Meet Praveen Selvam, our Director of Design Engineering. Praveen is a Chennai born, hardcore Chennai at-heart, resident. He is both an Artist and Engineer by nature and uses his skills to create beautiful software. We sat down with Praveen to learn more about him.
What is your role at Indix?
My job is to create beautiful software that is simple to use, no matter how complex they seem from a technical standpoint. I understand users to start with and design interfaces that are simple and useful. I also work with Engineering teams to help build high performance software that scale, and ship on time.
What did you do before Indix?
Prior to Indix, I was at ThoughtWorks, where I had the opportunity to solve design challenges for various people across different ethnic origins and cultures.
I started off as a part time web designer while I was still in College. Right after graduation, I was doing Consulting, being a Software Engineer, after which I finally landed at ThoughtWorks.
Why did you join Indix?
The team. The people and what they’d done in their past. That’s one thing I didn’t think twice about betting on. I figured out there was great potential to learn from this team and no matter what was going to come up, I knew I was setting myself up for a roller coaster ride.
Secondly, it was the opportunity. It took me a while to get my head around the potential for a product like Indix. Its evolved so much ever since we started creating it, and I’m sure its going to keep evolving. But for whatever vision we had back then, the response to it was very positive.
What are the top things you have learned about your role?
A software product is a dialog between a user and a software. It becomes the face of a companion that helps the user do what they want. Design encompasses all of the behaviors that one would expect out of this companion. Aesthetics, performance, accuracy and various other factors drive the design, which users eventually feel.
The days where robots took input and gave back a respective output are slowly dying. Common people have set the bar so high for machines that they expect them to understand the actions that people do and automatically react to them, as opposed to having to provide explicit inputs to drive actions. Design is a major driver to such behavior and one of my challenges here it to meet that bar.
In today’s world, most business applications are so complex to use and falls short of creating a good experience to the user by miles. This was the biggest challenge. It doesn’t matter how complex something can technically be. But if it doesn’t help the user do what they want, its practically useless. We’ve focussed heavily on making the app look beautiful, fresh and welcoming.
And the interesting thing about design is that everyone has feedback about it.
What have you learned working for a startup?
Openness to unlearning the past. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learnt here. Everyone has ideas from the past, which is good. But startups give us a fresh start and we should use it to our advantage. We don’t necessarily have to repeat the same things we’ve done in the past. Its a great opportunity to experiment and strive to create something better than what we’ve done before.
What technologies or trends get you most excited?
I follow anything related to digital art tied to engineering. Its the area that I’m deeply passionate about. I also keep an eye on productivity tools. I love anything that can make someone, or a team act more efficiently. Just apart from that, music remixing is something that excites me.
What do you do for fun?
I travel. A motorbike was the very first thing I started saving for, after I got my first job. Ever since, I’ve loved exploring different terrains across this country, ranging from the deepest jungles, all the way till the highest motorable road in the Himalayas. You can find a lot of my travelogues at www.thrillsoftouring.com.
I’m also a professional photographer. I picked up photography as a part of my travel experiences. The good thing about this form of art is that there is so much opportunity in everyday life that helps to keep my skills alive. Check out my portfolio on my facebook page.
What is your favorite technology product?
Off late, I’m in love with Sonos products. For years, I’ve struggled to get the older members of my family find the right kind of the music to listen and to operate complex devices such as CD players. With Sonos, I’ve setup music that automatically plays for them. All they see is one speaker that automatically starts playing at 6 am and turns off at 8, which is when they read the morning paper and mentally prepare themselves for the day ahead. The speaker also has one button that plays music whenever they demand. They don’t worry where the source of music is; whether its a CD, cassette or right from the internet. Behind the screens, I can use Spotify to set up the music I’d like to play for them, sitting just about anywhere in the world.
This, is beautiful design I love.
How would your friends describe you?
People say I’m creative, punctual and an intense planner. They also refer to me as a motorcycle tourer/traveler and a photographer.