2016

As the year draws to a close, it’s time for the customary yearly review to reflect on the positives and negatives of the year. While the world can’t wait for 2016 to end, it was a great year for me, both personally and professionally. These were my resolutions for the year:

I’m glad to say that I’ve completed both the resolutions. :) I worked on numerous products this year, including an iOS app, an IoT product, a review system powered by machine learning, an asset management system for hotels, a product management app for developers, web app for a music service (concept) and web design for a furniture rental company.

The two products that stood out were UX Assist and Kitchen Sense. UX Assist is a simple iOS app that provides various design workflows driven by UX activities. It released in Jan end and since then has been featured in top 50 productivity apps in over 20 countries. The app also got featured on Product Hunt, Swiss Miss, Web designer depot, UX weekly, Designer News and Form. It’s still going strong, and the good news is that we will have an Android version very soon! :)
Related postsThe making of UX Assist, The magic of Product Hunt

Kitchen Sense is an IoT product that helps you manage groceries quickly. The product won the second position in Sequoia Designation this year. You can read more about it here.

I learned quite a few things while working on these products. Some of them might seem obvious, but you can miss them if you’re the only guy working on the product:

  1. Get your product tested by people you don’t know personally. While your friends and family can always help, you need a more critical eye for testing. You can reach out to the design community, and most designers are always willing to review the product for you. :)
  2. Don’t complicate your product by using too many third party libraries and plugins. Whenever possible, take that extra step and try to code a functionality yourself rather than looking for a plugin/library for it. It might sound counter-productive, but it helps when you have to debug or refactor your code. Code that’s not written by you will always complicate things.
  3. Don’t feature bloat your product. Keep it simple but useful.
  4. Be prompt in answering queries related to your product. No amount of advertising or marketing can beat good service.
  5. Be open to negative reviews.
  6. Keep learning! Don’t shy away from learning a new language or a design skill. I had to learn Swift and a whole lot of micro-controller programming for working on the products mentioned above. But it was all worth the effort. :)

It was also a very “social” year for me. I made quite a few connections with people working across different domains in the industry — from designers and developers to furniture designers, visual merchandisers, digital marketing specialists, photographers and some talented artists. We had many interesting conversations, and I hope to be working with them in coming years.

Books

This year it was a mix of fantasy, psychology, and design. Here’s my reading list for the year:

  1. Thinking, fast and slow (Psychology)
  2. Sprint (Design, Product Management)
  3. How to make sense of any mess (Design, IA)
  4. Magician — Apprentice (Fantasy)
  5. Magician — Master (Fantasy)
  6. Silverthorn (Fantasy)
  7. A Darkness at Sethanon (Fantasy)
  8. Hack Sleep (Self-help, Productivity)
  9. Uzumaki (Manga)
  10. Fragments of horror (Manga)
  11. Creating a data-driven organization (Data Science)
  12. Improving the user experience (UXR, Statistics)
  13. Quantifying the user experience (UXR, Statistics)
  14. Machine learning for designers (Design, ML)
  15. Real world machine learning (Programming, ML)

I am looking forward to reading a lot more of fantasy, history and design books in coming year. :)

New initiatives and hobbies

I invested a good amount of time in understanding various concepts in machine learning and statistical user research. It’s quite evident that ML and AI are going to shape future products and hence it’s important as a designer to have a good understanding of the subject. For starters, I highly recommend reading “Machine learning for designers” by O’Reilly.
Collecting and playing board games became a new hobby this year. My wife has gladly supported the hobby, and we do spend a lot of free time playing and arguing over the games. ;) We played the following games this year:

1. Jaipur (Our favorite so far)
2. Pandemic
3. King of Tokyo
4. Codewords
5. Tokaido
6. Robinson Crusoe
7. Friday
8. Onitama
9. Power Grid

We hope to add many more in the collection this coming year! You might also see a dedicated blog for tabletop gaming coming very soon! :)

My resolutions for 2017

  1. Make new things (Focus on smart home)
  2. Become super fit and reduce that body fat percentage
  3. Better financial management
  4. Read more books
  5. Start writing stories again

I’ve already begun working on these resolutions to build up the momentum for 2017, and I hope to accomplish them just like this year.

I hope to share many more experiences and insights with you in the coming year. Till then, enjoy the party on 31st and have a happy new year!! :)