DG: Hey Kiran, how have you been? How about getting started with a little intro?
Kiran: Hey Darshan, I’m Kiran from Goa. At present, I work as an Interaction Designer at BookMyShow, in Mumbai. I work on many side projects part-time, but working at BookMyShow is pretty much my main job.
DG: Goa is such an amazing place man, my personal favorite. How’s the design scene there?
Kiran: Yeah, Goa is a paradise to me. It’s always associated to relaxed vacations, but if you dig in a little deep, you’ll see that the startup ecosystem in the state is booming despite the odds. Design wise it’s a growing place, there are firms like Beard Design, Ajency.in, DCCPER, etc., which take UI/UX designing very seriously. A lot of other startups have been evolving with good design sense. Communities like StartupGoa and similar meetups are helping create opportunities and acting as a networking platform for young generation.
DG: How did you land up designing from pharmacy? Mind sharing your inside story?
Kiran: I can write a whole blog on how I got here, but to give you a brief perspective, I’m one of those guys whose father wanted his son to be an Engineer. I couldn’t crack the Engineering round so took up Pharmacy, since I liked Biology and Chemistry. I knew that I’ll do designing someday, but how I would do it? That I wasn’t aware of. I passed college and joined Arena Animation without even knowing what it was about. Spent 2 years learning 3D and working part-time as a mechanic. I tried learning a lot of design software during those 2 years just to etch them in my resume (Tip: Never to do that). Later to that I joined Helix Tech as a Graphic Designer, worked there for 6 months and moved to Ajency.in as a UI Designer. That was the place where I actually learned what UI/UX Designers do. From there I moved to BookMyShow as an Interaction Designer, where I now manage a team of UI Designers. I can take a deep dive in each of those experiences, but that’s a story for some other time.
DG: Lately, you’ve been posting a lot of interaction design shots on Dribbble, what’s the motivation behind it?
Kiran: Dribble shots are side projects on weekends, there’s not much motivation to it, but if I’ve to talk about an interaction, I feel design is the tool used best to solve problems and interaction is one of the sub-tool that can help achieve it. A lot of people have started trying their hands at interaction design, which is a good thing, but sadly very few people know why and how it is to be used. You can come up with crazy interactions and ideas, but an interaction is not a success if it can’t improve the design or help make the flow seamless. I’m not saying don’t think out of the box, but think from a user’s perspective, he shouldn’t be saying, “Wow! Nice interaction.” and then just forget about it, instead he should be addicted to the interaction without even being able to identify it, because your interactions come with a cost which the developer has to pay by spending more time getting it right. Also, it causes substantial increase in the size of the code, which ultimately lowers the product performance. So, the question you should ask yourself before getting your hands dirty with some crazy interactions is, “Is it worth it? Or it’s just for a wow?”
DG: Your Movie Booking onboarding and Airbnb interaction has been loved by many designers out there. How did you come up with those cool concepts? Given the detailing of the designs, how time consuming were they?
Kiran: Like I said, Dribble shots are projects that keep me busy on weekends. Personally, I’m not a big fan of those 2 shots because it’s just wow interactions, doesn’t solve any problem. The sad part is that there’s another interaction “Amazon bot in Facebook Messenger” that’s my personal favorite, which failed to drive much appreciation, reason being it’s not visually appealing. I like it because it’s simple and doable. There’s no crazy interaction, but the problem it solves is massive. Many of us use Instagram, the double tap action to like was not intuitive at the beginning but now everyone is addicted to it. it’s a killer interaction because you can browse through the photos and like it at the same time without even affecting the experience. Another example is of Pinterest’s long press, it’s so clean and effective. It’s an amazing interaction for cards which has multiple actions. that’s how an interaction should be, simple and addictive.
DG: You’ve been using both After Effects and Principle for prototyping and interaction design, what’s your take on them? Any key differences and similarities you would like to list down?
Kiran: Tools are just a medium to design your ideas. I don’t believe in good or bad tools, if you’ve the desire to put your idea in front of the world, you’ll do it in any given way irrespective of which tool you use. I’ve seen people making killer photo manipulation using MS Paint. Getting back to the question, I prefer Principle because it’s light and it’s meant for UI prototyping, but if you wanna do micro interactions then I’ll say After Effects is the best there is.
DG: You carry the experience of working in both agency and a product company. How would you describe these different experiences? Which one’s more challenging and fun to work in?
Kiran: Yeah, it’s totally different experience and I feel everyone should have it. So, if you’re a fresher or have 1-2 years of experience and if you’re hungry to learn, then you should join an agency. In product companies, your skill set gets polished. Hence, you should’ve a certain level of skill set to get polished, you don’t start from ground zero there. Another difference is that, in an agency you’re not attached to the product since you’re busy learning new things, but in product company you own the part you design, code or manage, which makes you more responsible towards the product.
DG: Lately and fortunately, we Indians have begun to realize the importance of design in the success of a product, what’s your take on it? Are we really getting there? How are we catching up?
Kiran: When I started my design career, there was no one to guide me, half of the time I was lost. There was very less knowledge transfer that used to happen, that too not from your colleagues, but your co-founders. Most of them were selfish and I wouldn’t blame them because that’s how we Indians get to the top and that’s one of the reasons why we’re lacking behind, but a lot have changed over the years. I’ve seen young designers sharing their views and knowledge to their seniors and they appreciate it. Designers are becoming more humble, thoughtful and responsible and that’s how designers should be. If we continue with this approach and attitude, we might get there in no time, since there’s a lot of talent in this country.
DG: Any thoughts on the importance of community in producing better designers?
Kiran: The community can be useful or useless, it can be a solution or waste of your time. One major challenge in talking about communities is, that it’s often confused with engagement, follow-ups or brand building, instead it should be none of those. Communities are the lifeblood of platforms that want to produce a quality product. Designers need to feel free to produce more for selected audiences, to create their best work. Communities provide shared context and familiarity. It’s interesting to observe how people could work, eat, think and create in the same physical environment.
DG: It had be really great if you could share some piece of advice for the young and forthcoming design enthusiasts.
Design for me is pure innovation. You can challenge anything with it and that gives you a chance of inventing something new. Tomorrow, you can say the spoon or a fork should not be designed the way it is designed today. You can come up with something new that can change the way we eat and that’s how you should think of it. Do something that can change the people’s life. The day you start helping people with your design, is the day you’ll be a true designer.
Rapid Fire Round
Interaction design is _____.
Design in Goa is like germinating seed in a fertilized soil.
Dribbble can do great if ______.
They focus on UX.
An evening at the design conference or a sunny day at the beach?
A sunny day at the beach where design ideas hit your head likes waves.
Favorite designers, if any?
Don’t have one, but I take the good stuff from every designer.
Perfect idea of a date?
It can’t be perfect.
I would go bonkers if _______.
Someone says, “Designers just make things look pretty.”
Old or recently updated Instagram logo? Why?
Old, because the new logo is vibrant and loud where else the interface is not.
A doped designer is ______.
Darshan is _____.
A good friend.
I’ve known Kiran from my days as a Visual Designer at BookMyShow. Long and dense beard, ever-changing hair-style, loud personality, he’s got his swag. Sure, he might not seem very friendly from his appearance, but he’s a great friend. Kiran’s that one guy with clear mind and focused attitude. He puts in a lot of thinking behind whatever he does at work. He’s been nicely managing his small team of designers at BookMyShow. I thank Kiran on the behalf of all the readers of this blog, it’s always a good chat with someone who belongs from Goa.
Are you a fan of solid UI and thoughtful interactions? I know you are. So, be sure to check out Kiran’s Dribbble for his awesome design explorations and his Instagram to keep in touch with him. He seldom writes about design on Medium, follow him there to see what he has to say.
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2 thoughts on “A Conversation with BookMyShow’s Kiran Shivlingkar”
I enjoyed this conversation. Thanks
Glad to hear that, Balachandra.