Or how I stopped working for my career, and made it work for me instead.

I’ve been asked this question a few times now, and each time it’s led to introspection that has shaped how I think of not just my past 12-odd years, but also the coming decades of being a designer. I’m sharing this understanding here in the hope that others may find it useful.

It’s a deeply personal process

It’s tempting to want one’s pay and prestige to grow constantly. However, incessant growth of pay and prestige should not be the drivers of a career. …

I’m sure you’ve felt it. As the Indian elections inch closer, the very air in the country is starting to feel rancid with animosity. It doesn’t matter what side you pick, because the acidic bile on both sides is equally caustic. No longer do we meet moderate, dispassionate people who want to treat each other with respect. All we have in our country now are people who are either the ‘far-right, modi-fied, radical Hindu bhakts’ or the ‘far-left, pseudo-liberal, quasi-intellectual anti-nationals.’

How did we get here?

Technology, yes. That’s what you’ll be told. The world, fueled by social media and technology, is speeding into a…

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/@sleyatx

People writing about Louis C.K.’s return made me think.

Jerry Seinfeld likes to point out that a joke is not real life. When someone gets worked up about a joke that was offensive to a group of people, he insists that a joke is fiction, and so, it should not be considered offensive.

I’ve long been an admirer of the stand up comedy industry, and have closely followed the careers of many comics. I have been a Louis C.K. fan since before he became a phenomenon in the comic industry. So it was natural for me to tune in as soon as news broke of Louis C.K.’s return.


A short story

The smile on his face was arresting. When he was at work, it may have been a spectacle to behold, with the mess of odds and ends spread around – starting from paints and pens to strips of wood, metal wire spindles and even some masalas. As an artist, he abhorred, among many things, being slotted or chained by his medium. However, even in the presence of this assault on one’s senses, what one tended to fixate upon, was his captivating smile.

He was not a particularly handsome fellow, nor was he blessed with a distinguished set of well-shaped molars…

Design and the serious lack of quantifiable accountability

In the design community, one often hears bold claims being tossed around about the impact design can have on a product, a business and the user’s life. Sometimes, there is evidence quoted to support these claims. This evidence tends to be an anecdotal retrospective of someone else’s success as a designer. It’s only a matter of time before someone mentions Steve Jobs, for example. It’s important for the context of this discussion to note that Steve Jobs was not a designer, but a businessman.

There are not many stories in Indian digital design industry that can live up to these…

The job of a digital product designer is not to generate out-of-the-box ideas.

A digital product is nothing short of a living being. It’s not a simple clock or a chair, it’s a complex, multifaceted system that has many moving parts at any given time.

However, designers of digital products still largely cling to an outdated understanding of their role — one which is rated on the quality of the ideas they can generate. They talk about lateral thinking and ‘wow-factors’, and frequently feel threatened when a good idea comes from somewhere else.

Design requires creativity, sure, but creativity must not be equated to out-of-the-box ideas. That’s trivialising it to just one specific…

Photo by Hailey Kean

But without putting up a performance.

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.

William Shakespeare, As you like it

Shakespeare’s words could not be truer today. We now spend more time on social media than we spend on even eating or drinking. Clearly, social media is important to us. However, most social media platforms have slowly evolved into places to showcase and perform, not interact. What we thought was a club has become an amphitheatre — one microphone on a stage in the front, while everyone else is seated around it, all of whom are on a higher pedestal than…

There used to be a time when being opinionated was a sign of intellect. Times have changed now. Today, abstaining from having an opinion for as long as one can, feels like the smartest thing one can do. Technology has gotten us to an insidious point in our life where our opinions, anguish and conflicts are sold for a profit.

Of late, there have been several issues that have grabbed our attention: demonetisation, jallikattu, TN politics, and elsewhere, Trump’s regime, ISIS, the French elections, etc. …

Photo by Tim Gouwe

A study of Snapchat as a toy

Gamification has been a buzzword in user experience and digital product design for a while now. In short, it quantified the idea of creating fictional incentives within the system to encourage and reward certain behaviour that was needed from users.

When one hears ‘gamification’ in a design discussion, one immediately thinks badges, points, levels, progression, competition and groups. These constructs are fun, and if done well, have their advantages.

However, while gamification is a great way to create fun in the experience, it is driven by an agenda. Having an agenda is good…

Recently, I had the good fortune of moderating the panel discussion on Connectedreams titled “Designing for the web and mobile” (if you missed it, you can watch a recording at this link.)

On the panel were Prof Anirudha Joshi (Interaction Design head at IDC, IIT-Bombay), Caroline Sinders (Interaction designer at IBM, Cyber ethnographer, photographer) and Vineeth Nair (Sr User Experience Designer at Salesforce). Talking to fantastic people always widens your horizons, and being able to be part of this scintillating conversation did the same to me. …

Milind Kaduskar

Interaction designer at Google

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