Come on(a)board!!!

In India, along with love marriages, we have an arranged marriage system prevalent, which I never understood. When I was 15, my eldest cousin was searching for a life partner. Most of the time prospective brides used to come to our home, but at times we went to their homes too. The idea was to get acquainted and figure out if they feel they are a good match. Eventually, my cousin fell for one and they got married. Now that I look back, I wonder was that an onboarding process for a marriage?


Onboarding is a process of getting oriented to how an experience works. It is where the user is introduced to all the new ideas and their functions. I had a one such unique experience when I was working on an onboarding process for a mobile application in one of my master’s course.





I partnered with my classmate Nick who is visually impaired. Nick is a great asset to understand and empathize with people. It was a challenge for both of us to actually figure out a way to work with each other. For a moment we were sitting and wondering, “wait…how do we do this?!?”. I was stuck in a limbo of how and what way to react because I couldn’t initiate a conversation, which is a shame. The challenge was to overcome this hurdle and make the best out of it. I also thought of closing my eyes and using the accessibility mode so as to understand how he does it, I realized it is extremely difficult to manage even one action without looking at the screen. I was stunned and quiet. We were both contemplating on how we could go about it.


Eventually, I broke my silence and asked him which product he would like to talk about. It took us some time to narrow a specific application based on an interesting onboarding process. We finally decided to use ‘Spotify’ as we both love listening to music. We downloaded the app, and were greeted by Spotify’s onboarding flow. Nick pulled his phone near his ear, installed the app, and before long he was grooving to some tunes! It felt like an impossible feat for me, I was awestruck and delighted! That was a very unusual way of interacting with a smartphone, or was it unusual for me? While I had heard about this feature, never had I experienced how it really works, until now. It was interesting to me because he was using only two gestures to interact with his phone. It’s so difficult to imagine that he could seamlessly navigate through the application with such ease.



“It is a misunderstanding that eyes are the most vital sensory organ, in fact if one of your senses isn’t functioning well, the other one takes over as an important sense.”


We then started understanding how accesibility is designed in two different ways in the on boarding process. Nick used audio support to log in using his email address and I was going to log in to Spotify through my Facebook account. He figured that after logging in he has to select a list of artists which grows after every selection. He built his playlist and started listening to some really good music. I don’t remember which song was that, but it was awesome.


The individual process of identifying insights continued, but the experience I gained after seeing Nick and his way of interaction was much more interesting. User experience is about developing empathy towards the user and introducing this empathy through design. But I realized at times it is not just the users but also the designers who have to experience the inexperienced. I have just begun to realize that my thoughts and ideas need to be more inclusive and creating technology and products that work for everyone should be the focus. Designing a global user experience is a path towards inclusive design.


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