proponent of it, and have realized it’s potential with every project I do.

Recently came across a very interesting presentation Frog Design on the need to involved the clients in the Design process. It is a wonderful presentation, with a great insight onto how to interact with clients, what stage to involve them in , and what we designers should expect from there.

Here is the presentation.