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June 22, 2009

Your Monday morning cuppa HFI buzz!

Visual treats

2. World usability day:

Narayan Gopalan, associate creative director, is definitely the

HFI partnered with Yahoo! to

man in the limelight. The World Usability Day 2008, the Digital

host the event. The theme this

Strategy seminar—these are just some from Narayan’s list of

year was transportation. We

projects that have been receiving rave reviews. Mark Cohen

created teaser posters, using

had this to say about him recently: “Not only is he a talented

in-house objects (cameras

designer, but his work ethic is off the charts!”

and toy cars on a map of Bangalore) and used our

In conversation with Narayan about his works and his working

illustration skills to put


together the collaterals. We also managed to get some

Bird’s eye view

advertising space at the

I work in the area of visual design/graphics. Work includes

airport – and used this as a

creating designs for websites from wireframes, visualizing

creative canvas to showcase

research into information graphics – making it easier for the


viewer to digest, and working on special events. In most cases I work along with CELs from usability, and contribute in

Work round the clock

the visual design of UIs and other deliverables. I also work on

A recent project with Mark and Doug reiterated the challenges

presentations, which using some graphic treatment can be

faced while working from two different locations especially

made a lot easier to read.

with a 10 hour plus time difference. But I think systematic

Pet projects

made this a smooth task. There is always a gap in responses

1. Digital strategy seminar with Jerome:

to feedback due to the difference in working hours, but that

planning, clear cut decisions and precise communication has

The aim of this

has been worked around by mutually adjusting our timings to

branding exercise

suit each other. The high points is always the enthusiasm

was to let the

from the HFI US office’s end.

participant take home an object that

My credo

would remind him of

I like working alone! I like organized systematic work where

the seminar and in

phases of the project are determined at the start. The

turn HFI. After

deadlines and timelines are set as mutually agreed by all. I do

exploring many

not falter on timelines and work toward producing the best

options we came up with a magnetic toy. This toy includes having magnetic tubes

possible given the constraints and time. I am practical and do what can be done to its best possible capabilities.

and metal spheres which together can be used to create interesting shapes. We found it a good metaphor to represent

Who’s not a researcher?

the content of the seminar. After procuring these toys, we


painted them the HFI brand colors and contrasted some pieces with a sleek silver. We then packaged these in boxes

My very first class. PRP in Mumbai. Not

with foam, and also had an insert explaining the concept

that I had not taught earlier. Rather, that’s

behind this gift.

the thing I have enjoyed most – “talk about

We photographed the toy from different angles – and used

things in order to own them.” It is so

that as a visual language for the collateral created at the

satisfying to see that glitter in the eyes of

seminar. The brochure, kit, pamphlets and the posters across

your audience, those widening of eyelids, as if someone is

the hall used the same language. This way we hoped the gift

opening the window of self to consume more of you.

would be a good reminder of the seminar without overtly branding the object.

Of course I was nervous! This was a different audience—one a director of a company, another the owner, rest were mostly

somras team leads and group leads. All these pitted against a poor CEL (btw, I am still searching for the centre)!

June 22, 2009

I feel actually at a deeper level both appear as one. Much like the opposites of night-day and yin-yang, research and

But there was one thing that immediately boosted my

design both are mere expressions of the singular urge, that

confidence. I realized that while my audience was surely more

is, to CREATE. And we not only create articles, we also

experienced, it was more experienced in doing things the

create our identities through them. We need our identities,

wrong way!

created continuously and persistently in order to continuously search the identity.

How did I know? From their questions! “How does research help in design?” Aha! What a cool question to start a

And both research and design contribute in this search. By

discussion in PRP!

the way where am I going with this? Probably I need to do

I turned the question around, “Are you a researcher?”

more research and importantly, design something to help the

The answer came, a big “NO”. “I am a designer.” I asked, “Very good. How do you get to know whether the

insight. So I shut up for the moment and let you think.

design is appropriate?”

To dad, with love

“I test it with users.”


“Excellent! Do you test with actual users? All of them?” “No. The representative ones, only a few of them.” “OK. So you select a sample. What do you do with the sample users?” “I give them some tasks to do on the designed system.” “All the tasks?” “No. a sample of tasks.” I felt so happy to hear my words from my audience’s mouth. “And do the users do tasks at their home, when they feel like?” “No. we have a test lab, we invite them and give them the

Father’s Day today has become a day to not only honor your

task.” “So you use a controlled environment. Very good. Now please

father, but all men who step into the father figure role--

tell me. How is it different from research?”

all honored on this day.

stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers and adult male friends are

“haan..hmmm.. OK…b.” A saw a good beginning and went full throttle. “So now that you are a designer cum researcher (cum

Mrs. John B Dodd, of Washington, first proposed the idea of

transliterated in Hindi means less, what a coincidence!), tell

her father William, whose wife died while giving birth to their

me, do you design by research or do you research by design?

sixth kid. He was left to raise the six children by himself on a

Wazzat?? I knew that reaction much before I had uttered the

rural farm. It was after Mrs. Dodd became an adult that she


realized the great love her father had shown in raising his

Aha again! I too was surprised at the beauty of the sentence I

children as a single parent. Her father was born in June, so

had just uttered. How true it is! We are not researchers, but

she chose to hold the first Father’s Day celebration in

research is what we do in order to design. And we are not

Washington on June 19, 1910. And it was in 1966 that

designers of products only; we design our research

President Lyndon Johnson officially declared the 3rd Sunday

experiments also. It becomes difficult hence, to identify

of June as Father’s Day.

a “Father’s Day” in 1909. She wanted a special day to honor

whether the research commands the design process or is it the design which leads research.

Just as carnations are a symbol of Mother’s Day, the rose became connected with Father’s Day. Some observe the day

We sure need a design (as an outcome) in order to conduct a

by wearing a red rose to indicate that one’s father is living or

research but then we also need research in order to inform

a white rose to indicate that he is deceased.

the design! So which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Or are they inseparable, both existing because of the other?

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers in HFI!

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Somras 2009-06-22  

22 June 2009