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.

Why User Experience Matters – talk at Honeywell

Last week I was invited to the company Honeywell Technology Solutions, to give a talk on User Experience. I chose to touch upon the fact that User Experience is important and how every company should get a team for UX, engage with UX designers or atleast have the entire company believe in UX.

The topic for my talk thus was “Why User Experience Matters”. I loved the discussions that followed after the talk and was a great joy to see the participants enjoy the section on the Arial Vs Helvetica quiz. At the end of the day, everyone agreed that UX is important and how even small things like Fonts and Typography play a huge role in the UX process.

Here is the slide deck from the talk.


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?


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:

On Design Decisions

Interesting Video that I came across this morning.

Excerpts from the talk-
“The best designs come from not one, but hundreds of well-made decisions. The worst designs arise out of hundreds of poorly-made decisions. All that stands between you and a great design is the quality of your decisions. Where do they come from?”


Jared Spool – Anatomy of a Design Decision from User Interface Engineering on Vimeo.

Inspire and feel inspired

That is what happens at any event that I attend and give a talk. At the TEDxMANIT Bhopal, I had a good time. I felt inspired by the other speakers and performers and also I hope I was able to inspire a few with my talk.


Just love the amount of positive energy that each of these events bring along with itself.

Seen here along with Nakul Shenoy and Pradeep Ghosh, who were the other speakers at the event.

On being a Designpreneur

I have been out of blogging much for quite some time now.

It has been mostly due to the startup Deskala. We recently completed 6 months there and the journey there has been truly fascinating. During this period we have interacted with a lot people, and me personally got to know a lot more because of my photography workshops too. The other reason is the travel, which if something I just love, so cannot put an end to that too.

One of the biggest challenges that we have faced as Design Entrepreneurs, (Designpreneur) is to sell the service of design to people in the Business tea. And when this happens inspite of having close to 10 years of experience between us, it surprises me. My friend and co-founder of Deskala; Porus wrote an interesting article on this phenomenon, and what both the parties namely the Business and the Design team should work towards.

In my opinion, I think that its relatively easier to become a Designpreneur, but more difficult to sustain oneself as that. It’s easy, because right from the college days, one is designing and creating products and services. The innovations is happening then and there itself and its actually their first meeting with the entrepreneurial life. Now let’s see what happenes when that particular developed idea is marketed and sold properly. Viola! you have the idea for the company that you are going to put up.

The other big challenge that we have is to position Deskala as a design firm and not a development firm. There are already numerous firms who start off with software development and slowly add designers to the team.  As Deskala, we are going the other route, wherein we say build a design centric team first and then we move forward.

As mentioned  do not want to position Deskala as a Web Design or UI Design firm. With the founding team members hailing from different design and related backgrounds, i.e. Graphic, Product. Interaction Design and Research, Architecture, etc it is not justified that we stick only to the UI part as a service.

The journey as been filled with all possible emotions, but in the end it is been very satisfying!