My Musings: One year in Design
It was 33-degree Celsius on 21st April of 2017, however, it felt even hotter that day in Kochi. I had finished drinking coffee and was helping a student solve a problem on ‘Collections’ in Java, I got a call from the HR of Divami Design Labs, telling me that I had been offered a role as a User Experience Designer. It has been more than a year since then, and it won’t be an exaggeration if I say I have been a true user’s advocate ever since.
This year has been full of learnings and revelations and a few among those are:
- I learnt to embrace the multifaceted nature of User experience Design: To be honest, this was one thing that made me fall in love with UX design. I have always had an interest in multiple fields and somehow wanted to converge my knowledge to build something meaningful. UX Design draws from Psychology, Business, Technology, Cognitive Neurosciences, Social Sciences, Anthropology and so much more. I learnt to embrace this diverse nature of the various fields and started drawing parallels to my own work and design processes. I tried to connect the dots between User Experience Design and Cognitive Neuroscience. (Cognitive Neuroscience: A Doorway to better UX design). I wrote about how cognition can shape UX (Human Cognition Principles that could shape UX), and also talked about how culture and geography play a role in UX Design. (Geography, Culture, and UX Design)
- It’s okay to not know everything: For the first two months of working here at Divami, I was all over the place. Trying to learn as much as I could and had a minimal practical understanding of things. I had subscribed to multiple design courses and was reading a lot of design articles every day. One day, my manager told me, it’s okay to not know everything. UX is vast. “It takes years to master”, she said. At first, it sounded absurd but in hindsight, I was immature and eager to prove myself. My advice now, to fellow new UXers is, “Give yourself time, enhance your communication skills, take ownership of your work, and be enthusiastic to solve problems, you will find your way”. I am not saying design principles are not needed. In fact, it is the very basis of design but like I said other things are important too and deserve equal priority.
- Learning to deal with Clients: The amount of exposure that I get here at Divami is fantabulous. Two months into the job, I was asked to design a high-value kids app. The founder of that startup is an accomplished entrepreneur and had huge expectations in terms of designs. I did manage to deliver great designs with the help of my team but did not handle the communications with the stakeholders as well as expected. I have improved a lot since then, I have communicated with clients across domains such as logistics, cloud, finance, etc. How did I improve? I think being clear in communicating my interaction decisions on time helped me scale up. I briefly and clearly tell clients my design approach and take any feedback positively. A balanced prioritization of the user and business goals also helps me make the ideas of my client executable.
- Learning from my peers: I had a wrong notion of myself, thinking that I do better as a lone wolf. This notion was demolished when I closely worked with other designers on my first few projects. We brainstormed on user journeys, pain points and making the experience seamless, and the sheer quality of the ideas that we generated, inspired me. I might not have thought through all of those if I would have done the user journeys alone. Now, I discuss work with my peers regularly and the insights that I get are usually great. We tend to have a lot of discussions but in the end, all of us believe in delivering what is best for the user.
I realize that though this is a fantastic beginning for me, I still have a long way to go… I intend to upskill myself as a full stack designer over the course of next few years and at the same time enjoy the great process of Interaction design. I hope to attend more meetups, do some more design courses, read and write design articles more often and keep learning from my peers, mentors, and managers. Here’s hoping for the best, fingers crossed and excited for the unknown!