User Experience in India and its many Interfaces
by Prabhasa kota — Posted on Feb 12, 2018
Design is a tool to simplify tasks. It is a weapon to defeat society's challenges.
Design is both the answer and the question. Design exists in a plethora of areas from industrial (cars, machinery, furniture) to art (logos, magazines, paintings) to photography, to anything you name. And, ever since we touched technology, design started to play an even bigger role.
In the recent years, global companies started to focus on creating better digital experiences that efficiently communicate and engage with its users effectively through their websites, mobile apps, user interfaces and product sites. Because, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.
Statistics show that first impressions are 94% design-related. This only goes to say why Digital User Experience is booming across nations and industries. But how far is India in this UX game? Are Indian companies welcoming the changed perspective about customer experience? Does it seem promising to invest in a good UX studio? Read on to find out...
Who is who? Breaking down the roles of UI & UX design
To understand tech design in its true sense, let's turn to the father of innovation - Steve Jobs, "Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
The way in which we connect with any product is by pure experience design. Take Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for example, these are social networking products that we intuitively interact with every day.
Right from effortlessly scrolling through the organised feeds to instantly checking your notifications, from uploading multiple pictures or videos to adding filters, every step of that experience is designed by 'User Experience Designers' and 'User Interface Designers'.
UX designers are responsible for 'how a product feels', 'how a product effortlessly flows from one step to the next', 'how one interacts with the product logically & intuitively' and ultimately makes the users 'fall in love' with the overall experience.
"It is not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and, yes, beauty to people's lives."
– Don Norman, Author of The Design of Everyday Things.
UI designers are responsible for 'how the product is laid out', 'how each screen or page looks' and consequently take charge of 'how the overall product is visually capturing and communicating what the UX designer has charted out'.
UX or UI designers are not the same but many companies have started to merge the roles as they weave their responsibilities into each other's. 'Do me a favour. Kill the term UX/UI' is an eye-opening article that will help you understand how the two roles are different with a fine line running between them.
The stages of creating a better user experience
An integral part of helping UI & UX designers create magic is Usability Testing.
The tests help understand a user's behaviour, collect both quantitative & qualitative data, evaluate the user journeys by testing it with representative users and also explore several unique design approaches to solve a specific user problem.
An effective Usability Testing ensures optimum customer engagement and helps businesses create the best customer experience for their products. It's not surprising that 86% of client-side marketers use or plan to use usability testing to improve their conversion rates.
Understanding the journey of UX/UI is the first step to choosing a good UX partner.
For example, this is the basic process involved in creating a beautiful website experience:
- User Research: To understand user needs, behaviours, perspectives and empathize with the user. Collecting data from a significant portion of people in the real world rather than a generic everybody.
- Site Structure: Gamut of information broken into logical parts, simplifying navigation and bringing clarity into the big picture.
- Wireframe: Ideas are gathered into a concrete form, skeletal framework is charted out with intuitive interactions, relevant feedback is incorporated.
- Mood Board: Arranging images, references, styles, colours and fonts in line with the overall brand/product personality and emotion.
- Visual Design: Pushing the pixel through a lot of refining, iterations and capturing a true visual experience for the brand.
- Usability Testing: Finally, the hour of truth through testing on actual users, iteration, modifying and creating the 'best' website experience.
The whole process dovetails design, efficiency, effectiveness, simplicity, innovation and technology. Statistics show that judgments on website credibility are 75% based on a website's overall aesthetics in addition to its functionality.
The next time you book movie tickets or shop online, pay attention to the details of how your experience changes from one brand interface to the other. Now, that's your hand-on-course on user experience.
Now that you've got a hang of what UX/UI deals with, you might be interested in knowing how Apple made 'Your face the interface' for its new iPhone X.
Craving for more? See the world's most important interfaces of 2017.
Riding the global wave of experience design
Several companies across the world are embracing the significance of having a dedicated UI/UX designer working with them. This in turn is causing a wave of growth to lash onto the user experience communities, globally.
The UX market, from the perspective of both the customers and clients, is booming as people realise the bounty of business benefits they offer. Did you know that the revenues of ESPN.com jumped 35% after they listened to their audience and tweaked their homepage?
Every company or brand seeks to receive valuable business solutions that assure great returns. They expect the UX designers to not just provide solutions but add value to their business that turn into profits.
For these reasons, the need for a dedicated usability testing lab is crucial but most companies prefer to outsource the same to get unbiased results.
Understanding user behaviour
Good UX services demand both time and money to be invested by the clients for the initial User Research. This research would tackle the primary twin-question – 'Who are our users?' & 'What do our users want?' before jumping into design recommendations.
Because, the underlying goal of any user experience practice is to understand the user better and deliver intuitive solutions that satisfy their needs in every digital window they use. Studies show that 90% of people use multiple screens sequentially and 85% of adults think that a company's mobile website should be as good or better than their desktop website.
For example, the popular brand Fitbit has a mobile app that connects with its fitness trackers to enable its users to keep track of their fitness levels. Their mission is to get people moving, a herculean task which can be achieved only by changing a person's habit. Here's a detailed study on the UX of Fitbit conducted by Stacey Wang, a product designer.
While we are on the discussion of mobile user interfaces, it's crucial to note that mobile users in India are growing, thanks to increased and improved mobile content. Read this Nielson case study on Mobile User Behaviour in India to understand the scenario better.
The great UX journey: customer & company
Right from Google to Swiggy, every brand seeks to deliver a 'great' customer journey by identifying verbal and non-verbal obstacles that a user faces so as to refine, iterate and finally create the 'best' user experience.
For both the customer and the company, great User Experience is a continuing journey rather than a final destination. Every repeat customer is increasing a company's equity and the reason may not always be good after-sales service.
A great customer experience starts from the click of a mouse and doesn't really end. The company/brand must constantly engage with its users at various touchpoints and only the brands that successfully capture them make a real difference.
That's why it's not wrong to believe that 79% of people who don't like what they find on one site will search for another site to complete the task. The most effective sites are usually the ones that fulfil both functionality and aesthetics.
UX heads at some of the world's most iconic brands believe that design is a process of constant iteration. So, with every tweak in the user interface design, there's a user obstacle that is wiped out and another milestone achieved in the customer UX journey.
Apple vs android? comes down to the user experience
Talking about iconic brands, don’t you just love the Apple ads? The simplicity and sincerity in design of not just the phones but also the way you use the phone?
An Android user, are you? Then imagine the number of times you swiped through the pure Android experience, customising every aspect of the phone.
Ask yourself, "Why do I love going back to the same product or brand?" Because, every time you experience something new and wonderful, you seem to crave for it more and more. And that’s what companies are giving UX designers the stacks of cash for!
Delving into the indian ux design drama
With the advent of multinational companies headquartering in India, these new departments of UI, UX, Visual, Product & Experience Design are spurting every day.
India as a country wasn’t exposed to the benefits of user experience and having a great customer journey. The surge in globalisation of retail, finance and technology gave rise to ‘conscious-customers’.
They were conscious of their experience and demanded quality & efficiency in every step of their product interaction. But in India, the more complex something appeared, the more appeal it had. Simplicity was a new school of thought that emerged around the new millennium.
UX in India: Niche & Nascent
Post 2000, several user-experience and research-oriented companies began identifying themselves with the globally-aware customers and offered services to engage users and address user needs.
As years passed, customer engagement became a key department of difference in every organization. Today, there are countless designers and engineers working in the UX realm, offering business benefits to their clients, every day. But still, the scope of Indian UX is in its nascent stage and has a huge untapped potential.
To get a feel of what the buzz is in the Indian UX scenario, there are several online communities that curate UX/UI stories from across the Indian states. ‘UX India’ is an active forum part of the online publisher Medium, where Indian UXers and Design Thinkers share their thoughts, writings, reviews and analysis about using Indian websites and apps.
Did you know that many Indian UX companies don’t provide the entire gamut of UI/UX services and only a few experts deliver the whole usability lifecycle? This further creates a gap in the market where niche UX shops are opening doors to companies seeking the outsource path.
Awakening of the indian consumer
In the recent years, Indian businesses’ focus on two primary things: Customer Acquisition & Customer Retention. The mantra in every brief to the UX designer is to achieve those two focus goals. But how does user experience address this you ask?
UX is most effective when it floods through the whole customer lifecycle, through all the customer touchpoints that a product has.
Take for example, how once a consumer buys into Apple’s philosophy, they convert into Apple Aficionados. Right from staying updated about every product they launch to owning every product range they offer, Apple fans around the world are loyal patrons, thanks to their overall experience as a user.
But when it comes to Indian companies sharing the same brand fever, we are light years away. Have you booked a flight ticket on makemytrip.com? It would have taken you a few easy clicks to navigate through the website, a couple of scrolls to choose your flight through the logical filters and finally a tap to pay for your tickets! Fantasy, a world-famous UX and UI Design Agency in San Francisco and New York illustrates (quite literally) how the future of airline websites should look in this beautiful video: https://vimeo.com/70750886#embed
On the other hand, imagine booking a train ticket on indianrail.gov.in The minute you enter the site, you are already lost. Forget checking your seat status and getting a ticket, you would prefer to book your tickets through agents or at the counter rather than online.
UP AND ABOVE: THE GROWTH OF UX IN INDIA
Some global UX designers understand the role each element plays on a website or an app and delegate it the right responsibility. They seem to know what works for what business and how. India is yet to learn all the ropes when it comes to effective User Experience. And, that is why it is imperative to give it all the attention it deserves.
A plethora of UX & UI opportunities exist in every industry, especially in India. Just compare a few Government sites to private company sites. Then think about being in par with the global Government sites and ultimately the international private sites’ standard.
An example would be booking movie tickets online. Bookmyshow.com is a simple website with easy navigation, search filters and necessary movie info that makes it convenient and easy for the user to use the website or the mobile app.
But to really ascertain the UX standard we need to aim for, we need to turn towards our global counterparts. To give you an idea of how designing a better user experience changes a brand’s equity, let’s look at a case study on Cinema City, an European equivalent to PVR & Inox.
This simple illustration shows that the potential of UX and usability in our country is tremendous. We have a huge gap to fill and there’s surely a wide growth path for UX/UI in India indeed!
Nurturing the UX/UI future: will india dance to the demands?
With clients and customers both demanding brilliant brand engagement, UX/UI design roles will always be in demand. There are many specialised UX studios cropping up in the country every day that deliver customized customer experience solutions to every kind of client.
On the other hand, IT companies in India are integrating their software-development lifecycle with UX services. But there are many more who create a niche space for themselves in the market by specialising in specific usability services. Few top services include:
- User Research
- Heuristic Evaluation
- Ethnographic Studies
- Info Architecture
- Visual Design
- Front-end Developing
- Product Design
The future of UX in India looks sharp, no doubt! India being a developing nation with a plethora of businesses cropping up in the blink of an eye, creating products specifically for the Indian market is a new ball game.
It requires a broad and narrow understanding of Indian users and their local perspectives. The main reason why many companies are investing in UX partners who understand the Indian culture and deliver unmatched experience design that is both pleasurable and profitable.
That said, the nascent UX scenario in the country needs a lot of TLC (Training, Learning & Cultivation) which is why employers and UX professionals should help the fraternity to grow through seminars, workshops, domain specialisation, educative sessions, interviews, discussions, global connections and sharing knowledge.
The UX market in India will continue to expand as more and more customer-experience benefits spring up. You will be surprised to know that India is yet to discover the massive untapped potential in the UX realm, especially in finance, product design and legacy software.
So, the next time you visit Amazon or Myntra or any website, spend a few more minutes observing why pop-ups pop up at a certain place or why the product pictures attract you the way they do or why do some sections appear highlighted than the others or why you keep falling in love with only some brands and not all!
Finally, we’ve found ‘x’ and the answer to the problem is UX!
At Winktales, we apply research-driven processes and frameworks to design and better the user experience of your products. We approach design with the user at the heart and work for the future.
About the Author
Prabhasa Kota, Co-founder & Director, WinkTales
Prabhasa started his career and entrepreneurial journey with WinkTales, he loves to share his experiences on starting up and sustaining in the volatile start-up industry as a millennial entrepreneur.
Special thanks to Mangala, Senior Copy Writer, for contributing her Research and Inputs.