CUA of the Month – February, 2018

Naveen Mamgain
“Everyday as I commute to work, I observe the problems faced by train commuters and think about simple solutions that can help them. I strongly believe that simple changes can bring about much difference in problem areas. As a UX architect, I am able to analyze such problems, experience situations, and create solutions for them. To design a feature that impacts millions of people always excites me.”
Naveen mangain

Senior Usability Architect

CUA has led to my holistic growth as a UX practitioner

by HFI

Tell us about your role in your company.

I am a Senior Usability Architect with RailYatri, which is a start-up focusing primarily on product development for travelers, mainly train travelers in India. We are dedicated to solving travel-related challenges through innovation, analytics and thought leadership.

In my role, I am involved in defining experiences for new features through ideation, planning and execution. I also work on refining existing flows to increase transactions. My work has led me to develop a keen interest in gaining a deeper understanding of our users – the train travelers – and their behavior patterns. They travel in varied contexts and for different purposes, and hence have diverse needs – pre-, during, and post-travel. It’s important for me as a UX practitioner to understand my users’ needs in context of their travel so I can create relevant design solutions.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently working on the personalization of the RailYatri application. Users require different types of information during their travel and performs multiple tasks to get that. They have to initiate separate interactions for each such task. Our aim through personalization is to take the app user experience to the next level by giving users something extra, something useful without them having to ask for it. Users like it when the application takes care of them and shares the workload.

During the research process, we uncovered the travel pattern and user motivations and concluded that travel happens in phases. For train, we divided the trip into 4 phases (this number changes for other verticals like bus or cab). After usability testing of our concepts, we refined our designs further. The first phase of this personalization has been launched and we have recorded 2x growth in the interaction with positive feedback on the app store.

A Compuware study (2013) shows that anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of all downloaded apps are used once and then eventually deleted by the users, and this is escalating year by year. To bring down this number, we have optimized each step of user interaction—from the app store listing, download size, first launch, repeat user experience and engagement. All these steps have helped us in achieving drastic reduction of uninstalls of the app which is a great accomplishment for RailYatri.

How does the CUA training help you in your day-to-day work?

Before I took the CUA, I was aware of the design process and followed it in bits and pieces; now I have knowledge of the structured process of design. I have benefitted from learning the techniques of conducting user interviews and reporting methods of the findings. The CUA helped me understand different perspectives of a problem and what all methodologies are available to solve it. I also learned a very unique and helpful method called Primary Noun Architecture, which aids me in detailing out important tasks. I consider the interaction with the fabulous mentors, hands-on sessions and practical examples as additional advantages of the training.

How has this changed the way you communicate with your management?

Design supported by data is more impactful. Knowing how to collect meaningful data using different research methods makes communicating with the management more effective. A scientific approach and a systematic way to present it ensure that half your battle is won during the design review. This also builds a good case to insist that a completely user-centric design process be adopted from start to finish.

My CUA training has given me another perspective, which is the business perspective. Business needs are as important as user needs. The business vision must also be taken into consideration by the designers. In a nutshell, my CUA training has helped me broaden my UX thought processes, my core skills, trained me to communicate efficiently with management while understanding their vision, and made the experiences I create more useful, usable, and delightful.

What about your job excites you the most?

Everyday as I commute to work, I observe the problems faced by train commuters and think about simple solutions that can help them. I strongly believe that simple changes can bring about much difference in problem areas. As a UX architect, I am able to analyze such problems, experience situations, and create solutions for them. To design a feature that impacts millions of people always excites me.

One more aspect about my work that I like is the opportunity for collaboration. Being a UX practitioner, I have to coordinate with different teams across the organization, including stakeholders, product team, developers, testers, marketing, support team, and, of course, our users. It's really interesting to know how the different teams think differently and how they interpret and process information.

What are the challenges you face in your work and how do you overcome them?

There are many, but I’ll mention the more interesting ones. Appropriate knowledge of your target audience is a major contributing factor to good design. In our case, millions of people across age groups or economic segments travel by train daily. To capture the intent of this diversified group demands a lot of efforts and innovative thinking. At the time of ideation we always need to remember how any feature/design solution will be interpreted by the different segments. We attempt to overcome this challenge by focusing on the context of the user. Also, research about what our user does in different scenarios helps us a lot.

Network connectivity is another challenge we face on a regular basis. It does not matter how usable the product is if it's not loading at the right time. We have overcome this to a great extent by enabling the offline usage of the app. We provide some information to the user in an offline mode with a clear indication to get the live one. It’s tricky, but the network constraints regularly challenge our design thinking to create more contextual and usable solutions.

How do you see your current role changing in the next couple of years? 

As UX designers, our role in our industry is more important today than ever before. In order to be successful, a product should be multi-platform, multi-context, and always on. Our designs have to adapt and respond across a variety of devices with different input methods that are used under very different circumstances. User goals and expectations change as well. We have to know a lot. Not all of us may write an API, or even produce the final design, but we have to know enough about all these things in order to know why they matter, and fit them together into a cohesive experience.

I can see my role changing from creating what I call a “product experience” to a “human experience”. For this I have to go beyond the users’ typical needs for information and their ability to perform tasks on the app, but unravel what’s going on in their mind, at an emotional level, regarding their travel—even before they actually decide to travel. Knowing their state of mind before, during, and after they have performed the travel-related activity (e.g., the activity of ordering food on their train journey) is important to understanding how to deliver the best experience to them in every way. As the design great, Dieter Rams, said: “You cannot understand good design if you do not understand people; design is made for people.”

CUA of the Month

Each month we highlight the successes and achievements of a different member of our CUA community. If you are a Certified Usability Analyst and would like to be considered for CUA of the Month recognition, please send a brief professional bio to

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Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

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