Hi, I'm Tapan Saraph, a design enthusiast and a product manager by profession. Sanskruti is an app for reading Indian Classical Literature. Checkout the app here: https://bit.ly/sanskruti-app

The Market : Who wants an app anyway?

With the rise of mobile phones in India and the Jio Revolution, even mundane tasks have a dedicated app to their name. Smartphones have become the gateway to the internet for a majority of Indians. Data consumption has skyrocketed in recent times. However, the internet is dominated by the West. Due to the lack of India's access to the www, most of the content created is to serve the rich American or European countries. As India sees a deeper penetration of smartphones and internet, the demand for local and traditional content will rise.

Although India is a young country with majority of its internet users between 20-30 age group, it is also observed that the older population is more likely to rely on their smartphones for day to day activities. This makes a case for creating a reliable content provider for traditional older Indians.

But the question remains, why the scriptures? The "modern" Indian tries to distance himself/herself from the orthodox Indian citing discriminatory texts like the Manusmriti. As true as this may be, I have a strong belief in the knowledge gained by ancient Indians. While I'm not endorsing Indian texts for their factual correctness, an average Indian needs to have a better understanding of the traditional literature.

Since every Indian and most global citizens are familiar with the Hindu holy text, Srimad Bhagavad Gita, we decided to start from there.

The Competition : What's in the store?

If you are thinking of a Blue Ocean, let me break it to you, there are 100+ apps for reading Bhagavad Gita. Gita is free and many open-source translations are available as well. So what will differentiate us from the rest? Aggregation & Design. Indians are lazy about design. Majority of the apps on the app store use standard android templates. Many have skeuomorphic backgrounds of a papyrus scroll or are just not well designed.

But design itself cannot be the only differentiating factor. So, along with the Bhagavad Gita in multiple Indian languages, we plan to aggregate other Indian texts such as the Vedas, Upanishads and many more into a single platform.

The Opportunity : What's new?

Structured content and good design can aid us leapfrog our competition. Better design will ensure a good experience, aggregated content will provide variety, multiple languages will improve accessibility. These pillars will make the platform easy to use.

Hence, according to me, the opportunity lies in aggregation of traditional Indian content, from scriptures to arts. Our goal can be defined as

Creating awareness of traditional Indian culture among the masses.

The Design : User Persona

While making a case for consumption of traditional Indian content, we had built our thesis around the boomer generation. Our main assumption was that only the traditional Indian uncle would willingly read such content and hence all design efforts should revolve around him. However, that is not the demographic we desire. Our goal is to create awareness of traditional texts among the masses and for that, we must target the most influential consumer segment: the youth, age 20-34.

Since we have chosen the Bhagavad Gita to kickstart our journey, our early adopters are assumed to be religious Boomers.

Early Adopter Persona

Rajiv Uncle is a 50 year old urban Indian. He prays to the God frequently and attends sermons by various spiritual gurus. He reads the Bhagavad Gita almost everyday but finds it cumbersome to carry the Gita around. Rajiv is dependent on his smartphone for most of his daily tasks. He would like a simple app to read the Gita on the go.

Based on the aforementioned persona and the competition, we came up with basic features for our MVP app launch.

  • Verse of the Day - as a nudge for the uninitiated
  • Last Read - for the regular reader
  • Simple Navigation - for a better experience
  • Multiple languages - for better accessibility
  • Favourite Verses - for future reference
  • Dark Mode - for night reading

The app implements basic design elements in an easy to use interface. Color scheme contains a less saturated version of  Saffron (#FFB24E), a religious color.

The Future : What's next?

The present design is too simple. It will serve the early adopters well, however to target the younger demographic we need a modern UI with more content. Future plans are to expand the content library to include Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada languages. The current app version was a MVP to spread the word. We will soon reach around 500 installs and update our app.

In Part 2 of this series will discuss various design elements in depth and redesign the app for handling multiple language content. We will share some user insights too.

Checkout the app here: https://bit.ly/sanskruti-app