An Interview with Vidit Bhargava, Developer of LookUp
An interview with Vidit Bhargava, an iOS developer and designer.
Who are you, and what do you do?
I am Vidit Bhargava, I am the co-founder at Squircle Apps, we build applications for Apple Platforms. I take care of the design and development side of things.
How did you get interested in that?
I started designing when I was in school. I designed and maintained an e-magazine for students to keep abreast with technology news and to catch up on trivia, and I took part in several inter-school web designing competitions which honed my web design skills.
When the iPhone SDK launched, I was encouraged by the idea that I could build and ship something to thousands of people worldwide. My passion for web design quickly translated to app design.
What resources would you recommend for people that are interested in what you do?
For me the best starting point has been Apple’s Developer documentations and the Human Interface Guidelines (HIG). The Developer documentation has some really good tutorials on getting started with App Development, the HIG is a fantastic primer for UI Design, it’s got everything you need to create a good ﬁrst interface for your app.
What tools & gear do you use? (Could be hardware, software, something else entirely.)
I do most of my development and design work on a MacBook Pro. Anything that’s not development or design is usually done on my iPad. In terms of software, I use Xcode for programming and Sketch for UI Design.
Besides the tools, what routines help you get your work done?
Usually I try to get at least 3-4 hours of continuous work done at a stretch. For me the only routine that’s important is having a clear set of tasks to perform, and being able to do so in a ﬂow for a long duration, I usually don’t prefer 30 - 45 minute work sessions.
My ﬁrst experience with your work was LookUp, a beautiful dictionary app. I imagine there was no shortage of competition when you released it. How did you go about deciding how to separate LookUp from other dictionary apps?
I had the idea for LookUp when I was ﬁnishing my high-school. Looking up words in a dictionary was a frustrating experience for me. Being a non-native English speaker, it was important for me to understand the proper context, as deﬁnitions alone were usually not that helpful. So looking up a word involved 3-4 diﬀerent searches: one for dictionary.com, one for Wikipedia and one on Google to get more context or possibly an image (they didn’t have the knowledge graph features that oﬀered a dictionary built into search, back then).I wanted a simple app, that would make it easy to LookUp words and provide all that context in one search. That’s how the idea for LookUp came about.
Over the years, I’ve built on the vocabulary building aspect of the app, LookUp is a potent dictionary app, that has quality deﬁnitions and good context to explain words in an easy to understand manner, but it’s also a useful vocabulary building tool with the Word of the Day Illustrations, Quizzes and Learning Sessions.
As far as competition is concerned, I was naive enough to never look at it when ﬁrst designing it in 2012. More recently, I’ve tried to diﬀerentiate it as a tool that also helps users build vocabulary. Sure, there are a lot of dictionaries online, and a google search probably gives you a decent deﬁnition, but LookUp is a unique tool that not only provides great deﬁnitions but also provides a way to learn the words in a fun and interactive way.
Something that strikes me about your work is the emphasis on design. Why is design so important for you?
Everything is designed. But good design makes life easier for people. It gets out of the way, because it’s so obvious that using it feels natural.
I build products to help people, and for me caring about the design, making things easy and fun to use, is one way to help them.
Is there a speciﬁc design philosophy you try to abide by?
I’m a minimalist. I don’t like adding things just for the sake of it. Everything I add should have a good reason to exist there. I try to design in a way that helps the user achieve something, as opposed to, designing because everyone else is doing the same.
How do you relax or take a break?
When I am not building apps, I am watching Movies or Cricket. I am a big movie buﬀ and love watching anything with an interesting plot.
Whose work inspires or motivates you, or that you admire?
I’ve been inspired by the works of designers like Imran Chaudhri, who worked on ‘slide to unlock’ for the ﬁrst iPhone, and hundreds of other interfaces on the iPhone and Mac. It’s astonishing to me how Imran built the interfaces for technologies that were still emerging at the time.
In terms of hardware design, I admire Jony Ive’s work a lot. There’s a lot of thought and care that goes into his designs.