#MentorSpotlight || Meet Tomer Shemi
“We designers have the responsibility of delivering emotion as well as the clarity of the user flow process.”
Design from the start
Tomer Shemi is a man with a personality as colorful as his sneakers and an out-of-the-box approach to life. He studied graphic design, more commonly referred to as visual communication, at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Tomer explains that designers had two options in the pre-internet age: they could either choose to work for an advertising agency or join a good-’ole graphic design firm (print).
Tomer chose the latter but left after some time to work for Pixel Multimedia, one of the first and most prevalent interactive-driven design studios in Israel. He began working for Pixel right when the internet and CD games started to take off, just at the point when people were starting to learn HTML. Concurrently, he was teaching a design course at Bezalel.
After working in interactive design for a year and a half, Tomer established his first independent studio with a partner, a talented student from his Bezalel class. Initially, they did a lot of print work for technology companies, creating marketing material such as booth banners, brochures, posters, and handouts for trade shows. Tomer calls this experience of working with tech companies and marketing their products his ‘door to the interface business’.
He then started creating interface icons, which naturally changed his service from creating physical material for the marketing department of an already launched product, to the product department itself, creating the interface before even going to market. Realizing he enjoyed the earlier stages of development more than the later ones: “I like the thing, not the marketing of the thing,” — he made it his mission to learn as much as he could.
Currently, Tomer is managing his design firm Frame Media House, assisting companies with UI, creating demo videos, and website design.
Startups from a design angle
Coming from the world of design, Tomer says that the most crucial step for a founder is making a point of ‘getting out of the office’. He says that founders and the core team of a startup should have as many meetings and studies as possible in the products’ natural working environment.
For example, if there’s a mobile app targeting a young demographic, focus on where that crowd is and test the app in its natural setting. Whether it’s spending time on buses and unexpectedly having commuters try the product, or hanging out at a local cafe asking random passersby to give the product a shot. There are so many variables that should be taken into account when testing a product. A founder may find problems, and unexpected solutions, that they never would’ve noticed if they had stayed in the office.
Emphasizing the challenge of marketing technology and user interaction, Tomer explains that most of his time is spent trying to understand the product from the user’s point of view. As a designer, Tomer explains how crucial it is to look at a product from the user’s perspective rather than the technology because the technology means nothing without its users.
For a decade now, Tomer has been teaching visual communications in the industrial design department at Bezalel. He teaches a 3rd year digital interface/ UX (user experience) course where they take a hands on approach, letting students work in the startup environment, in cooperation with _upstart, Siftech’s student-focused program. When asked what his favorite part about teaching is, Tomer responds: “I love startups. I love real ideas. I love working with young people. It keeps me up to date and current.”
Tips for success
- Good design is always function followed by form. If a good answer is given to a functional issue, a good design will be its natural by-product. Not only will it be a good design but it’ll most likely be beautiful too since it comes out of the necessity of function.
- Realize that there are always two sides to the coin. People who come from the tech perspective don’t think about the people on the other side; those using the product and technology that know nothing about code. It’s key to delivering value in even the most technical products.
- Bring a designer on board ASAP. Designers are often called on to save a product and bring it back to life. If you have a design thinker on your team, you have already made a huge step towards making a better product. Designers have one leg in the technology field and one in the emotional word of the end user, therefore, designers are the bridge between the two.