Judge’s Q&A: Saswati Saha Mitra from Uber

Judge’s Q&A: Saswati Saha Mitra from Uber

Head of Driver and Money Research at Uber, Saswati Saha Mitra, takes our judge’s Q&A. Saswati has worked internationally on some of the worlds best know brands like Google, Vodafone, Intel and Nokia.

Do you have a favourite app or website, in terms of the design and user experience?

I am really enjoying Canva this year. It is an online design app, where anyone can start with one of their templates for a newsletter or an invite or an Instagram post and then add your own image, music and a healthy dose of creativity to make something of your own. The app has an easy interface, a clean design and a pretty strong value proposition. If they continue to grow, Canva can reduce the need for in house designers for small and medium sized companies I would think.

Which industries, in your opinion, tend to deliver the worst user experiences, and why?

I think the insurance and finance management industries can be a lot better. The website for Royal London or AXA’s portals are so convoluted that you hardly ever get anything done on them. It’s a bit disappointing because these are high touch moments where people need to get things done quickly.

I think their design is quite convoluted maybe because they are prioritising all information and security, which is good but if users cannot do what they came there for, then that’s not good for business. They could also just be slow at change and not investing enough in their UX capabilities.

What’s been the greatest game-changer in the user experience and usability over the past 10 years?

The rise of data science. It’s really changed and will continue to change how we think about design. On one hand, we are able to iterate faster based on live traffic and optimise experiences endlessly. On the other hand, we may be losing out on designing with conviction and let a new experience settle in. Data can sometimes create an early sense of panic, especially when we are tackling big changes. As leaders, I think our job will be to help teams strike this balance.

What do you think are the biggest challenges companies face utilising UX?

I think a lot of companies continue to mix up good visual design with good UX. I see significant improvement in the quality of web design but when it comes to navigation, time taken to complete key tasks, you realize that these interactions are still half baked.
This is especially true for use cases like save my basket for a while, don’t make me scroll from the start if I navigated to another page to see a dress, let me correct my errors quickly, get me to the support experience asap or let me manage the security of my cards as I want to. The notion of form follows function just never gets old. The over use of agile development processes is partly responsible here. We are over indexing on screens rather than journeys and happy paths.

Do you have any UX-pet peeves?

I really dislike the new set of permission screens that are cropping up since GDPR. Most sites are burying the clicks too deep inside and it’s so laborious to approve each step that ultimately you just give up. Online privacy is still a bit of a pipe dream.

And finally, if you could have any superpower what would it be – and why?

I wish I could see the future. This would really help take a longer term view on things and think more carefully about sustainable business practices.


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