Interview with Aditi Khazanchi
Incoming User Experience Designer, Microsoft

Incoming User Experience Designer, formally at Microsoft. Check out her latest work on her personal website.
Aditi, would you introduce yourself and your design process?
Hi everyone, my name is Aditi Khazanchi, and I am a senior in the new aided design program at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. And originally from India, I came to the U.S. at the age of 18 to study design, and I am really passionate about traveling, and getting to know different cultures, different traditions, and how that kind of overlaps with inclusive design in emerging technologies. For my design process, it really changes based on what the project goal and the project brief is, but one constant for me, regardless of that, is the importance of asking questions - regardless of what stage of the design process you're in. And so it's just a general structure of my design process, it usually starts by setting an understanding context. So really diving deep into research of your users - user studies, user surveys - understanding what the technology landscape is like, what the market, the product is going to be is like. So doing competitive analysis for that, and also diving deep into research journals, or articles, or papers, that are relevant to my project's topic. And this research helps me set my project goals and scope. And then from there, I start doing various concepts and making sketches and mockups and wire frames that address my project goals. And I also might turn those wire frames or sketches into lo-fi prototypes, to kind of get initial feedback from my users about my direction and concepts. And that leads me to my last stage which is the implementation stage, where I basically do a lot of iterations and create the final mockups. And the final outcome of the project depends on what the type of the project is. So it could be just final designs, it could be animations of the design, or I could make a prototype or even code the final output.
What do you love about designing user experience? What do you still find challenging?
So user experience, for me, kind of bridged the gap between my two passions: art and design, and also helping people out in the community. And I think the best part about design is that I see it as a fundamental human drive, right? This drive to design a better future for ourselves is a universal thing. You look around yourself and you're like, "okay, this thing doesn't work the way I want it to, so I'm going to take steps to improve it, and make it better and design it better." And design is this multidisciplinary field that kind of takes from every facet of life and different disciplines: science, philosophy, psychology, and everyday things and interactions and how human beings behave, really. So I think that's why I really love user experience and design. In terms of what I find challenging, I think is both something that I love about design but also is challenging, is the human diversity aspect of design: how do you design for people of such diversity, such uniqueness - everyone is different in their own way. And who are you exactly designing for? What is the context? And how do you design with the people, and not for them? Those are some questions that I'm still exploring and figuring out.
What are some of the main tools and date you use in your design process?
The design tools I usually use change based on what the final project outcome or project deliverable is - but usually I would use Illustrator, Photoshop, Sigma, Adobe XD to mock up my designs and then if I have to animate them, I would use software such as After Effects. If I'm making a quick prototype I might use Marvel or Invision, which are quick online prototyping tools. And then one recent tool that I've been starting using is Principle, which is a great animation and prototyping tool; and then depending on the project's scope, I might also use HTML, CSS or JavaScript to code a potential prototype for the project. And in the end, I also use various tools such as ImageOptim or ImageAlpha, which are for image optimization, especially when I'm handing off images or assets to developers to code. And then I also use various Chrome extensions and online accessibility tools, to make sure that my designs are accessible for everyone, and that the contrast between the background and the text is just right.
When do you graduate? Do you know where you will land?
I graduate in about less than a month - which is May 2019 - and after graduation, I'll be joining Microsoft as a user experience designer on their Mixed Reality at Work team.