Founders Nabil Shaheen and Rami Obeid tell us more about their simple, yet innovative, vision that is linking up creative designers with clients all over the Middle East:
Why did you start design hub Middle East?
Designhub.me was founded on the Middle East’s need for an easy to use, simple digital platform, where designers could get exposure to clients looking for the best in the field. It all stemmed out of a need. We wanted a way to find designers ourselves and we noticed that there was no easy way of doing so. So, we just figured we’d do it ourselves.
Do you feel like the field of creative arts is given enough attention in the Middle East?
We have seen a BIG increase in attention to the creative arts in the region in the last few years. It probably goes hand in hand with the growth and popularity of online social media platforms that allow creatives to expose what they do more readily to the public eye.
So, as an interested client, how would I utilize the website?
DesignHub’s strengths are its simplicity, and user friendliness. A client looking to hire a designer visits the site and just needs to answer three questions: What kind of designer he/she is looking for (e.g. web, graphic, interior…). Where that designer is located (e.g. Beirut, Amman, Dubai, Cairo…) and what the client’s budget is (any amount, below $2000, $2000 to $5000 and so on).
The client then moves to viewing different designer portfolios, which costs nothing by the way. There are two types of portfolios: Premium portfolios, which have 6 pieces of work, displayed in a large format tile with an interactive slideshow for each and individual designer. Then you have the regular portfolios which only display 1 piece of work, non-interactive and smaller in size. Both premium and regular members get to share their contact information publicly, which allows clients to get in touch with the designer directly if they like the work. Client looks through portfolios, Client likes what he/she sees, Client contacts the designer directly, boom! They work together happily ever after.
How do designers sign up?
Designers simply visit designhub.me. Choose the language they prefer. English or Arabic. Click on “Get a free listing” in the upper right corner, and go through the 3 step sign up process, which only takes a few minutes.
The designer gets to choose between a regular or premium option. A premium subscriber automatically gets better exposure over the standard subscriber on our website. What that means is, clients will always see the premium subscribers before the standard ones.
When did you feel like the website was achieving its goals?
Almost immediately after its launch. When clients started using the site to look for designers, and designers got the well-needed exposure they did not have regionally before, online, in both English and Arabic.
What advice would you offer emerging designers and artists?
Work hard, invest in your process, push your research, document everything you do, look for daily things that inspire you, listen to good music, eat good food, put your egos aside, dance, try to develop your own style, accept all feedback on your work, defend your work, when you’re stuck, sleep on your idea and give it another go when you wake up, be proud of what you do, leave the city as much as possible, embrace technology, buy books, read them, and NEVER give up.
What’s the next step for Design Hub Middle East?
Actually we try and keep it really simple. We do not want the site to become something that is too complicated for our users. Most online businesses end up taking VC cash and this puts pressure on them to figure out how to squeeze every cent out of their users. We’ve purposely turned down requests to meet from VC’s precisely for this reason. We’re not out to conquer the world or have any delusions of grandeur. We just saw a problem that needed to be fixed. We don’t want to make DesignHub something it isn’t. What it is now is the best way in the Middle East to find designers and that’s what we’ll try to perfect.