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Photo credit: Alex Xavier.

Design thinking often depends on the circumstances. The user experience of a mobile app for users in India, for example, may have to allow for poor connectivity.

It also depends on attitude. In India, for example, a jugaadu (hacky) mindset is extolled – often at the expense of scalability and replicability.

These are issues that startups are paying more attention to as they become aware of the nuances of design and their impact. And this was evident from a crowded meetup organized by Ladies that UX at the BHive co-working space in Bangalore earlier this week.

Entrepreneurs and developers had turned up to listen to Jay Dutta, who has had an interesting journey as UX design head of Adobe and then Flipkart before becoming a venture advisor for SAIF Partners. Jay proceeded to bust a series of design myths that he finds prevalent in the tech community.

Get the full lowdown on #TIABLR2016 here.

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Photo credit: Pixabay.

Myth 1: Design is a top layer add-on

Jay described an app called Scriptease he developed at Adobe. It was a tool for playing around with fonts to fit the design needs of different products, soft launched for user feedback. Except that it was not a real app. Scriptease had no code at the backend. It was simply a prototype with screens to see how users approached it.

Jay’s point was to use the many prototyping tools available to “test your mental model before writing a single line of code.” In other words, design comes before code, and not as an add-on layer on top.

Myth 2: Design for billions

At Flipkart, Jay ran into a pitfall designers often encounter when trying to visualize a massive user base. Everything was on a mega scale at Flipkart, from 1,000+ verticals to 35 million products and over 70 million registered users.

The problem with thinking of designing for such a large number of users is that it quickly gets depersonalized. It’s far better to think about one person, say your mother, and visualize how she would use that payment interface or find what she wants. Or you could think about how you would use it yourself, says Jay.

Myth 3: Design is about pixels and features

Product designers often get lost in a comparison of specs and features, forgetting the user’s evolving needs. Instead of the bells and whistles, a new product should focus on how it can bring about a change in behavior – and that is much harder, says Jay.

See: How to scale SaaS sales in a Red Sea

He gives the example of how Sketch successfully weaned users, especially mobile UX developers, away from Illustrator. It involved learning a new way of doing things, and Sketch was designed to bring about that change in behavior. That was the most important thing for the product gaining rapid adoption, and not just the fact that it was better suited for the mobile age.

Myth 4: Designers are rockstars

Jay talks about his experience of revamping Photoshop Elements at Adobe. The product was meant to be simpler than the main Photoshop, so that a wider community could use it for a variety of tasks. But over a period of seven years, it had become complex and unwieldy as more and more features and functionalities were added on. Now Jay and his team were trying to take it back to its simple roots.

It took two-and-a-half years of arguments and bouncing around between managers and designers for the revamp to be done, recalls Jay. So the reality is that designers are sometimes undone by their rockstar self-image. It’s a hard grind to convince stakeholders about the gains from a new design, and provide evidence for it. It requires careful stewardship for a new design to go from one point to the other until it finally sees the light of day.

Myth 5: Design is for users

UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) designers are so caught up with their nomenclature, says Jay, that they tend to forget that the user is a human. This is especially the case with B2B (business-to-business) products. “B2B does not mean the people using the product are not humans,” says Jay.

Design panel at Tech in Asia Bangalore conference

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Photo credit: Ladies That UX.

There’s a growing awareness that no matter how amazing a product, what matters is how it engages with users. That’s what builds loyalty and leads to success. And design plays a fundamental part in this.

Jay will be speaking at Tech in Asia Bangalore 2016 on July 6-7. Get your tickets here. Check out our special prices for local citizens!

This post Design thinking for startups: 5 myths about UX busted appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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