Karishma Ajmera is the co-founder and creative director at Twist Open UX (twistopen.in), a strategic UX design agency in Bangalore. Her design practice is at the intersection of user needs, business needs and technology. Her strengths lie in Customer Experience design and she enjoys interfacing with teams and customers globally to bring innovative and disruptive design ideas to life. Her work includes training, mentoring and empowering creative talent, collaborating with multi-disciplinary teams and manoeuvring through project/business challenges. On a day to day basis she plays many roles, steering a team of designers to create solutions for customers that include Healthcare, Social innovation, Retail, Analytics, Data Science, Military, Payments/finance, Cloud applications, IoT products and solutions, Telecom, Wearable tech, AI and Blockchain.
karishma is also the treasurer of the National Executive Council of ADI (the Association of Designers of India). The ADI is an independent national body of the design community that creates an interface between design professionals, and the industry, the educational institutes and the policy makers in the government.
How are you planning to celebrate Women’s Day this year?
I plan to read short stories about rebel girls to my two sons this whole month, so they grow up knowing that gender has no role to play in our capabilities.
Would you say there is an under-representation of women in UI/UX design?
What are some personality traits of women that make them better (or worse) UX designers?
In my experience, I’ve realised women have strong people skills and communication skills, both of which serve a UX designer well.
Who are some design leaders (male or female) you look up to?
Charles and Ray Eames, Stefan Sagmeister and Ada Lovelace.
As a woman, what’s the greatest challenge you’ve had to face as a designer?
I’ve been blessed that I’ve only had to prove my credentials as a designer, rather than a designer who happens to be a woman; so most of my challenges are the same as those faced by any designer, male or female.
That said, because the teams we work with come with their own inherent set of biases, gender-based challenges can crop up.
One particular area where women UX designers may face an issue is while working with engineers/coders, an overwhelming majority of whom tend to be male. There’s an implicit assumption that as women, we may not be able to grasp technical specifications and functionality. That we will only understand the nuances of design, but not the engineering components required to implement the UX/UI design we’ve created.
What, in your opinion, could we UI/UX designers do, as a relatively young and collaborative fraternity, to solve the problem of gender inequality?
As a fraternity that is constantly learning, I believe we’ve come a long way when it comes to gender parity. Obviously there’s still a lot of work ahead, but as long as we stay true to the credo of what it takes to be a good UX/UI designer: imbibing a diversity of thought, culture and perspective, we’ll get there.
Your message to young women looking to make their careers in UI/UX?
It’s a misnomer that UI/UX is purely about aesthetics: the fact is, the true purpose of design is to bring value, so an understanding of how the client’s business works, or business in general, is a must-have. UX designers are essentially bridge builders: we connect the dots between business goals and user goals, and to do that effectively, we need to bridge the gap between design and engineering, so that the design experience and its intention are both carried through. This doesn’t mean that designers have to become expert coders, but simply that we need to understand a developer’s perspective, a sort of ‘shared understanding.’
This article was last updated on November 26, 2023; Originally published on March 3, 2021