No matter how innovative or smart your technology, if people can’t utilize it properly, it is futile. Offering users a way to access features or find data easily and enabling them to translate it to their specific needs, is crucial.
Shivang Patwa, Cowbell Cyber’s User Experience designer, knows that and designed Cowbell’s platform to not only package and present features and available data in an aesthetic and comprehensive way, but also deliver clear navigation of these to Cowbell’s diverse user persona – policyholders, insurance agents and brokers, and (re)insurers.
Today, we are asking Shivang how he manages to do that and where he draws his inspiration from.
First, how would you describe your role at Cowbell Cyber?
I am a Lead user experience, or UX, Designer. I focus on everything related to user experience and design. This is a unique role that has to balance ‘User Needs’, ‘Business Goals’ and ‘Technological Constraints’. Successful product decisions are made where these three things are aligned. At Cowbell, we have a diverse audience made of policyholders (and non-policyholders) with diverse levels of knowledge with technology and security, insurance agencies (owners, agents/brokers account managers, and administrative staff), and soon to come re-insurers.
My responsibilities mainly include advocating for users – every user category. I offer multiple design approaches to solve a specific user problem by defining task flows, user flows, interaction models, UI specifications and screen design with a goal of creating a cohesive end to end user experience taking into account both the business goals and technological constraints. My role also entails educating the team about the value of an effective design, bringing them on board and making them part of the design process.
“I like creating meaningful experiences for people and I bring
a unique blend of creative intelligence and pragmatic attitude.”
In my mind, functionality and aesthetic are equally important. I would go out on a limb to say sometimes aesthetics (the look and feel) is even more important than functionality because if you cannot draw the user on to your platform, no matter how functional your product is, it will not be used. Another responsibility of mine includes doing user research and user testing. It is basically listening to our users and articulating what their needs and issues are. Then take those findings back to the product team and get them on board to develop a new feature, add a new functionality or tweak our existing user experience to alleviate anyuser frustrations.
In all, I like creating meaningful experiences for people and I bring a unique blend of creative intelligence and pragmatic attitude. My objective is to lead both the users and the product teams from ambiguity to clarity by setting a researched-based, data-driven design direction that combines user, business and development goals.
You come from an interesting background – can you tell us about it?
I have a bachelor’s in architecture with a focus on Design and Technology from CEPT (Center for planning and Technology) in India and a master’s in architecture with a focus on Design and Computation from UCB (University of California, Berkeley).
I have also been teaching design for the past several years, both back in India as well as here at the University of California, Berkeley. I love teaching since it gives me an opportunity to be with young minds and the next generation of thought leaders. It keeps me on my toes and is also a way for me to give back to my alma mater. Since my childhood and early design education, I have always been fascinated by evolving technology, how it can be used to drive exploratory design processes and change human behavior through innovative design.
A saying by Marcos Novak who is an architect, artist, composer, and theorist and employs algorithmic techniques to design actual, virtual and hybrid intelligent environments, comes to mind: “When bricks become pixels, the tectonics of architecture becomes informational. City planning becomes data structure, construction costs become computational costs, accessibility becomes transmissibility, proximity is measured in numbers of required links and available bandwidth. Everything changes, but architecture remains.”- That pretty much sums up my background and how I look at user experience design.
Is there anything else you want people to know?
I work with an amazing set of people at Cowbell Cyber. Everything that I do for the company is made a lot easier because of them. Nothing would have been possible without their immense support, their hard work and their trust in my design abilities. A big shout out to Team Cowbell!
You can read more about Shivang and his impressive work at https://www.shivangpatwa.com.