On October 15, 2013, Net Solutions hosted first of its kind event, “Design Thinking – Desirable, Feasible & Viable”, in collaboration with ProductNation, a platform to nurture and grow the Indian startup product ecosystem. ProductNation is the brainchild of Avinash Raghava, an evangelist for Made-In-India Software Products who contributes actively in building towards a healthy Product ecosystem.
The event was focused on describing the role of design in driving meaningful innovation and change, and how startups, organizations and individuals can bridge the gap between thinking and doing or making ‘Design’ happen.
Significance of the event
User experience (UX) design has heterogeneous interpretations, not only among businesses that are looking to deliver great user experiences to their customers, but also among designers and agencies that provide UX design solutions. Though inadvertently, in most cases user experience is used as a catchphrase for usability. In other scenarios, UX is perceived as UI design, which limits the entire scope of user experience design.
When we come face-to-face with such perceptions about UX design, even from experienced designers, it’s not hard to figure out why so many user experiences don’t turn out to be delightful. And both startups and tech giants are equally susceptible to these UX misconceptions.
So the questions that we need to ask ourselves are:
- Is there a need to redefine user experience design process?
- Do we need to rethink design?
- How can we think through a problem from both design and business perspective and create remarkable software products?
These are some of the pressing questions in the UX realm that were answered during the event.
As a matter of fact, conducting UX design events and workshops is the first step that we can take to spread awareness about user experience across the design community and digital products development teams, especially startups. Unless we change the perception of user experience design, we can’t deliver enchanting user experiences.
The Event Walkthrough
The event was specifically focused on inspiring design thinking among Indian digital startups that constantly cross paths with the sub-sets of digital design, including User Interface (UI) design and User Experience (UX) design.
Following key activities were conducted during the event that exposed the attendees to new UX concepts and fresh approach to UX design:
In addition to the event, a workshop was conducted, which aimed at explaining the UX design process, in detail, keeping the ‘Design’ aspect of UX completely untouched.
The focus was on the Discovery and Conceptual Design phases, not the Detailed Design phase, which comes into picture much later.
According to the experts, the Discovery phase gives a deep and intuitive understanding of the elements that condition the design work. Similarly, Conceptual Design helps us visualize and reach consensus in the strategic and conceptual design direction. These phases target on activities such as:
- User research
- Stakeholder interviews
- Persona creation
- User mental models
- User journeys/ User maps
- Functional requirements
Some short exercises were conducted based on the above activities that helped participants understand the value of seeing things from users’ perspective and identifying their needs. If we perform these steps correctly, everything else falls into place. And quite surprisingly, most UX design projects don’t focus on discovering user needs and conceptualizing a product based on those needs.
Talks by Design Experts
In addition to the UX workshop, the guest speakers gave some inspiring talks on Design Thinking and discussed some innovative UX concepts. Here’s a summary of the talks:
Good typography cannot be handcrafted anymore – was the theme of the presentation “Beyond Arial, Times New Roman, and Comic Sans” given by Himansh Khanna, Founder & Designer at Sparklin. Himanshu focused on the role of typography in user experience design.
He explained how typography is the art and technique of arranging “type” in order to make a language visible. Following key points were highlighted during the presentation:
- Why we need typography
- The balance between visual and verbal language of design
- How typography has changed
- ‘Type’ as a powerful visual language
Design Matters – How to achieve a stellar user experience
In another presentation on “Design Matters – How to achieve a stellar user experience” Nishant Jain, CEO, Design For Use, explained the critical balance of Usefulness, Ease-of-use, and Emotional appeal in design.
Nishant focused on how we can utilize Design Thinking to solve our business problems and what is Viable, Feasible and Desirable design. He made it absolutely clear that design is a process, not just an input to the development process, which is still the perception among a considerable number of product development teams.
Thoughts on Design
“Needs more love and other ramblings” was the title of the presentation given by Angad Kingra, Former Head of Design at Zomato. Angad’s take on design was both as an Art and Science. He emphasized upon the process of building digital products and why we shouldn’t rush into visual treatment of any product.
Some of the key highlights of the presentations were:
- Find answers to ‘Why’ and ‘Who’, before ‘What’
- Know the rules first, and then break them
- Don’t underestimate your customers
- Focus on people and their problems
- Design is everywhere, making things better for people
Angad concluded the presentation with a strong statement – “The life of a designer is a life of fight against ugliness”.
The entire event was a breath of fresh air for design professionals who gained expert insights and came face-to-face with intriguing revelations about Design Thinking. The event reiterated the importance of understanding and designing for user needs, to build remarkable digital products.
In Designing for People, Henry Dreyfuss writes “when the point of contact between the product and the people becomes a point of friction, then the [designer] has failed. On the other hand, if people are made safer, more comfortable, more eager to purchase, more efficient—or just plain happier—by contact with the product, then the designer has succeeded.”
Remember, a pleasant user experience might get unnoticed, but a poor user experience always gets highlighted with dissatisfaction and denial. Therefore, think ‘people’ before ‘design’.