I am Ridhima Gupta and I'm currently a lead product designer for AI at Databricks, where my focus is on designing tools for AI and making AI accessible to everyone. I've spent the last 6 years of my career designing for Data and AI and I'm passionate about helping see harness the power of data and use it to solve business problems. Most recently I've been at the forefront of designing applications using Large Language Models and building tools for LLMs at my current role.
Before Databricks, I spent several years as a design lead at companies like Tableau, Amazon, and Juniper. I have a keen interest in simplifying complex domains and making them easy to understand for people. Apart from that, I also love mentoring young designers as well as start-ups to successfully build design teams from the ground up.
I was first introduced to digital design when I was a sophomore in Architecture school. A close friend was building a mobile app and needed help to create the design for the app. I ended up offering him help and designing the app. The app saw huge success internationally, and that was one of those moments when I realized the power of digital design in reaching millions of people worldwide.
At Databricks, I currently design tools for data scientists, software engineers, and other business users to easily train, analyze, and deploy machine learning applications. It’s a fascinating space, evolving every day and I thoroughly enjoy being at the forefront of this technology and shaping the tools of the future.
I have always been drawn to the world of data visualization and being able to visually explain a complex topic on a digital medium through simple illustrations. Both these areas fascinate me as they go into the meaning behind data/concepts and try to distill it into its essence.
I strongly believe that good design is about crafting an experience that seamlessly weaves form and function, creating both feelings of purpose and delight for its users.
My go-to design style is minimalistic and modern, with bold colors to evoke certain emotions.
My design process starts with immersing myself in the problem space. Talking with users, getting inspiration from related areas, and reading literature. I then usually go on to draw out various design concepts trying to solve that problem, but also keeping in mind aesthetics.
Depending on the design, I would create various prototyping techniques such as physical prototypes or digital ones, and then test out my concepts with real users.
I draw inspiration from many folks in the digital design, architecture, and business world. Some of them who have deeply affected my life are:
Dieter Rams (for articulating principles of good design)
Andrew Ng (for teaching ML and AI to the world in the simplest way possible)
Le Corbusier (for designing the beautiful city I grew up in)
Steve Jobs (for bringing design to the forefront in shaping technology products)
Paul Rand (for pioneering the language of visual communication)
Walt Disney (for his creativity, grit, and vision)
I’m excited about the new ways in which AI will determine the user experiences in the future from being more deterministic to being more probabilistic, as well as its power in augmenting human creativity.
It’s a huge honor to receive the 2023 Platinum Vega Award. The award serves as a huge validation of the impact of my work on this project. This motivates me even further to continue to do my best work and share it with the rest of the world and the broader design community.
Databricks ML Experiment Tracking is a tool that helps Data Scientists train and compare various Machine Learning models, to figure out the best model they want to deploy to production. I chose this project because of the complex domain of the project and my and my team’s work in trying to distill the complex workflow into something useable and beautiful.
The biggest challenge in this project was understanding the user's complex workflow through user research and observing the user’s behavior in the product, as getting access to users was a challenge.
We had to collect secondary evidence from subject matter experts, field engineers, and customer success to understand the user’s workflow in more detail. Several of the team members also went through the journey of creating their models and comparing them, to put themselves in the user's shoes, which helped in bringing user empathy.
While I do enjoy most mediums of design, a few things about digital design give designers a lot of advantages:
1) Digital design is continuously evolving and digital products are now shaping how most work gets done in the world.
2) Opportunity to reach a wide audience very easily, which can be a challenge in more physical mediums of design.
3) Opportunity to get immediate feedback on your work.
I originally come from India and have been living in the US for the last 9 years. Having lived in both cultures, I’ve had the unique opportunity to observe them closely.
With respect to India, what’s unique is a large number of the population using mobile devices and the rapid pace of digitization of the country.
The US, on the other hand, has been and continues to be a leader in building digital technologies and providing that to the rest of the world and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to be the forefront of this technology development at the various companies I’ve had a chance to work at.
Focus on creating something that people want and try to create something that you’d want to put your name behind.
I would suggest keeping an open eye on everything around you. If you notice yourself liking something, take a moment to observe what you like about it and try to break it down. The biggest downfall of a designer is when they stop observing the world around them.
I would also recommend reading and subscribing to product updates, and design newsletters to keep up-to-date on the latest developments in the space. Lastly, I’d recommend everyone to hone their skills by practicing their craft and continuously learning new skills.
My mother has been the biggest inspiration in my life for her grit and positive attitude in any adversity.
Apart from that, I’m also greatly inspired by Brian Chesky, who is the co-founder and CEO of Airbnb and one of the only CEOs in the world with a design background. He truly embodies creating delightful digital experiences for people and brings them to the hands of everyone.
Ridhima Gupta is a lead product designer for AI at Databricks, focusing on accessible AI tools for everyone. Previously at Tableau, Amazon, and Juniper, she was a design lead, simplifying complex domains. She enjoys mentoring young designers and start-ups.