When You See Someone Somewhere Using Something You Created

Yonatan Ziv, User Experience Designer

When Yonatan Ziv was fourteen, he was already building computer games. He enjoyed a solid career as a user experience designer in Israel but wanted to go further.

Yonatan Ziv: There are those moments in life when you know you want to go further, but you don’t clearly know what your next step will be. I am from Israel, and I was already heavily involved in tech when I was young. When I was fourteen, I designed my first full-scale computer game, so it was no surprise that I went on to study at Israel’s national school of art, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.

(Hoop — social video sharing app. Designed at the startup hoop | 2015–2016)

When the first smartphones appeared on the market… that was totally my thing. User experience and interface design became my specialty. When you see someone somewhere using something you created and enjoying the experience… those are among my favorite life experiences. Israel had become a nation full of start-up companies; there was more than enough work in tech. I made apps for mobile phones and tablets, web apps, product landing pages, and identity websites. I worked on branding processes and gesture recognition technology. I was often in direct contact with clients and also worked on defining work processes for myself and other designers. This was a wonderful experience, I felt like a fish in the water. But at a certain moment, I knew that I wanted more, something different, with more depth. I just didn’t know what it was.”

Out of the loop

So I did what many of my future Mobiquity colleagues (Mobsters) did: I started traveling. The beauty of traveling, compared to going on vacation is mostly that it lasts longer. During the first month, your brain is still focused on returning home and what you’ll need to do then. You feel out of the loop and wonder how things will work out later. Then, into the second month, that feeling begins to fade. As you let go of all those thoughts, there are not yet many new thoughts beyond the mundane like, “Where will we have breakfast,” and “What are we going to do after that?” Good times. I recommend it to everyone.

(Yonatan in Cambodia)

Finally, the insights come. No criticism intended, but you see the way things can be done and the way things really should be done. Perhaps the best way to illustrate is in the context of my career.The market in Israel is fairly small, but very driven, very dynamic, and progressive. So start-ups don’t have much time, and as they say, are often forced to build the plane while they are already flying it. But as a user experience designer, you must test. At a certain moment, you must search, together with the end-users, for what they don’t like and what can be improved — and you have to be able to take that feedback pretty far if you are aiming for top quality. At Mobiquity, we want to reach the point where the experience is completely effortless for the end user. You need time and money to get there. Otherwise you have to run on gut feeling. And let me put it this way, that might go well. ‘Might’ being the key word here. Through my travels and experiences, I realized that I was done cutting corners. And I wanted to work with larger clients, I wanted to play the game at international level.”

A completely different world

“Here at Mobiquity, I am currently working on building and improving an online banking platform for the Bank of the Philippine Islands. That is a completely different world on so many levels. For example, you are able to work with some of the best people in their fields in the whole world. In Mobiquity’s European headquarters in Amsterdam, we have a very international team already, and now we’re working with the most talented people in Manila and in India.

(Designed at Mobiquity for Bank of the Philippine Islands)

Then, the way the online banking platform looks. That may be a simple example but it does say something. If you’ve ever seen a Jeepney, it is easier to understand. A Jeepney is a popular means of transportation in the Philippines. It’s usually beautifully decorated, really a kind of parade float but also an indispensable and strictly functional vehicle in Manila. It is uniquely Philippine, and in a way the client wants some of that mirrored in what we make for them — functional and swinging. Those are the kind of subtleties that broaden your view of the world and make the work especially fun. The behaviors, too — the teams I interact with are so experienced and hard working and professional with great camaraderie. If someone from the bank jokes about the tie of a South Korean designer, the team in India immediately reacts with a joke as well.

My wife and I currently live near the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and close to De Pijp, a neighborhood that is extremely international in its makeup. When there is any sun, the outdoor cafes are full. Amsterdam is one of the most multicultural cities in Europe and just walking down the street feels like traveling…

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