• Sridhar Rajendran

Day 29 - Swaying off the chosen path

Updated: Aug 23, 2018

The comfort of the known is alluring

Image credit: Pexels

Getting beaten down applying for jobs and freelance gigs took a toll on my psyche. Sometimes when things are not going well, there is a chance that the chosen path is not the right one. Or it is the dusk before the dawn. It is always tough to say one from the other. I considered going back to becoming a coder. I had an open invitation at my previous company. Life would be so much comfortable. Damn you, passion!

I brainstormed other options where I could use my skills as a coder and still do a bit of UX. I became interested in chatbots as a communication paradigm. As a designer, the challenges in getting the message and tone right excited me. I worked on a chatbot prototype a couple of months back. I didn’t do any coding. It was a UX project with static text. My aim was to figure out if chat would be a good medium for the scenario I had chosen. Given my previous interest, I thought why not focus on becoming a chatbot developer. I could have my cake and eat it too.

I spent 2 weeks exploring the different platforms out there for building chatbots — Facebook, Slack, Skype, etc,. I chose Facebook because it has the largest user base among the competitors. Plus there was a lot of demand for FB Messenger bots on freelancing websites. I brushed up my coding skills, learnt to use services like Zapier and Integromat to automate a lot of activities without having to code much. I know, I am lazy.

Image credit: GIPHY

I had a lot of fun. One day I would be stuck trying to figure out the error in the syntax and the next day I would be ecstatic when I solved it. The dopamine lifted my mood. I started bidding for chatbot development projects on Freelancer.com and UpWork.com. I joined several FB groups discussing how to build chatbots and monetise them. It was all exciting.

An article I published on building chatbots got some attention. I thought perhaps this was my calling. Once the initial high wore off, coding did not give me the joy that doing research or building prototypes gave me. I remembered the reason I decided to change my career. I am a good coder but it would never be enough. So, I decided to pull the plug.

Sometimes you need a vacation to pull your spirits up. My short stint building chatbots was that. I gave me back the confidence that rejections drove down. I will always remember it as a fond memory with a sepia filter. Maybe it might come handy if I work on a chatbot project in the future. But for now, it was bye to chatbots and back to layers, shapes and prototypes. Uff!