• Sridhar Rajendran

Day 2 — Binge-watching online courses

Updated: Aug 23, 2018

When in doubt, ask Google

The best design is when you have nothing left to take away.

In my last post I mentioned the myriad activities I have tried over the years and successfully ruled out the stuff I do not like. I looked for three aspects in a job:

  • interacting with people

  • being creative

  • not being monotonous

When I was a coder, I would miss the mark on these parameters on most days. I took part in the social volunteering group or organising employee engagement events, to ensure my regular dosage of emotional needs. While this strategy was largely successful, there are moments when you think — is this the best possible thing I can do?

During one of those phases, I accidentally landed upon the domain of User Experience Design. To this day I do not know how I encountered it for the first time. I was taking personality assessment tests and career fit tests and UX randomly popped up. I never considered myself ‘artsy’ enough to be a ‘designer’.

For God’s sake, I am an engineer.

My first impression was it had to do with making things look pretty. But on digging deeper I realised, visual design is just a part of the domain and there were many other aspects that interest me. One of the advantages of merciless online tracking by Google is, your favourite topics pop up all over the internet.

Like a drug addict snorting neatly lined batches of what-not, I binged on articles and videos about UX. I read like the world was going to end and the survival of mankind depended on me being able to understand the different domains of UX. I read articles, books, and blog posts. I also signed up for a couple of free online courses on platforms like Coursera/Udacity/Udemy to figure out what the hell a UX designer does.

Image credit: The Big Bang Theory

Within 2–3 weeks I was mentally exhausted and could not read anymore. But like a true Netflix addict, I craved for more. Finally, I pulled the plug on learning and began to summarise what I understood. I mapped each of the sub-domains of UX with my 3 emotional needs and I had a clear winner — interaction design.

It involves meeting with users, conducting interviews, analysing behaviour and crafting prototypes. Best part, I need not do much of visual design. I squealed in delight at this part. I have never been very interested in graphic design since college. In retrospect, I realise having a basic understanding of these skills are very important. So if you are thinking of ignoring it completely, I strongly advise against it.

Not having good visual design skills severely limited my choices while looking for jobs. I am not suggesting every interaction designer acquaint themselves with typography and color theory, but learn the fundamentals and some shortcuts. It doesn’t hurt to look pretty.