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How UX design has become a game changer for IT biggies and new-age firms

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The digital world is all about speed and experience. In this intensely competitive world, it takes just two seconds to decide whether a user will continue to engage with the interface or not. There are several studies which show that if a user is taking more than eight seconds to get that experience, it means there’s huge scope for improving the interface.

This is a critical reason why User Experience or UX design has emerged as one of the key factors for the success of any digital enterprise.

Apple's cult following is the testimony of what a good design can achieve in a globalised economy. At a time when several new age firms such as Ola, Uber, Amazon and Flipkart are betting big on rising internet penetration, UX and UI (user interface) have emerged as major focus areas to tap the internet-savvy millennial.

"’Less is more’ is the tagline in the UX design space, as we want to replace the clutter with simplicity and better customer experience. Whether it is designing an IoT (internet of things)-enabled solar pump or artificial intelligence (AI)-powered mobile banking app, user design is critical for navigating the function smoothly," says Hemal Gathani, co-founder of UX design firm ZEUX Innovation.    

The Mumbai-based enterprise counts ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, AU Small Finance Bank, IDFC First Bank, Reliance Retail, Vodafone and Discovery among others as its marquee clients. ZEUX Innovation, which competes with the likes of IT services giants such as TCS, Infosys and Wipro, expects this segment to grow manifold in the years to come.    

According to global business process services research agency NelsonHall, the global market size of the UX and UI industry is pegged at $5.3 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of about 15 per cent to touch $10 billion by 2022. Despite the nascent size of the Indian UX industry, companies such as Yellow Slice, Koru Technologies, UX Interface, Lazyeight and Parallel Labs are slowly augmenting market size through demand creation.

UX Design as a concept has its roots in World War-II. At the peak of the war, army strategists were mulling over how to reduce training time for fighter pilots. That's how the discipline evolved when a team of psychologists came up with ways to do so. "The cockpit had key controls, popularly called the ‘sacred six controls’. However, it was found out that these keys were scattered all over, making it difficult for the pilot to comprehend. As the first execution of UX design, these key controls were put on one dashboard," says Gathani of ZEUX Innovation.

While two warring nations, the US and Germany, were the major proponents of UX design during the 1950s, Bell Labs was the first corporation to set up a dedicated centre for promoting design thinking in product development. The UX space has since evolved. With the advent of smart devices and intelligent apps, each user design has to be synchronised with digital technologies such as AI, IoT or ML (machine learning). Such complexity has led to specialisation in skillsets such as software designer, industrial designer and web designer.

"Without a good UX design, the intended effect of any new age technology will not be realised. Because, UX deals with factors like human psychology and feelings, without which interface with technology will not have any meaning," says Sanjat Mishra, CEO & co-founder of Bengaluru-based design firm UX Interface.

When Google Play store has more than 2.6 million apps and Apple's App Store has about 2 million apps, almost every service provider is looking at providing the right kind of experience to stay in the game. Also, as AI-assisted experiences such as buying an article similar on one's previous purchases on an e-commerce site or selecting the cheapest flight become mainstream, UX design has to be synchronised for ease of use.

As UX design takes centre stage, no wonder Indian IT firms have also started making strategic bets on this segment. TCS acquired London-based design firm, W12 Studios in November 2018 with the Tata group firm seeking to scale up its digital design business. Similarly, Infosys bought London-based product design and customer experience company Brilliant Basics in 2017 to provide superior consumer experience as part of its offerings to clients. Globally, Accenture is considered the leader in digital design business -- an identoty that the company has built over the years with a series of acquisitions.

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