All Posts in Design

November 22, 2017 - No Comments!

Top 10 Design Books to sharpen your skills

If you're a designer, these books will help you get into the finer details. Click To Tweet

These are not books for beginners. The assumption is that you have some orientation towards and an accumulation of design sensibilities over time. That said, it's not that beginners will not enjoy these, but the idea was to help those who are already practising designers appreciate a few finer nuances. Some of it just boils down to refinement and acculturation. But that's what design truly is. An appreciation of cultures, values, systems and the human condition. And the application of that appreciation and the learning from it.

More so in pictures than in words, here goes—

Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students (Design Briefs) by Ellen Lupton

Design as Art by Bruno Marari

Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte

Org Design for Design Orgs by Peter M and Kristin S

Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior by Indi Young

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

Bottlenecks: Aligning UX Design with User Psychology by David C. Evans

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humakind by Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change by Charles Duhigg

The last few might seem like they have nothing to do with design. But culture, and evolution and diving into "why" we are the way we are as a species is very core to good design discourse.

Here's to Happy reading! Feel free to drop a note and ask any questions you might have.

October 27, 2016 - No Comments!

With the onset of IOT, designers play an extremely important role

Picture this: You are a designer working with an IOT product. You're a champion of the user. Marketing is writing great copy and selling the promise of how easy it is to connect to your wifi, bluetooth and to the cloud. You want the user to quickly get on to using the product. When you empathize with the user, and build something that is a smoother experience for the user, you end up creating defaults. That tunnel vision (albeit well-intentioned) causes implications which could easily have been tamed with thorough design and systems thinking.

Read a few more thoughts about How to Design for the Internet of Things.

September 24, 2016 - No Comments!

What does the future look like when machines take over?

The hope is that they are ethical, and that they follow Asimov's laws of robotics and are kind to humans. Hope aside, let's think about what might be the real implication of all humanity allowing machines and artificial intelligence take over all rote and repetitive menial tasks.

The purpose of one's life on earth—take it for what it's worth—is the survival of the species. But there's a catch to this. It's the survival of the species that is best suited to survive. Is it a cybernetic species, or is it a sentient artificially intelligent species? Is it super-intelligence?

There's been a long drawn debate around direct correlation between intelligence and morality. One school of thought has maintained that the higher the intelligence, the higher the moral values of the entity possessing the intelligence. However, not only has US researcher Howard Gardner suggested that correlation between intelligence and morality is highly unlikely, but you can totally assume machines not coming anywhere close to being moral with the increase in intelligence, real or artificial.

You can totally assume Artificial Intelligence not coming anywhere close to being moral. Click To Tweet

While everybody is thinking AI would mean self driving cars eventually, we may still be surprised how soon abilities assumed by AI will tremendously outperform any human. How long do you think it will take until translation by machines will be better than anything humans can do? Same with Math.

Think about it. Look at the scale of progress around us. Most of scientific and technical progress that we have made as a species is just in last 200 years or so, in 3.8 Billion years of life on earth, and about 2.5 million years of humanity.

As Nick Bostrom says in his book, it might only take less than a month for AI to go from Village-Idiot-level General Intelligence (AGI) to Einstein-Level-and-Beyond Super Intelligence (ASI).

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What do you think humans will be able to call their own?

Picture this. You're having salad, and a friend asks how the salad is. You answer "Not bad". The meaning of something being not bad in that context means so many things at the same time. It means good, okay, bearable, fine, I'm English (Queen's English) and many things in between. The day when AI picks up the tab on your salad, you're done.

Big time.

And here, done means 'finished' not completed. ■

September 22, 2016 - No Comments!

Economics and Design

[Originally published under the title Benefits of Better Design/Hindu BusinessLine]

When User Acquisition Stops, Retention happens through ease and consistency of Experience. Click To Tweet

As economies of scale allow for higher quantities, prices reduce. As demand increases, prices increase. The equilibrium is a point where supply and demand curves intersect and an acceptance to sell at a certain price point emerges.

Price Setting for Attention and LoyaltyHowever, in reality, many companies are (and yearn to be) price-setters — targeting in on people who will pay more for products having superior qualities.

And what is the price we’re asking here?

Attention. And loyalty.

To retain users, you need reliability. Don’t have Asparagus in stock one day, fine. They’ll go get it from your competition. You’ll get screwed over if you don’t have it often.

What if you’re a marketplace? You clearly don’t have control over the behavior of the merchants and their inventories. You’ll build systems for quality control, and separate the wheat from the chaff. That’s basic hygiene, every one of your competitors will do that. Remember that you’re a medium, a channel, a means. Make it easy. Make it consistent. Make it the first choice. Make it indispensable, but not because of the goods your merchants carry. But because it feels and works like the most natural way to get to those goods. Predictable and a source for subconscious relief. You can’t go wrong with Mac and Cheese. That familiarity, that’s key. Busy office goers might not chow down chicken wings for lunch, but may get a Soylent shake and some granola bar instead. That’s functional. Convenient.

Look at whatever users have got today — they have a favorite grocery app, a soon-to-be-favorite e-commerce app, perhaps another get-a-helping-hand app. Sometimes they might have two of a kind on their devices because they want to fill the gap created by one with the another. But one of them is what they open first — that one clearly won the battle of retention, of attention and loyalty.

With better design, users will be willing to pay more. More attention. More loyalty.

Snappy, non-fussy, checkout. ■