Introducing Rama & Sapta

Ramakrishna V is a self-taught designer who is passionate about creating modern and functional designs that provoke human emotions. Currently, Rama is the Head of Design at Zeta— a digital platform to manage employee reimbursements. Prior to this, he was with Housing and Zoho. Rama has been an active contributor in Madrasters — Photoshop user group, Chennai.

Saptarshi Prakash, a born speaker and a great show man is a Senior Interaction Designer at Zeta. Sapta is also an ex-employee of Housing He’s a product of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He comes with immense experience in conducting workshops and has also spoken at HasGeek (a community that thrives on creating discussion spaces for geeks) on UX Choreography: motion design and micro-interactions prior to this.

Ramakrishna Venkatesan and Saptarshi Prakash aren’t a great duo only at conducting interactive workshops where they usually put up quite a show but, their chemistry roots back to being the best of friends for a long time now.

The 2-day bootcamp began with a quick introductory session with which we intended to break some ice. The attendees were required to introduce themselves by giving out their names, professional background and one interesting fact about them. We were extremely thrilled to have on board, a Batman who confessed his super powers, wildlife photographers, part time chefs and also non-designers who were keen to learn about designing, as attendees.

Post the introductions, Sapta took over and threw the basic question, “What is UX?” at the audience to which Ashwathi, a bright mind from the crowd gave an interesting answer that gave the non-designers an amazing prelude into the domain.

Ashwathi explained user experience with an example where she said, “Let’s consider a bicycle. The appearance of the bicycle that includes the look and colour of it can be seen as user interface elements and things that have an impact on the riding experience such as the gear shifts, and seat adjustments can be categorised under the user experience aspects.”

In response to this brilliantly crafted answer, the speakers underlined the fact that user experience is more about problem solving than design.

The duo then took over to set the context of the workshop and introduce user experience using case studies.

One prominently discussed case study included the evolution of design in ketchup bottles.

Sapta then explained how UX has got so much to do with the context and setting by discussing his failed attempt at making people laugh when he tried to narrate a joke from Biswa’s show he’d recently attended.

Budding designers were made to realise that experience is not something one can explain with a concrete product as the definition of experience is abstract and varies from person to person. That said, it was very well established that UX design is a domain that requires the designer to be extremely agile and thoughtful to be able to deliver best results.

Post discussing a couple of other interesting case studies that nailed the subject spot on in the minds of the attendees, the speakers set out to reveal their first activity where in the attendees were required to come up with a UX design for a microwave panel for a cafeteria user in a professional setting. The attendees were required to sketch the panel and share it with the team after having brainstormed thoroughly to arrive at a justifiable design. The designs and approaches were then discussed to arrive at the most feasible solution. Throughout the exercise the participants were conditioned with guidelines to take the right approach in arriving at the best design.

This activity paved way for all the participants to wear their thinking hats and indulge in the forthcoming activities that were planned for them.

Another interesting activity that was laid out for the prospective designers was to come up with a product that would help the visually impaired, date. Keeping in mind the challenges imposing a visually impaired person, the team had to come up with a feasible option that would allow them to find their partners. A lot of interesting ideas were popped during this round and a few teams were required to justify the approaches to their design which gave the others an opportunity to then think from different perspectives which they might have had otherwise ignored.

After having set the context so well, Rama and Sapta went ahead to dive deeper and share their insights about understanding the user, things to keep in mind while designing for a start-up, the art of slicing out and the Kano model. Most of the topics covered included a quick round of brainstorming based on the examples given by the speakers to ensure that the concepts discussed stuck in the minds of the participants.

On the second day, the participants were divided into teams of four and given a bigger task where they had to design a travel / financial app by applying all the concepts they’d learned during the workshop. This included conducting user interviews, weighing out what’s important and what isn’t, keeping in mind the models and methodologies discussed and finally the insights that popped during the brainstorming sessions. The design heads were around to provide help with anything that concerned the participants in accomplishing their objective. In the end, each team had a viable and feasible product ready. Rama and Sapta reviewed each of these submissions with the teams to provide valuable feedback.

The two-day workshop, in short, included a lot of thought inducers, real life examples, case studies, hands on exercises and group activities to make the boot camp utmost beneficial to the attendees in terms of value addition and practical expertise.

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Blog credits: Nikita Veerabhadraiah, Marketing at HelloMeets