"For me it's all about how humans interact with these strangesurfaces". Calculation and timing is important he says, "it'slike a science; it includes a strange type of psychology".
While his impressivetrack record for being a top designer on the digital networks like Uplabs andDribbble, Johny tells Digital Computer Arts that he's much more focused on hiscraft and teaching others. Working for Healthtap, SYP partners, UXD Training,ZOHO, and Tekion, Johny boasts a vast portfolio that showcases not only clientside work but also collections of side projects that are mainly targeted atteaching others advanced examples of Interaction Design (IxD). "The focusfor me, is creating animations that make technology more human like".Premium Interaction Design, a collection on Dribbble, includes over 100examples of animations that do just that, and has been viewed almost a milliontimes.
As the industryevolves, this fourth dimension and added layer of concept becomes more defined;more sophisticated. Johny is certainly leading interaction design in a way thatis vital for products to become more enjoyable to use. Living between Bangalore,India, and New York, Johny has a unique perspective of different cultures andthis is evident in his work. As we talk more about his process in idealizing,planning, sketching, and animation techniques, he brings to light manyconstraints and problems that he has to worth through. "I have manyinterests such as architecture, design, culture, fashion, etc. and each fieldhas its uniqueness. But no matter which kind of product we are making, thatproduct has to solve a problem for the user to improve some aspect of the theirlife". Expanding on this, we start from his beginning, an interestingstory that shows how intense focus and specialization can create a reputationthat is known globally.
In our research, you mentioned you started at the ageof twelve, with paper sketching. Amazing. Can you elaborate about this time?
Yes sure. During mychildhood days, I was a kid that thought differently from the other children. Ithought deeply and had many ideas. When I was growing up, people weren’tinterested to hear my ideas, so I started sketching my design on paper thatimmensely help me to reach the level where I am now. I sketch at the beginningof every project.
You’re from India is that correct? And you studied atAlagappa Chettiar College of Engg &Tech, Karaikudi. Tell us a little bitabout what you studied, what this college life was like, and what the programwas like?
Yes, I am proud tobe from India. I studied in Electronics engineering. I feel those are memorabledays in my life because my college completely transformed my personality andmade me the person I am today. Also, it helps to find my early interests and strengths.I had started my career as a magazine designer for my college. So I begancombining my Engineering skills and Design skills. Thinking about the technicaldetails is something I still do. For example, I design for the wearable spacewhich relies heavily on data and not a lot of room for design or transitions.It needs minimal interaction. I have worked on a project called HealthONE,which helps users access their health record through sensors and provides themresults, displayed in a straightforward, clean way, in their native language. Icompleted a lot of ethnography research during this project, to understand thepeople's empathy and to find the correct solution for the different types ofuser-types in different regions. Below is my home studio, its for both work and school.
Were you working or freelancing at this time?
I was living in NewYork during this time, doing my Masters in parallel with freelancing. It's agreat challenge for me to manage my time, though I enjoyed applying thetheories I learned from school, and use them in the concepts I was doing forclient projects. I am learning a subject called, "Service design"which greatly helps me to identify all the touch point of the user to make the whole UXdesign cohesive. I am currently working for companies like Healthtap and SYPpartners.
Then New York. First, why the move to US? Secondly,how is New York as a home?
As I mentioned in myprevious answer, I wanted to extend myself as an interaction designer who candesign for the whole world, not just for India. Also, I want to understandmulticultural problems and work with multiple types of user-types. My studieshave helped me open up my mind and make me think in a broad perspective tosolve different types of user problems. I see differences between my home, andhere, but at the same time both homes have been the same for me. It's nice,because if I want to go back, in today's worlds it easy to book a flight andgo.
This is my favorite quote you spoke about, “I havediverse interests - architecture, design, culture, fashion, etc. and each fieldhas its uniqueness. Nevertheless, all the above fields have a commoncharacteristic – The Problem of the User.” Can you elaborate a little bit aboutwhat this means and why you’re so passionate about it?
Yes, I have seen thepeople all over the world following the same "conventional" method.For example, still now so many people are confused which side to opencommercial doors, to push or to pull. A simple example of bad design. In eachfield, people are obsessed doing the same thing, being comfortable withconventional methods, so I decided to make some changes which enhance thepeople life. I like to think new.
Backing up even further and touching on yourupbringing, how did creativity enter your world? Was there a set of influenceswithin your family, school; did you have mentors?
I would say my MUMis my support; she always supports me to decide to follow my heart. When Ijoined as a designer, all my friends got good salaries but I wanted to choosethe design profession because I loved the field. My parents hold and mentoredme, they showed me how to improve myself and move further to the top.
Let's talk about freelancing for a moment. Yourportfolio boasts projects for UXD Training, ZOHO, and more. Can you speak alittle bit about this time? How long have you been a freelancer and why thechange in career? How long did you work full-time before this?
I worked for twoyears as a Fulltime employee. I also started doing my freelancing projects toimprove myself in design. One thing that I did to gain attention is startmaking concepts for those companies (Airbnb, Google, others). It has been hugein getting views and more clients. I used Behance to get these projects (andother graphic designs) out into the community. My first project I did for $2.
What is your process like? How do you start a project?
- Think of the design problem I’m facing. I try to find the best solution using my experience as a designer but I also always ask my associates, who can see the problem through another lens.
- Sketch my initial take on the problem and tape my inspirations on the handy whiteboard.
- Take sticky notes and jot down what are the problems I’m discovering along the way, and how to solve them through interaction.
- Do an initial UI design in Sketch. I take the rough layout I have drawn on the whiteboard, and then I start polishing the UI digitally.
- Initiate the interaction design using Principle with all the groundwork done by now. As you can imagine, this is the part I enjoy the most!
- Export the.MOV file from Principle and then import the.MOV to Photoshop. I crop the length, and finally, I get to export my prototype in GIF format.
- The only thing left to do is to publish the final result on Dribble, Behance, Uplabs! I usually submit once a day, and it always brings me joy to get immediate feedback from fellow designers. It keeps me motivated to submit more of my work, and it helps me learn what gets traction and gets users excited.
Please see some examples of user boards and journeys that I map out before jumping into the computer. These are the most important part.
Do you have anyone else that is working with you,under you? Next to you?
Yes I have workedwith my college Juniors, to guide them to get good jobs. I enjoy teachingothers.
Talking a bit about the Google Analytics Project, Inoticed what was unique about this project was that the animations were focusedon illustrations, not necessarily screens or UX dashboards, things you usuallyfocus on. Can you describe what this experience was like?
Thanks for askingthat, it was a great challenge to make the perspective animation on principle,because you can't make perspective vies in the principle app. So I took that asa challenge to make the illustrations animated. It was an excellent welcome toenter that space. I feel that it was a breakthrough to my portfolio.
Besides Google, what has been your favorite project todate?
My favorite projectis Music app because I did lot of groundwork and innovative idea:
If you were to change one thing about Freelance whatwould it be?
I want to change mycommunication medium, it is hard for me communicate with clients through Gmail.
Premium Interaction design (IxD). You have acollection of Shots on Dribbble and Behance that showcase beautifulcase-studies and imagery of mobile and web interactions. Can you talk aboutthis project? Why did you do it? What was involved (AE? Client work?)?
It was for teachingand showcasing my skills only and did not involve any clients. Also, a lot ofclients asked for these examples, but I don't want to sell them, I wanted tolicense them in my name. Those are projects that helped me to enrich my talent tothe next level. Now everyone calls me an interaction guy because of these. It’sa good kit for beginner to learn interaction design.
Do you have plans for extending this, making it awebsite or elaborating on the how-to’s portion?
Yea, I am planningto make a youtube channel.
Similarly, with 100 Best Mobile App Interactions. Youcan tell that many of these scenarios are honestly from a different era, theyspeak to a future that is bright and beautiful. Can you also talk about thisproject here?
I don't think thereare words to define these interactions, you have to just go see them. I havetried all types of interactions and this best showcases a good range. Because,I have a broad range of research for many of the examples here, these interactionswere filled with different directions. I never want to assume things all bymyself, so I always go the extreme users-cases and physically ask themquestions and give these prototypes to them to test it. This 100 differentinteraction scenarios include failures and successes, but I intend to makesolutions continuously whether it is right or wrong because only afteruser-testing can you know it's working or not.
If you were to change one thing about InteractionDesign, what would it be? What could today’s current applications (mobile anddesktop) be better at?
I would suggest notjumping into designing with view frames (rectangle - artboard) dimensionsparticularly being held to 1024*1024, 360*640. Come out of the square boxes;the world is so big; For example, You can make a table which is interactive,you can make a garden with a tree which interacts with you. So think of thedaily environment we all live in and try to improve those things withinteraction.
Second question on this topic, what do you see thefuture like for Interaction Design, Mobile and desktop alike?
I see the future ofinteraction is like I said before, it is not in a small rectangle. It will behow humans interact with the environment. For example, imagine if you sit on achair with a table in front of you and your able to see all of your pictures,something that AR might be moving into.
And of course, what is the future like for you? Whatprojects are you excited for?
This is thefascinating question. In my future, I want to move into environment interactiondesign which combines the interaction of the environmental like sounds, air,music, heat, soil with robot technology which works seamlessly. This will bringthe things we use in our environment easier to work with and something that cantake us back to our roots like jungle age where people are healthy and happy. Iwant to make any user a superhuman with my technology which interacts with theenvironment.
Also, you have 1Cor 10:31 in your profiles, Can youtalk to this?
Yea, and thanks fornoticing. I am a firm believer of Lord Jesus Christ. I pray everyday morningand ask God to give me an idea to make today, he always helps me and holds meand give me an idea. Without Jesus, I can't be here, in each and everything I feelthe God to decide my path. So it’s a bible verses: "So whether you eat ordrink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." I always have ajealousy for the people that work for Jesus; I wish to be like those people,because Jesus also wanted to make the human life better. And empathy isessential in design, that Christianity taught me this. If you are doing properresearch after some time, you will emphatically match to the people's lives,this will make you the best designer.