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Sketching success: A product designer’s journey of creation and innovation

Sampurna Mitra|4 min read|27 April, 2023

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-Shailesh Satarkar-

As a designer, I have always been fascinated by the power of creativity to transform ideas into reality. As I made design into a career, I learnt that it involves much more than just creating visually appealing products. It is also about understanding people’s needs, solving problems and making an impact in the world. In this blog, I want to share my personal journey as a designer, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Designing destiny: how I found my way into the world of design and landed at PhonePe

From my early days in school, I had a natural flair for drawing and my love for art and design only grew when I entered the advertising industry. I started off by doing commercial ads and worked with various agencies as a freelancer. However, as time passed, I noticed a shift in the industry as it moved towards web media, and I was personally drawn to it because of its limitless possibilities.

As the world shifted towards mobile devices, my design journey took a new turn in 2010. I started working on mobile product design, starting with Symbian OS before Android OS became popular. I joined Mime360, a digital music platform which was acquired by Flipkart, and here I got the opportunity to explore and learn about designing for mobile devices.

During my time there, I gained valuable insights on how to place a user at the centre of the design process and also learned how to leverage design to shape user experience and perception. These learnings equipped me with a more holistic understanding of the impact design can have on a product and its users. During my stint there I also got an opportunity to work with Sameer, who later went on to become one of the founders of PhonePe.

When Sameer was starting PhonePe, he approached me with an opportunity which allowed me to further shape my design career. Even though I felt apprehensive initially, I also believed that this opportunity will create an exponential impact and help many Indians as well as help me explore a different side of my personality as a designer!

Deconstructing the PhonePe logo: why fit in when you can stand out

When designing for PhonePe, it was important to consider the brand’s target audience, vision and values. The PhonePe logo was one of the first pieces that I worked on. The design process included the team carefully considering multiple elements such as the font, colour, and overall composition to create a visually appealing and meaningful logo.

After building more than 30 iterations every day, we zeroed in on the purple colour. At PhonePe, we wanted our brand to stand out in the cluttered digital payments space, and the unique purple shade helped us achieve that.Thereafter, we started using it in our marketing communication and collateral. The idea was to use the colour extensively to help build a connection with our audience over time. The colour has now become synonymous with PhonePe as a brand and has played a significant role in establishing our market presence.

How the logo and signature purple became cornerstones of our success

Marketing the logo in the initial days was a challenging task, especially when it came to our signature purple colour. We wanted to create something that was memorable and distinctive, however, getting the colour right on print was crucial. We had to go through much trial and error before getting the colour just right. Purple ink was not readily available with the printers, and it was tough to get the right shade on paper. After trying out multiple combinations with different printers, we finally locked in on the colour.

We used a mix of magenta and cyan inks to create the perfect shade of purple for our brand. We also ensured that the purple colour was consistent across all our marketing collateral, from digital to print. We also wanted to stand out among our competitors. To be able to do that, we took a different approach with the colour purple as opposed to the more mainstream colours being used by Fintech apps at that time.

Designing with heart: Prioritising users, consistency and intuition

PhonePe’s design team follows a set of core principles to ensure users have a positive experience when interacting with the product. Consistency is a key aspect of our design and we strive to eliminate any learning curve a user may encounter. Simplicity is also important, making sure that tasks are easy to understand. Additionally, by prioritising a user-centric design, the team takes time to understand and engage with users to improve the product. This ensures that users overall have a positive experience when using the app.

A journey of self-critique and constant pushing of boundaries

As a seasoned designer who has been part of several successful projects, I often get asked what advice I would give to young designers just starting out. And my answer is always the same — challenge yourself as much as possible.

Critiquing yourself can be difficult, especially when you have put a lot of time and effort into a particular project. But it is crucial to question every decision you make, from the colour scheme to the font size. Ask yourself if it’s the best choice for the design and if it aligns with the brand’s identity and message.

Continuous learning, seeking proactive feedback, staying attuned to market trends, prioritising consumer needs and problem-solving with passion is essential for personal and professional growth. The pursuit of excellence requires a commitment to lifelong learning, embracing change and an unwavering focus on consumer needs. With dedication and perseverance, anybody can achieve their dreams and create a meaningful impact on the world.

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