My Product Design Fellowship Journey - Jyotsna Rane

Jyotsna is a Product Design Fellow from cohort 1 of the Fellowship where she has worked on projects in the Fintech and Healthcare domains under the mentorship of Aprajit Kar (Product Design Head, Gojek) and Vikalp Gupta (Product Designer, Obvious). She has joined the ownpath team as a Product Designer after the fellowship.

My design journey began in 2013 when I enrolled at NIFT Bangalore. In my four years at college, I explored various media and honed my skills in digital design but have always found myself more drawn to brainstorming and researching design solutions and that made me want to explore the world of UX design.

I’ve worked for popular clothing brands and more recently, Myntra’s brand Roadster. Working at Myntra, I experienced the potential of technology and design in making people’s lives easier. For example, Moda Rapido, a Myntra fashion brand, leveraged data from designs sold on the platform. With the help of AI, they were able to generate colours and patterns that were popular. This cut down production time from the usual 180 days to a mere 45 days. This changed the way I looked at design and made me want to explore the intersection of design and technology.

This inspired me to expand my contributions in realms broader and bigger than just fashion like B2C digital products; which have more touch points and more scale than just fashion. I started by picking up core functional skills that this role would require. After going through a bootcamp, I started getting extremely excited about designing consumer products. As I started interviewing, I realised that what I had learnt wasn’t enough and I needed a mentor to help me figure out the next steps.

A friend who knew my journey had recommended ownpath’s fellowship program to me. It stood out for me because of its curriculum and mentorship. Until this point, I had gained my UX knowledge from the internet and a few MOOCs. Having a design background definitely helped me learn the software, and I particularly enjoyed crafting a well designed UI. But my foundation was shaky for defending my design decisions. The feedback that I received while interviewing gave me insights into the gaps that I had in my design process. I didn’t know how to fix it myself, and this is where ownpath’s curriculum and masterclasses came in.

I wanted to work on a problem statement in a space that was new to me and had tremendous growth potential. After evaluating a few options, I zeroed in on a FinTech problem for my first project - Coinwise, Making Finance Easy for GenZ. Coinwise takes a gamified approach to learning about finance, with stories, quizzes and rewards. With this project, I discovered that I tremendously enjoyed talking to users, understanding the core emotions and motivations behind their actions.

Shivani’s masterclass on Psychology led me to explore more about habit forming behaviour (trigger> action> reward).

Abhinit’s masterclass on Delight changed the way I look at it. Delight isn’t just about well-designed screens or micro interactions, it can also be about turning negative emotions into positive emotions and this is what we tried to do with Coinwise under Aprajit’s mentorship.

Almost all the users we had interviewed while scoping out the initial problem statement had one common “regret” when it came to their finances - “I wish I’d known this earlier”, i.e., they wanted to have started learning about personal finance a lot earlier. This got me curious about why is it that despite knowing the importance of money in life, very few put in effort to learn and understand it, specially when they’re younger.

Over the course of two months, we brainstormed multiple ideas, figured out key behaviours for users and planned our features according to those behaviours. We were bogged down by the complexity at times, but Aprajit’s feedback ensured that we stay on track. He never told us directly what to do, but questioned us in ways that helped in clarifying things for ourselves. Sometimes, I was overwhelmed referring to finance-heavy literature but all that reading helped me in empathising with the users and eventually writing the UX copy for our app.

We were bogged down by the complexity at times, but Aprajit’s feedback at every step of the way made us stay on track.

The program was intensive. Going through the material before masterclasses was crucial in helping me connect the dots during class and also apply those learnings to my projects. Whenever I found myself stuck, I often came back to these reference materials. Initially, balancing masterclasses on the weekend with project work was challenging. It was a little tricky to coordinate and find a time that worked for all the project partners but we soon developed a working rhythm.

Demo day brought back memories of college juries. We had to present our design work in front of a panel of senior designers and mentors whom I look up to. It was an amazing experience, and I needed that boost of confidence.

Learning about the challenges in the rural Indian Healthcare system from a fireside chat with Daniel Burka, got me intrigued in exploring the healthcare space for my second project. The nature of the domain is vast and complex, and with the current situation, it was challenging to do first-hand user research.

However, Vikalp (Mentor for Project 2) helped us narrow down our scope, navigate this space and nudge us towards finding potential gaps in the current system. We zeroed in on a problem statement related to first aid during road accidents. We even explored a speculative angle to this problem space- which was a fun exercise! Doing this process for the second time was far easier, and I could take confident decisions without constantly second-guessing myself.

Being a part of this fellowship has re-ignited my curiosity, made me feel comfortable with uncertainty and really trust the design process

The last four months have been jam-packed and seem to have gone by in a flash. Sunday morning masterclasses, office hours, fireside chats with designers (Such as learning about urban design from Ankit Bhargava, the fascinating world of book design by Ragini and more) all of them helped me truly broaden my horizons as a designer, making me realise that design is not limited to just screens.

Being a part of this fellowship has re-ignited my curiosity, made me feel comfortable with uncertainty and really trust the design process. I’ve learned how to break down a complex problem into its basic components and figure out the best way to solve it. In this process, I’ve rediscovered my love for design, stepped out of my comfort zone and learned so much.

As the fellowship drew to a conclusion, I started interviewing with companies in the fellowship’s hiring network. I was looking to be in a company that would constantly push me to improve myself, in domains like education, fintech and healthcare. The companies I interviewed with, included ownpath too and I chose to accept their offer as it was an early-stage startup that was in a space that I loved and had a team that was encouraging and familiar to me already.

Like someone once said - ‘Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination.’ And what a journey it has been!

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