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How the Knowledge of UI/ UX has Become Inevitable for Professionals and Entrepreneurs Learning UX and UI design is a must to make any kind of meaningful progress in an exceedingly competitive and cut-throat industry

By Arun Kale

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Technology has evolved at an unprecedented rate in the past 15 years. From being the sole domain of computer and tech nerds, it has become an integral and indispensable part of everyone's daily lives, in both small and big ways. The way we use and relate to technology and access and consume information has changed drastically, more than at any other point in history, across all cultural, professional, and social strata. A lot of concepts, products, and ideas that were solely relegated to the realms of science fiction not so long ago are part of our reality right now-- and since they are such an ingrained part of our everyday lives, we tend to take them for granted.

This rapid evolution in technology and the advancement in human and machine interaction has resulted in radical overhauls when it comes to design paradigms, patterns, and principles as well, especially when it comes to digital mediums. Design has had to evolve to facilitate this evolution of technology and give people access to it without feeling overwhelmed.

India has been eager to adapt to digital systems and to a digital economy for some time now, but this eagerness has not necessarily translated into effectiveness. There seems to be a void in policymakers' understanding of what the current state of technology and design is, and how the two can work together to create rewarding and delightful experiences for Indian citizens and consumers.

Even so, when faced with a problem, most young people in the country will most likely ask the question: is there an app for that? Is there a digital service or tool that they can use to solve a problem? Terms like 'artificial intelligence', 'virtual reality', 'big data', 'conversational interfaces', and 'algorithms' are thrown around casually in everyday conversations, and yet there seems to be a gap when it comes to really understanding what the implications of these terms are.

Mention 'UX design' or 'UI design' to anyone, and you'll come across a wide range of associations: some people associate 'UI' and 'UX' with the way things work, others with how the services they engage with look and feel, and many just use them as umbrella terms for everything from smartphone apps and smart wearables to code and numbers.

The truth is that we're now living in an age where everyone should have more than a basic understanding of how technology and design relate to each other and how they affect our lives and the work that we do.?

?For Entrepreneurs

There's never been a better time for entrepreneurs in India. The deep proliferation of smartphones in the country, both in cities and rural parts of the country, offer huge opportunities for business, and it is clear that no matter what your sphere of business is, you have to have a digital presence. It is no longer optional. Business owners now have unprecedented access to existing and potential customers, and the tools to leverage this access. A deeper understanding of how to communicate effectively via digital mediums and how apps and data can be built, analysed, and used better is essential and goes a long way towards ensuring that your business is successful. The time for shots in the dark is over.

For People in Advertising

Brand and content strategists know that the time for one-sided communication between businesses and their customers is long gone. People expect the brands they engage with to be, well, engaging, trustworthy, and approachable. Transparency is key. In addition to this, customers want to be entertained, they want to be treated to newer and more delightful experiences, which generate deeper and more meaningful associations with brands and companies. An understanding of how technology can be used to facilitate this--whether it takes the form of apps, or specialised content, or even interactive experiences--is crucial. And learning about UI and UX design can help strategists with understanding users better: what drives them? How can you better align brands' expectations with the customer's?

For Media Professionals

Technology has affected media in a huge way. News cycles have been severely shortened, readers' attention spans have diminished, and their expectations of the media they consume have changed drastically. News and media organisations around the world have spent the last decade desperately trying to meet these expectations without going out of business. They have been forced to innovate and embrace technology in ways that have never been attempted. For journalists, editors, and project managers in the media, a keen understanding of what makes users tick in this digital age is key, and learning UX and UI design is a must to make any kind of meaningful progress in an exceedingly competitive and cut-throat industry.

?For Policy Makers

For India to embrace technology in a way that truly enriches its citizens' lives, its policymakers must take steps to learn what goes into creating engaging digital experiences. Learning about usability, accessibility, and effective UI design, along with researching what people really want, and how to effectively deliver solutions to them, would bring us closer towards a truly Digital India.

?For Students

I've come across many students, across disciplines, who have vague notions about 'digital' being the 'future', and UI and UX design being useful skills to learn 'for the future'. That vague future that so many students imagine is a lie: that future is our present, and has been for some time now. If you're a student, no matter what subjects you study or what professional course you're looking to pursue, you would be doing your 'future' self a favour by familiarising yourself with at least the basic principles of UX and UI design, without making assumptions about what they are or what they involve. Learning UX and UI design is not about learning software like Photoshop or Sketch or learning to code. At the core of it, UX and UI both revolve around understanding people. What is it that makes them who they are? What are their motivations and lifestyle choices? How can you address these motivations and communicate effectively with them?

We live in exciting times and we are moving forward at warp speed. Without exception and without delay, we must learn to equip ourselves with the skills and tools required to take advantage of the new ecosystems that we're all a part of. The time is now.

Arun Kale

Program Director, Ecole Intuit Lab

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