Experience of being a Nutant, a UX Designer and an Intern.
Internships can be daunting experiences, especially when it is your first one. You have a lot of expectations — new people, exciting office life, bumbling culture, exploring the city — but you don’t know what it will turn out to be. I got my internship from campus recruitment at Nutanix India, and I was eagerly waiting for the summer of 2018 to begin.
Nutanix is a software company that sells what it calls hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) appliances and software-defined storage. They make infrastructure invisible, elevating IT to focus on the applications and services that power their business through the power of their Enterprise Cloud Platform.
The process involved portfolio shortlisting and then a task was given for a duration of 2–3 days. Post that interviews were conducted on campus where the conversation centered around the attempt made for the task — the good, the shortcomings and how one can broaden their thinking. It was valuable feedback which helped me understand how to be a creative thinker and present my ideas in a better fashion.
Pre — Internship
As and when the time came closer, my eagerness turned slightly into excitement and slightly into apprehensions, both at the same time. I wanted my summer to be a reflection of how design works in industry, and to be responsible for a project from the get-go if possible.
Sometime before my internship I received mails from HR, Sr.Manager, and Mentor regarding accommodation, my interests and other formalities. Things were in place to some extent for me to join in. I communicated my preference for carrying out an end-to-end process, and asked for any reading material to be more ready for settling into Nutanix. Since it was a 2 month internship I knew I will have less time to settle in and get used to what they do. Hence I wanted to get a head start on some basic yet crucial things at my going-to-be workplace. My mentor, Ramachandra Kishore aka Rama was kind to send me a document with references and reading material. Considering it was my first experience with Enterprise Design I also wanted to know something about it so that I am not lost and I could contribute as soon as I was with my team.
The Day of Joining and Beyond
After initial orientation sessions and getting my equipment I was with my team of 13 people comprising of visual, user experience and information designers. The designers sit together and are not divided by the projects they work on which I greatly appreciated.
Instantly, the team felt like a friendly bunch who welcomed me with warm smiles. They were quick to relieve me of my anxiousness, making me feel I belonged here. They have devised their own onboarding process for the new hires and incoming people. The Nubie Design Checklist, as they call it, acts as a cheat sheet to get things quickly in order and to start the knowledge transfer. I spent the first week getting to know Nutanix — understanding the technology, their terminologies, what do they do, and how did Nutanix get to be the big player in its domain.
Towards my second week, I leaped into my project which was a tool used by the internal Tech Support Team consisting mainly of System Reliability Engineers (SREs). I was really happy that I was given a project that had not been undertaken by a designer before. My desire to work on a project in the nascent stage of its development was fulfilled!
I spent the first few weeks getting to know the tool. With the help of developers we were able to uncover the details of how the components of the tool worked — the interactions and inter-dependencies. Doing usability testing as a research method gave us insights about what users like and want to accomplish, what specific use cases will potentially exist, and if there are things that need to be preserved in our design. Soon after the session conducted across geographies and different hierarchies to get a holistic view was over, we set onto the synthesis of insights to formulate the direction for the tool. We identified the key processes that need to be translated into the flow and the main needs/ tasks of our users on what we were designing.
The design stage was iterative — going back and forth between use cases and making sure the ideas proposed were in line with what was needed. It was really helpful to have a team at this point who helps you whenever you want. Everyone has their own set of skills and ways of approaching a particular task. Multiple discussions about problems, feedbacks helped to see the other ways of achieving the user goals and still not being astray from the Nutanix Design System.
The final deliverable for my project was a high fidelity clickable prototype of the screens to the team who was to take it further after incorporating changes as deemed fit.
Change is the end result of all true learning.
— Leo Buscaglia
My internship experience would have been futile if I had not learned from what I did. Takeaways are what made my experience enriching and I continued to evolve and grow along the journey of my short but sweet 2-month internship. It was an evolving process. Every day I could pinpoint something that changed how I looked at Design, what I knew about it, or how I practiced it. If I was to mention everything each one of those could be a long story in itself, but I’ll summarise it to the best of my ability I know how.
Communication — I think designers can’t do their jobs successfully without it. Not at all. From the time you want to start talking about your ideas to when you have to deliver what you envision, and everything in between-Communication is extremely crucial..
- It is so important for you to understand and then communicate back what you envision the project to be. It is essential to talk about how you are proceeding further and taking the decisions along the way. One can not do this without connecting with the stakeholders — team, experts, management — and updating them consistently what direction the project is headed towards.
- You can’t do a good job without taking feedbacks throughout. At those times, communicating what the tool needs to do, and where and what kind of feedback you’re looking for forms the backbone and helps steer the discussion.
- In most its being, your design also communicates the kind of designer you are, and aspire to be. This comes through the splash of flavour that is added as part of your design style, through the journey that you have taken to reach this particular point in life.
In all this, one thing that has spoken to me and I am trying to imbibe in practice is, that communication needs to be effective, efficient and easy in all its forms — verbal, presentations, and your designs. I now hold gospel to what my manager told me repeatedly which was along the lines of —
You need to communicate what you want your audience to know, but you need to do it in a manner they’ll accept.
Apprehensions — Everyone is afraid to try something new. There’s always a fear of design when you are the users’ advocate and have to solve their problems, make their lives easier? that fear can grow even bigger than it needs to be.
- When you are new, evaluating the place, and you know you’re being evaluated too — the fear can grow a little bigger.
- When you’re about to sketch, or go digital — mentally being stuck trying to get it right the first time can prove to be a huge hindrance that makes you stop your work midway.
- During the time you’re stuck and you need feedback, not knowing how to start, or where you’re really at can bring you to a halt.
At these times it is important to consciously decide to move past these apprehensions to grow into the designer of your full potential. This goes just about anything — communication, designing, and talking about your work. It was in the beginning when one of my team mates and a good friend told me —
You’re not going to get it right the first time, so might as well just leap forward and try
Details — Some say that ‘God is in the details’ however, sometimes it can feel otherwise that it is the Devil instead. Over time, I have come to think of it as both do, at different times. Yes, the former is true no doubt, though while you’re aiming for a great design you can come across the latter too.
Attention to detail is important for any designer — at every stage and during the whole process. Not just within that realm; I have learnt it’s a quality that can make for a very good designer.
- When you’re presenting your work — grid, arrangement, type and colors can really help set the context of the work, the kind of presentation.
- Within your design, details can speak a lot for themselves. They can speak to the audience about you too and who you are as a designer.
- Also when talking about your design, the message you want to come through the information can be highlighted with little details and how you put it forward.
- Details can be overdone easily, and that is definitely what one needs to stay away from. ‘Less is more’ ideology resonates with it, and it was something my mentor talked to me about throughout —
If it can be done without, do without it.
All included I am thankful to Nutanix for helping me learn so much in this little time. Being part of such a design team and have so many experiences has been enriching, to say the least. With every issue, I engaged with different people. Each one of them has their strengths and bring something to the team uniquely.
The experience has changed a bit of how I see and approach design. It has helped me grow and take a step towards being the designer I aspire to be.