In an age where attention is a currency and user experience is paramount, the design industry stands at the forefront of shaping how we interact with the digital realm. The rise of smartphones, social media, and e-commerce platforms has underscored the importance of design as a critical component in ensuring user engagement and loyalty. Amidst this digital revolution, designers have evolved from mere artists to innovators, translating complex user needs into seamless experiences.

Today, design isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about crafting experiences that resonate on a deeply personal level. Every swipe, button click, and visual cue has been planned to balance form and function. The demand for professionals adept at bridging user desires with business objectives has given rise to growth design – a discipline that marries data-driven insights with creative prowess.

In this dynamic landscape, Purva Takkar shines as a beacon. Beginning her journey in New Delhi as a communication designer, her drive to craft intuitive experiences led her to the realm of human-centered design. Now a renowned growth designer at Adobe, her accolades, including the Best Use of Google Machine Learning & Snapchat’s AR Studio Lens at Stanford’s Treehacks and the Zeno Certificates of Excellence, stand testament to her prowess. Beyond awards, her innovative contributions, such as the culturalization efforts of the Learn tab at Adobe, highlight her industry impact.

Having traversed the dynamic terrains of communication design, UI, UX, and now, growth design, Purva’s journey is both inspiring and instructive. She’s a maestro in an age of constant digital transformation. Let’s hear more from the maestra herself!

As we delve into this enlightening conversation, a note to our readers: Whether you’re a seasoned designer, a newcomer, or someone intrigued by design, this interview promises fresh perspectives. So, settle in and immerse yourself in the world of Purva Takkar.

It’s great to have you here, Purva. Your career is so exciting! Can you tell us about your journey from communication design to growth design?

In my communication design practice, I primarily focused on crafting graphics and digital communications. This entailed creating email templates, social media campaigns, web advertisements, and more for various brands in the Asia Pacific region.

While these efforts garnered user engagement, it was designing my first microsite for Netflix’s hit show “13 Reasons Why” at an agency that truly opened my eyes. I observed that users interacted more deeply with this product than with fleeting social media content. The process required me to consider user journeys in depth, which I found exhilarating.

Subsequently, I moved to the US to pursue a master’s in human-computer interaction. There, I was introduced to growth design by one of my professors, Verna Swehla, who later became my manager. It felt like a natural progression from UX design, and its allure was so compelling that I was instantly drawn to it.

How does growth design differ from other forms of user-centered design?

Growth design is firmly rooted in human-centered design, with both aiming to offer users a seamless experience. While human-centered design delves deeply into refining specific features to ensure optimal performance, growth design focuses on timing – determining when to introduce a feature, how to optimize it, and how to engage users with it.

Although both approaches utilize user research, growth design often makes incremental changes to the live product. It leverages analytics to gain insights and inform refinements. The agility of growth design allows for swift user understanding, fostering knowledge that benefits the entire team.

Can you give us an example of how you used user research and analytics in a recent project?

A significant flow I oversee involves users transitioning to Adobe Express Premium. Our data revealed considerable drop-offs, and user research pinpointed a demand for greater value from the paywalls. In response, we initiated staggered tests focused solely on the paywall. This encompassed tailoring paywalls to individual features, introducing animated graphics for enhanced feature clarity, bolstering user confidence with peer endorsements, and providing clear timelines – clarifying the onset of free trials and email reminder schedules.

To gauge user reactions, we conducted qualitative research studies and tests for each concept. Each refinement led to increased engagement, with users particularly connecting with the feature-specific paywalls. We persisted in optimization until research affirmed users’ comprehension of the paywall’s presence and purpose. However, the evolution is ceaseless. We continually glean fresh insights and are now poised to elevate the paywall experience even further.

How do you measure the success of your designs in terms of business goals and customer satisfaction?

Business objectives and customer satisfaction are intrinsically linked. Balancing these becomes especially challenging in my role, where I work on monetizing a product that also has a free version. My strategy centers on amplifying and demonstrating the product’s inherent value to users. In this endeavor, data and user research are indispensable allies.

While data pinpoints key metrics that reflect business achievements, research amplifies the user’s voice through comprehensive studies. Additionally, we keep a close eye on our community groups on platforms like Discord and Facebook to gather direct user feedback.

For monetization strategies, metrics such as drop-off rates, upticks in trials, user engagement, and retention trends are crucial. However, one metric I find particularly revealing is the feedback users provide when canceling a subscription. This direct input illuminates areas of user dissatisfaction, guiding us in making necessary adjustments. As our business metrics trend positively, it’s a clear indication of rising user satisfaction.

What are some of the key challenges you face while practicing growth design?

Growth design operates in a fast-paced, constantly evolving environment. One of the principal challenges I grapple with is striking the perfect equilibrium between user requirements and business objectives. For instance, while it’s crucial for our users to understand the transition to a paid membership, timing this information within their journey is pivotal. The advantage of growth design is its ability to test these intersections, utilizing the insights gleaned to harmonize both business and user needs.

Moreover, our product often caters to diverse user groups. Determining the optimal experience for each segment demands extensive collaboration, time, and effort. From a product perspective, I envision an experience tailored to individual preferences, maximizing value for each user. As we move forward, I aim to infuse growth design principles into our internal workflows, accelerating our deliverables.

Lastly, growth design is still in its nascent stages at Adobe. Having established its foundational methodology, we’re eager to join forces with other product teams within Adobe that embrace growth design. Our goal is to cultivate shared expertise and values, determining best practices across varied products.

Can you walk us through your process of crafting meaningful experiences at scale?

I firmly believe in starting with modest steps. While I approach projects with a clear vision, informed by data and research insights, I prioritize releasing smaller, incremental ideas. This approach not only fosters trust in the broader vision but also allows for early optimization and detection of potential pitfalls.

For each experiment, we conduct user interviews and monitor key metrics to ensure every element performs as intended, making adjustments as necessary. Collaborating closely with our product partners, I meticulously time the release of these idea fragments, which cumulatively transform the product experience over time. Crucially, establishing shared product principles for the challenges at hand, in tandem with stakeholders, anchors our decisions and steers us toward our ultimate goal.

How do you see growth design evolving in the future?

To me, growth design is an indispensable facet of every product team. My vision is for growth designers to transcend mere optimization roles and become pivotal influencers in shaping every experience that enters the market. Their expertise is multifaceted: they are adept collaborators, weaving together elements of psychology, data science, visual design, and UX design. This holistic approach enables them to craft superior experiences that not only generate profits but also drive product scalability.

To close our conversation, as a mentor to young designers, what advice would you give to someone who wants to specialize in growth design?

Be eager to learn and be open to collaboration. The more receptive you are, the better your experiences will be. You’re the wizard, the master potion maker who has to weigh each perspective and add the right ingredients. Take it all in, and keep adjusting until it shows your desired magical results.

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