In Conversation with Praveen Pundhir

UX Manager at Coditas

Born in Bareilly and an ardent lover of butter chicken, Praveen had always leaned towards his creative side. But it wasn’t until he came across a certain chapter in one of his college books that he found his true passion. Read on to find out how…

Down memory lane

During his school years, Praveen’s family had to relocate from time to time as his father was serving the Indian Army. As the youngest sibling, he was the naughtiest, he claimed with a laugh. Being asked about his creative stints as a kid, he remarked:

“Every kid is an artist in their own way and so was I. But I used to hate art classes at school because I didn’t want to draw what the teachers asked us to. I wanted to draw whatever was in my mind. So, I was a little different from what teachers expected me to be.”

Beyond school

His primary plan was to pursue a BTech degree from a government institution but due to insufficient grades, he went for a BSc and later on an MSc in IT. And he couldn’t have been happier for this is how he stumbled upon his true passion — animation.

“In MSc, there was a chapter on multimedia, about animation and graphics. It really struck me as it seemed to match my creative perspective. That’s how I arrived at this field. At that time a lot of animated shows and movies like Tom and Jerry and Spiderman had come up. It was the beginning of the 2D and 3D animation era.”

Love for designing

Fascinated by his newfound love for animation, Praveen enrolled himself at Arena Multimedia for a course on web animation and graphic design while simultaneously pursuing his post-graduation. He moved to Delhi to complete the course and started working as a part-time graphic designer. Already curious about interfaces, he consequently shifted to web designing in the same company.

His answer to ‘What’s so exciting about designing applications?’ only goes on to show how passionate he is about his field of work.

“As a designer, you get to observe people interacting with the work you’re doing and whether it’s a laptop or a phone or a website, seeing your work in action motivates and gratifies you a lot. Design is a portfolio you can show to anyone, anywhere. It’s an online presence — It’s like, look at this website, I have designed it!”

Inspiration and challenges

“My sister kept encouraging me to pursue my dreams. Both my siblings being into academics, she pushed me to do something different with my career.”

Speaking about roadblocks, he candidly stated that even during the Great Recession of 2008, he never lost heart and kept himself updated with emerging trends and focused on learning new things which made his voyage a considerably smooth one.

Start-ups or MNCs?

Praveen feels that UI UX designers should always begin their career in a startup for the single-most-important reason — there’s immense scope for learning. 

“In start-ups, you have to be a jack of all trades and take ownership of your work. In MNCs, your roles and responsibilities are defined and you end up working on the same thing every day. In startups, you have to research, you work on a variety of things, even coding. For designers that would be converting your design into working HTML and CSS functions.”

So, does that mean designers should also learn how to code?

Like most designers, Praveen too agrees that knowing the basics like HTML and CSS is always an added advantage simply because you’ll have an idea about how your design will work on a browser or a device. It’s easier to come up with a technically feasible solution!

Pros and cons of the IT industry

There can’t be a better summary of the current situation in the industry: “People get to learn a lot by just sitting at their workstations thanks to always being connected to the Internet. But if they’re misusing this access, it really hampers the work they do.”

Life at Coditas

Praveen joined the family as a Senior UX Designer in 2018. In a span of two years, he has already taken up the role of a UX manager.

“My day starts with planning and prioritizing the goals we need to achieve that particular day and assigning work to the team accordingly. There are also a lot of client communications that I need to take head about the progress and priority of deliverables. Whenever I have some time to spare, I try to help my juniors with their challenges.”

To avoid losing touch with his design practice, he stays actively involved with the team’s ongoings, pitching ideas on how things could be done in a different way. He keeps ideating his designs on Sketch App.

But it’s not just the craze for designing that brings Praveen to work every day. Having worked with multiple organizations prior to Coditas, he never witnessed the growth of the UX fore into a dedicated team. After being interviewed with Coditas, he realized that there was a fair understanding of the value of UX.

“We’re always learning from each other. There are 25 people in the team and each one of them has their own set of skills and experiences. Some are good in research, some in typography, and so on. When you work at a place with a versatile team, you get to learn a lot. The management understands the role of the UX team very well. Because of that, we get the liberty to research-do-learn-improve and in the end, make top-notch industry-standard design.”

Praveen appreciates the fact that there’s no micromanagement at Coditas which helps the team explore their creative freedom. Even if they stumble at the first try, there’s a space to learn from the experience and make better choices.

An outlook of design and designers

Active in the industry for over a decade, Praveen believes that with the current pace of technological advancement, the entire methodology of design may change in a way that it will be based more on algorithms than on the present tools.

He goes on to state that although there’s been a drastic shift from print to digital media, it has changed mostly in terms of the capabilities of current devices and the Internet. The basics of design still remain the same. But nevertheless, designers, especially the younger generation, should keep an eye on how technology is changing and observe real-world behaviors so that they can come up with better products for people.

“Many designers claim that they are artists. But artists create art for their own happiness. Designers are a bit different. We design for people. We should think from that perspective and empathize with our users.”

Advice to 16-year-old self

“Keep your focus on one thing at a time and learn from your mistakes. Always work with and befriend people who have a positive mindset.”

Work-life aside, Praveen loves listening to Jagjit Singh’s ghazals as well as Punjabi songs.

As a person who kept seizing opportunities to invest in his passion, Praveen’s entire perspective of design was changed by ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ by Steve Krug (a must-read for all designers). Inspired by another design-oriented book, his message that speaks volumes about the value that designers bring to the world —

“Rather than relying on self-reported assumptions, designers look to observe people’s natural behavior.”

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