[Techie Tuesdays] Isaac John Wesley's Journey from Canvas Artist to Chief Product Designer

26th Dec 2012
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Getting the right UI and UX for a digital product is one of the most difficult tasks to get done in the India. The “get-it-to-work” approach of a developer sometimes has its pitfalls as they don’t keep the experience of a user in mind while developing a product. In fact, it would be almost fair to say that the average product developer is ill equipped to make great designs and user experiences.

The ability to make digital products look good and great to use comes from the mind of an artist. Naturally tuned to design thinking, these artists, once equipped with the knowledge of digital design tools, make the best UI and UX designers and today's Techie Tuesday is just that guy. Coming from a visual communications background and a keen interest in digital design, Isaac John Wesley comes from a family of artists and is now weaving artistic magic as the chief design officer at WalletKit, a 500 startups company. Here’s Isaac talking on app design at DroidCon India 2012 -

Art, Films and Chief Product Designer

Isaac’s love and aptitude for art comes from his father, who was also an artist. “My father was a canvas artist and so was I. He also did a bit of digital work

and so I had access to digital design tools from a very young age,” said Isaac.With the mindset of an artist with digital design skills, Isaac was soon spotted for his talent in web design at college. “I did my bachelors in visual communication from the Madras Christian college. The course itself was more into the ad and film space, but I continued to use my skills as a designer. I designed for the college websites and soon picked up some freelance projects along the way.”

After a couple of projects, Isaac began to be known in the Chennai technology circle as a competent designer and in the process, he met his co-founders at WalletKit. “When I first met Kevin and Ramakanth, we had the perfect team right there. I was a designer and we had a Hacker and a Marketer in the other two.” This was later validated by Paul Singh’s trust in the team who inducted them into the current batch of 500 startups.

On Web and Mobile Design

Isaac speaks at many conferences on designing great user interfaces and experiences and has some interesting insights in this field. Here are 3 key insights on designing apps for mobile devices-

1) Think Web - Designing interfaces for the web is not easy. It gives users a binocular view and you have a lot more space to work on. Once you can do this well, designing on phones is relatively easy. Workflow and communication with users on phones is a lot easier on a smartphone platform.

2) Take art seriously - Good designers come from being good artists and an artist knows how to engage and to some extent, even fool users. Simple designs and attractive color combinations can help in getting your users to overlook shortcomings in an app.

3) Know your rules, then break them - Being creative and knowing design principles are equally important. Know everything there is in the design rule-book for a platform. This is the most important step in being creative as it helps you know what can be changed and what cannot. (As an example, he showed us an app where he uses a tab layout, which retracts while scrolling.)

One of the key reasons why western software products have a better design sense is because most designers come from an arts background. This isn't the case with India as most of the front end designers still come from an engineering background, who lack the much needed artist’s touch. Isaac is a rarity and we hope more design students take to UI and UX design.

You can follow Isaac on Twitter and check out some of his designs here.

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