Learnings as a UX Design Intern at MakeMyTrip

A summary of what I got to learn at MakeMyTrip over the last 6 months (Feb. 2021 — July 2021).

Hey!
How’s it going?

I worked with the Make My Trip (Ingo — MMT) Team as a UX Design Intern for 6 months this year and it was awesome. The team builds the enterprise-facing product for the hotel line of business for the Goibibo and MakeMyTrip brands. During this brief period, I had the chance to work on multiple projects with some awesome people.

Here, I have jotted down some of my major learnings during the 6 months internship.

Let’s start now without any further delay…

1. Understand the terminologies

LOB, ARI, BD, ZM, Listings,…
Don’t these terms feel a bit intimidating to you?

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Well, I too felt the same in the first couple of days. Something that I learned in the initial days is to understand the terminologies associated with particular sectors. Understanding these terminologies makes it easier to communicate properly with different stakeholders and also helps in getting a better context of the problem that one is trying to solve.

2. Ask, ask, ask… as many questions as possible!

A frequent mistake I made in the beginning was not asking too many questions. The outcome? A task that would hardly take 2 days to complete, got delayed as long as 2–3 weeks.

The insecurity regarding what others will think of me if I asked questions frequently refrained me from asking many questions. However, I understood its importance over time. Shoutout to my manager who always supported and encouraged me to ask more!

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So, why is it important to ask questions?

  • You get a better understanding of the problem you are trying to solve
  • You get a context of the target users and their pain points for the particular problem statement (especially when working on multiple products built for different user groups)
  • You get to know the what are the expectations from the stakeholders for the particular task

3. Understand how the business works

I realized in the first few weeks of my internship that — in order to design for business, you need to understand the business (obviously not the entire business but at least the bare minimum). Building a business context helps to better understand the business problems that we are trying to solve.

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It is quite difficult to design for the needs of a hotelier (person who manages the operation of a hotel) if I do not have a rough idea about how the hotel industry works.

P.S.: I had zero knowledge about how the hotel industry works but it is necessary to understand once the wheels start rolling.

4. Communicate!

No one knows everything, but everyone knows something. Communicating frequently helps everyone to be on the same page while building the product. Moreover, it brings unique perspectives of team members and stakeholders onto the project.

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Remote communication is quite challenging and also a bit confusing at times. Finding a common free slot in a calendar just for a 10–15 min discussion is also a bit difficult many a time. I learned when to schedule a call or a meeting and when to connect async (over chats/messages) and how frequently communicate with others in the team.

5. Take notes

Something that no one tells a designer who is starting out — your day is often/frequently packed with meetings. Something that comes along with meetings (apart from the loss of energy and attention) is a lot of information.

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With an abundance of information, trusting in short-term memory is not a good idea. Often, it happened to me that after the meetings when I started working on the projects, I would miss out on some of the feedbacks because I relied on short-term memory. Taking notes during the calls/meetings helped me keep up with the information. I would note down anything that seemed important, old-school style — pen and paper.

(P.S.: Ignore my handwriting:))

6. Control! First, think then Design

The most tempting thing as soon as the Jira ticket is assigned to you — to open Figma and start designing. Well, with a design system in place and a defined visual style, it feels tempting to open the tool and start designing the screens directly but… flows > screens.

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UI is important but the flow and layout need to be brainstormed beforehand for it avoids UI design reworks and helps to build a solution that not only just looks good but also works well for the users. Or to put it in simple terms, “It helps to build a meaningful and impactful solution.”

7. It is a multiplayer game

You don’t need to do it all alone. The unique experience and perspective of different team members, when brought to the table, helps to build a holistic solution.

Your lived experiences affect your design. You are a part of the design.

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Previously, I had this notion that design work ends after hand-off but that is rarely the case. Sometimes the designed solution might not fit well with the business requirement or might be restricted due to technical constraints. So, it is necessary to get along with other team members (devs, PMs, etc.) to discuss and understand what they are trying to convey, what problem they are facing — and that’s the way you can come up with new solutions that fit almost all scenarios and use cases.

8. Be a story writer and a storyteller

Designers are good visualizers and there’s a notion that people will understand easily what we are trying to convey, but that’s rarely the case. So, what’s with story writing and storytelling?

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Something interesting that I learned from other designers in the team was — to think of the entire user flow of the product as a story. A story where you are composing the story with the end users’ point of view and pondering over the question “What If…”. As a result, what happens is —

  • It becomes easy to account for different use cases and edge cases
  • It becomes easier to rethink and improve the user flow
  • Helps to avoid minor inconsistencies in design
  • Understanding difficult concepts
  • Empathize and better understand the goals and pain points

Now that’s about writing the story. But narrating the story that you have written is the critical part. It is vital to narrate a story in such a way that it paints the perfect picture in people’s minds and helps to build a shared understanding with others by making it easy to understand how the product/ feature works. After all, who doesn’t love a good story?

9. Prioritise!

Well, I am going to write about my most important learning now. With multiple tasks at hand every week and each task involving various stakeholders, it just becomes really confusing and tiring to manage time and energy for work.

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How to deal with this? It is not so simple and requires a few attempts over a period of time to effectively handle these multiple tasks. As per my experience, I believe that it works wonders to discuss the priority and dependencies of the tasks early, after, or during the sprint meetings. Calculate the effort and time needed (add some buffer too) for each of the tasks. Get an idea of your and your stakeholders' availability. And in a few attempts, you will figure it out.

Prioritizing the tasks helps to effectively spend time and energy resulting in increased productivity and least burnout.

Ok, so we reach the end now! : I am neither an expert nor a perfectionist and am constantly learning, unlearning, and relearning stuff on a daily basis. But, I hope I was able to share some learnings that might prove informative and insightful for you.

Thanks for reading :)

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