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.


Embracing Failure

Designers are one lot on the planet who are often subjected to face failure. Many of them however do not take it in the right spirit. Call it the ego that drives us, or the question to our subjective viewpoints, either ways it is something that is not right and needs to be taken with a light heart. It is something that when seen as a constructive criticism thing, can do wonders for the growth of the designer.

I remember when I was in my final year of my design education at IITG, in the seventh semester, I failed miserably at a course that was worth 24 credits. That was perhaps the largest setback that I got. But that was just academically. There are numerous incidents that one comes across as a professional designer that exposes you to failure. It could be a result of a client interaction or a misalignment with the views of the team you are working with.

Every incident made me realize the value of embracing failure in its true spirit. I started to talk more about it in my talks and lectures that I gave to varied audiences across India.

On Failure

I am of the firm belief that Design education today needs to build this aspect of Embracing failure in the school itself. I often talk to my students about this and in the last Final Diploma project class, we had a nice discussion around this.

At the end of it, we fail because we are Humans, and Designers by virtue of designing everything that is Human Centered, it is but natural that we would be exposed to failure. The sooner we learn to embrace it, the better it is.

Also I feel that, this spans not only to designers, but to a . . . → Read More: On Embracing Failure

Interactive Design Trends for 2013

Recently I came across this very interesting slide deck on the trends in Interactivity and Interaction Design for 2013. It is a very nicely done presentation.

Definitely worth a checkout!

Trends in interactive design 2013 from Prophets Agency

The T shaped UX professional

Recently a friend shared an article on how the term UX killed Usability. The article per se was (in my opinion) a personal opinion, with a lot of pointers signifying the same,  from a person who is passionate about Usability, but the article also raised a very valid point that I often try to drive across in my workshops.

From the article “Usability as a term is pretty much dead and has been replaced (not very well) by UX, meaning user experience.”

This statement reminded me of the numerous discussions I have around this. Here I put down a few reasons on why I think the above is happening.

I think this is a classic debate that has been going on for quite some time now. I have often addressed this point in a lot of my workshops and insist that now it all comes under the umbrella of UX. I have often proposed that we address ourselves as UX professionals more than anything else.

While earlier you could be an Information Architect, or Usability “Engineer”, or Graphic Designer, or User Interface Designer separately, these days its more about knowing (and excelling at one or couple) a gamut of skills.

I think the UX professionals are the most T shaped professionals (as outlined by the McKinsey & Co) . Though the arms of the T these days are too wide! Spanning from Design to Business to Technology!

This UX driven approach is also evident when I did a lot of recruitment for companies. While you want the candidate to be strong at one aspect, either Usability or Interaction Design or Graphic Design, you do intend to look if they have other skills. And that recruitment drives have often led to a lot of professionals present themselves as UX professionals.

I . . . → Read More: The T shaped UX professional

The Social Media Fatigue – Life in the Information Economy

We live in interesting times. Did you know that many people now access their Facebook profile the first thing in the morning and It is difficult to communicate with some people, because they are not social media savvy.

In an interesting info-graphic of a recently published research titled “How Social Media is Ruining Our Minds“, it was observed that, over the course of the last ten years the average attention span has dropped from 12 minutes to a staggeringly short 5 seconds. That’s right! Just 5 seconds! People around the world spend close to 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month, and there handling over 1.6 billion search queries per day on Twitter and 250 million tweets per day (Oct 2011). Those are huge numbers!

In such times, there ought to be better strategies for Social Media engagement for individuals as well as business. Almost as prevalent as blind social media evangelism is the level of fatigue and ennui around it.

Driving social Media or being driven by it ?

Understanding the Why

Information as the building block for Social Media Platforms

In my opinion, one of the key influencers of the Social media phenomenon is around the word Information. In an article first published in 1995, advances in computers and data networks inspire visions of a future “information economy’‘ in which everyone will have access to gigabytes of all kinds of information anywhere and anytime. Ten years from now we may find the economic institutions of the information economy a similarly unremarkable part of our day-to-day life. (The Information Economy: How much will two bits be worth in the digital marketplace? – Hal R. Varian, 1995).

I would like to believe that the Social Media is a direct consequence of this information economy and its main drivers are . . . → Read More: The Social Media Fatigue – Life in the Information Economy

The new Hero Moto Cop (Hero Honda) logo

A lot has been going on in the corporates, with many tie-ups and mergers. These activities are resulting in a lot of identity being changed and new ones being formed. Change is required for a company to grow. And identities are often a key part of the entire makeover process.

Recently Hero Honda went through one such change, and has now re-branded itself at the Hero Moto Corp. It also introduced its new logo.

Here’s the design brief for the logo design :

“The new logo stands for the new face of India – that youthful energy and ‘can do’ spirit. It is in true sense the “Indian Catapult” which signals that while it is deeply rooted in Indian values, it is also poised to go for global expansion – a Leap of Faith.” 

The new Hero logo

My initial thoughts on this was definitely not positive, as the logo as such was a bit difficult to comprehend. The logo is definitely contemporary, especially with the font it has used. But then that was the case with another recent logo fiasco, the Airtel one.

This new Hero Moto corp logo has two components to it. One is the graphic part and the other is the text / typographic part. The graphic part in this case is a 3D one.

The beauty of this logo is that it is simple. It’s easy to reproduce. But thats about it. I have more things to say that are not in its favour.

The problem with 3D logos that play with the concept of positive and negative space is that often it is un-noticed. And even to experts, it becomes obvious only after spending some time staring at it. So it is not surprising that many failed to notice the H that is . . . → Read More: The new Hero Moto Cop (Hero Honda) logo

On Design and Aesthetics

Aesthetics is one of the most subjective words that you would come across when you are in the field of Design. The theory on aesthetics in design has been widely discussed in various circles, from artists to philosophers to other researchers. I firmly believe in minimalism , and the art of saying more with less, and it is evident in my liking of the products from Apple.

Over the years of working in the design industry, I realize that ‘Aesthetics’ is a word I end up using often in my discussions, critique sessions, and meetings. It is important to understand that it is my personal sense of aesthetics that is being said through me. One of the mistakes we designers often make is that we end up expecting the other people’s aesthetics sense to match ours. It would be ideal if it did, but it does not happen that way. what is appealing to one person will in most cases not be the same for the other. What works out is a consensus that allows the aesthetics to be judged objectively. This is harder than it sounds. Often it could lead to endless discussions, ego clashes, internal conflicts etc.

One of the designers I admire is Dieter Rams (the man who defined functional design, and is best known for the design of the Braun products) . His ten point agenda on design basically sums up to form a Design bible of sorts.

In one of his interviews he talks about the issue of aesthetics. Here is the video and should form a basis for a good design discussion!


. . . → Read More: On Design and Aesthetics

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.

Making Clients Part of the Design Process View more presentations from frog


The Pure font

So, Nokia has decided to let go of its iconic font the Nokia Sans that adorned its handsets and website and other materials for quite sometime, and replace it with Nokia Pure.

Nokia Pure (image courtesy – http://brandbook.nokia.com/)

Here the entire suit of fonts to see.

Nokia Pure-all in family (image courtesy – http://brandbook.nokia.com/)

I love the fact that they are really putting the word usability at the core of things.

The move could also be seen as a step to to align its branding with the decision to move to Windows Phone platform, where they use the Segoe WP font.

Also got to see this video from the Font Designer’s workshop where the font was created! Super video this one!

PureReversal from Build on Vimeo.

An interview with Tim Brown

Here’s an video of IDEO CEO, Tim Brown and his thougts on Design Thinking and in particular on its potential in India.

Interview – Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO – WEF 2011 – Davos, Switzerland from Aabhira Aditya on Vimeo.

There are multiple interesting points that he talks about.

Timeline cue: Design thinking and India (1:00) Design,innovation and entrepreneurship driving India’s inclusive growth (1:58) Transdisciplinary design education (3:43) Design thinking and designers (5:18) The scalability of design thinking (7:13)

Of late there has been an increased focus on the word Design in India. There are lot of discussions on the DesignIndia forums and also a lot of designers making their voices heard. There are a couple new design magazines that have been launched and that just shows that the market is definitely opening up to it more.

Signs of good times ahead. I hope.