United we stand and siloed we fail!

Kindergarten gospel we learnt, industrialisation debunked it and now it is time to brush up again!

Most of the MNCs may be out peer pressure or genuine views have changed their approaches to solve business problems.

Design thinking, Agile journeys, Experience teams, Innovation labs etc they have it all. This is all good and it is reaping benefits, even if not to the maximum.

But with silos running deep in the culture it is futile to expect impactful outcomes from these efforts. The department may be equipped but at the crossroads where it touches it all falls apart and there are no takers for the fallout as it is in no mans land!

With innovation department which is another silo there are renewed efforts to bring new views to the table. But this structure is complementing the silo thinking and not breaking it. 

Yes it is good in a way the dinosaur companies can speed up with the startups. 

But what is needed actually is restart culture. Unless the core is shaken and stirred the silo thinking cannot be dissolved.

That would be true transformation, rest all is wardrobe fad. 

UX and swimming

I am learning to swim 🙂 I was trying to swim 10 years back too.

But this time it is easier and I have managed to make significant progress. I am doing it by my own. No tutors or classes. So as I am gleaming in my self proclaimed achievement, I wondered why this time the experience was so rewarding and here are my notes –

  1. I wanted to learn for my own sake
  2. I practised the patterns
  3. I create my own template for the pattern.
  4. I tested what I have learned and practised so far.
  5. I updated my templates as I was live testing.

Viola ! I know to swim.

This may sound like an agile spirit rather my swimming lesson. But that what it is! Apart from being my passion and my source of bread UX is now teaching how to learn new tricks 🙂

The important distinguishing factor is that the user is motivated. Learning – UX can move mountains if they are motivated.

The second would be – I worked on the swimming patterns to the limit of creating a memory for my hand and leg muscles. And when the muscle memory was strong there was no friction in learning. Learning – Muscle memory rules. UX patterns should leverage this memory.

Most of the times while working on design projects, the client insists on creating a new design just for the sake of being a path breaker. This causes friction for the users trying to explore it. Seamless experience is the most important aspect of interactive design. It should  be realised that interaction patterns are just a way to achieve a goal and creating a new patterns should not be deemed as the goal.

Learning – Create a friction for the users and you will find yourself drowning if not gasping for breath!


The customer is never at fault, but who is listening?

The Citibank branch near my house shut down and I wasn’t informed!! Not that I could have done anything but as a courtesy they should have for the brand they are. Any ways Hong Kong is transient so be it HSBC or CITI or salon or PARK n SHOP or even schools you have to move to affordable places.

So one day when I was pressed for money and I needed to find the ATM. Citibank HK has collaborated with JETCO and I had seen the boards at many banks in my lane so I rushed into one of them. Bank of China – I entered the card in the slot and get a bilingual screen saying the ‘processing’. The next second to my horror the interface was in Chinese. Can you imagine that?? There was a cleaner in the room and obviously both of us couldn’t understand each other!!! My heart sunk it was one of those moments when you are so numb but you still act with a reflex (thankfully).

Luckily for me the bank representative arrived, she told me that for the English interface I have make an application to the bank to change the language setting! I was like ‘Thank you very much but my card is in the damned machine can you help me please’ with the most precious twinkle in my eyes. She agreed and my ordeal was accomplished.

This was Bank of China so I thought it was justified for the ATMs to have Chinese interface. I got my money so I was less inclined to investigate further and also my next challenge was waiting for me – to find a taxi!

Then after somedays I was again in the same situation but I thought of trying a different bank – Bank of East Asia. This was a standalone ATM. There was a lady already at the kiosk, probably she was taking a log time so the man ahead of me left muttering something to himself. I felt luck that I was the next in line. Very confidently I entered the card, was happy to see the English processing screen but then again it was the Chinese interface! I got a jolt the same one when you get when you think you are lucky and but in the guise erring the second time! Precisely WTF moment. I turned around to see if there was any angel behind me but I was alone. Now I was truly in deeper mess.

I told myself, not to panic. I am the customer and I can never be at fault! And to my surprise I managed to use the ATM by my own self. Don’t know whom should I thank first my muscle memory, my grey cells or the guiding angles! I was triumphant and now I have the confidence / audacity to use such machines again.

There are many learnings in this story for me as the user, for the bank as the brand, for any UX designer who is sensitive towards such everyday frictions.

Certainly, such scenarios can be avoided but what is the learning when the user has hacked the systems and his triumph is more important than the ideal experience?

BTW, more recently I have found a button for language change … thanks to my son

Look within

Sometimes I like to go to the server room and plug and unplug the wires (… and co-ordinate with India office) It gives me great joy when my actions results into something positive (wifi connectivity) and I feel challenged when it happens otherwise.

Yes I am quite human at times and I like to go on ego trips J

Rest of the times I am firefighting … resolving design issue required for the survival of an idea (if I am allowed to)

But I like this bare and live environment…wherein I get cautious of my actions but also am empowered to be fearless and take the risks.

‘Never say die’ is the core of startup. There is no place to get judgmental. But it is a place for all the mentals … who love their challenges. Yes surely you have to have some degree of insane passion towards problem solving.

Back when I was working with the MNCs everything was served on a platter with rules and lot of bureaucracy. It really sucked and killed my motivation to work and enjoy work. I quit finally. Made baby and voila life was full of challenges J

But life cannot be anchored on someone’s challenges. So as my little one is discovering new things every day, I have set on my journey, my calling to solve and make a difference…user experience. Yes it is my passion and also my livelihood.

Piece of a cake?? No way …some times each day seems like a Wednesday … but still have I liked to get back to work.

So what have I learnt? Life will throw challenges… you challenge yourself… codes will not work, users will not turn up… trends will change etc. …grrr   we will not have control on many things in life. But we can surely be in control of ourselves. We can continue to inspire ourselves to reach the goal and look for more goals every day.

It is not about hardships but it is about our endeavors so …

Raise the bar, shine bright and embrace tight.

Learn to startup and coz it is within you.

I thought that ux can save projects …hell what? It can save humanity.

(Its a long title, but I needed a catchy one)

UX is about listening, understanding and being worried about how things can be made better.

As we solve experience problems with lifeless wireframes …there are so many experiences in the real world that need to be sorted for humanity sake.

As we inching closer to the digital world some best practices are to be created for the most sensible creature. What do body gestures mean? What does a choking voice mean? Soon we are going to forget all of it …since science says we become masters of what we practice more. If we are glued to the digital interfaces what can be expected of us? Sub conscious we are applying the digital paradigm to the real world…we are forgetting to live.

Insanity is existent and growing with varying degrees. And what is the fodder for it ? We just wont listen but want to be heard. To top it up we have the digital tools…that give instant gratifications. We are becoming impatient. We are becoming the masters and slaves of this digital ourosboros.

A person was killed by a mob for spreading a rumor about cow being slaughtered for beef. What! Can this be real?

IS is planning revenges and the super powers are planning vengeances. Or it is vis a versa.

Some armed men just enter public places and open fire at innocent people.

I am sure there would be many examples and each will be more dastardly in some way.

If only compassion and empathy are taught in schools the world would be a better place. We would be bothered about giving better experiences to everyone around us and voila world would be a better place to live.

So if it affects you, listen to it… since now is the time to teach some sensibility to the sensible interfaces.

Mumma, I like this car!

My son is a little more than two years old.

We had gone to his swimming classes. His daddy went on for changing his clothes and the little one just went on daddy daddy. Couldn’t bare his separation with his dad i guess. I tried to divert him and climbed down the stairs still waiting for daddy.

And then he saw some red object peeking behind the wall. The red that nobody can miss…the very famous red ….the Ferrari red.

And things just changed… Wherein I was holding his hand and trying to pacify him…he was now dragging me …mumma come mumma come.

From top to bottom to left and right he was devouring the car. Of course there were other cars too…and then he dragged me to Porsche Boxster!

And he forgets about his daddy and now probably is not even listening to me!

Design appeal is so important in physical objects…mainly because you can touch it. The sentiments are high since you can own it and you can belong to it. Although I am surprised at what age, appeal starts affecting the conscious. And also it intrigues me how the appeal is gender driven… most young girls of my son’s age having different motivations.

Ahh! suddenly when it comes to digital, the scenario changes. At every opportunity the brand wants a new device, new interaction, new experience causing so much disconnect and clutter…very unclassic approach towards design …sigh!

UX helps those who want to help themselves

Yes is it almost like god. You see it, you don’t see it but it is always present…guiding and shaping future actions.

As I work and continue to find and solve UX challenges…I often see instances wherein it is hard to convince people on the obvious advantages and values of UX.

Frankly speaking I don’t even try to explain to them after checking their aptitude for UX. It is good for them to burn their fingers, reinvent the wheel and loose important time.

I believe that each one of us have to experience things by ourselves. Everyone has to fall their fall…that’s when the learnings will be memorable and experiences worthy.

…the rolling stone…

The innocent Past —

Looking back, it is interesting to know how UI has grown and out grown usability. Then it was the conservative world and relating ‘experience’ to the outcome of interaction was not heard of.

The cliché Present —

Experience is a marketing need. And with the term marketing we unleash the boundaries of experience. It should no longer be restricted to UI.  It is now in all the customer touch points. It is now the ‘customer experience’ and to be specific it is about the ‘delightful’ and positive moments.

As we are now in the middle of this vicious cycle, every time we craft a new experience we are raising the bar. ‘No rule’ is the only rule.

Going parallel with this evolution is data. Customer data is now bigger and better and also device ecosystem has grown many folds.

Still in the nascent stage today are the allied technologies that require minimal user interface i.e. NFC payments and the QR codes.

The exciting Future —

Android, Apple and Microsoft will continue to play a vital role in the customers’ digital life. The device ecosystem will get stronger and stronger.

Since the devices have their closed ecosystems and also they have their UI and OS rules set, it will leave less room for UI ‘experience’ till the point everything becomes drab and boring.

(Raised eyebrows) So I am saying that I will be jobless???

NO! I can’t imagine myself doing nothing 🙂

So, till the time UI experience is taking a break….customer experience will be flourishing under the ‘internet of things’

Here I come 🙂

and what did I buy?

SASA is the most common cosmetics shop chain in Hong Kong. You will see one SASA in 100 meters range. It is so common that it can’t be a landmark!

So my task was to buy cold cream for my little one. As I entered the shop I get bombarded with brand visuals, displays.

There are so many brands under one roof that surely you can spend a whole week trying to discover new ones. Obviously I had / have never heard of these brands and so I was perplexed what to buy.

Suddenly like it happens in TV commercials 🙂 my mind raced back to my childhood days when we used to put liberal amount of cream on the lips almost to have white masked lips. Then it went back to my teenage days when I had seen my cousin use the same cream for my nephew. And the most recent memory I had was of case study in MICA MDP class.

All summed up I bought Nivea for my babu 🙂 in the original blue tin box. This decision superseded my choice on Johnsons because of the adverse media reports in India.

It is thick cream so it is not easy to spread unlike the new versions of it.

But it doesn’t matter, as I left the shop it made me think ‘who is at loss?’

Just like human relationships, building brand relationships is so important. It all comes in full circle if you are genuine.