Soon after my China trip, I am now in Germany for exactly the same duration of time. It is but natural that I end up comparing things in both these countries, constantly checking where we as Indians stand. Just like Hangzhou, Hamburg is very well developed. Transport infrastructure is of very good quality.The roads are fantastic. Public transport is very efficient too. But unlike Hangzhou, Hamburg has fewer people, anywhere you look! That poses a problem for me; there’s no one to ask for directions or help on the streets. And even if I happen to spot someone, people here are not very willing to communicate in English. German and Chinese as languages are equally distant from English, except that German and English share a script. That helps if someone marks something on a map. In China that didn’t work at all.
City characters are a bit different, but what stands out is the mindset. In Hamburg, you really don’t need much help…things work. In China you need help to figure out how they work. German systems are tried and tested, and have existed for a longer time. A lot of intuitiveness is built into everything, and you don’t really miss signs in English.
Intuition or naturalness and cultural agnostic design is becoming the hallmark of international cities. It helps discover where you should look for a taxi at the airport; where you might find toilets in a shopping mall; or how you should signal for a waiter in a restaurant. I bought a mobile gadget, and though it was all in German, I was able to configure it based on intuition.
Navigation on roads or on devices has to be intuitive. Intuitive Design is the next big wave. Start working towards it.
Sudhir Sharma, Editor-in-Chief