In Conversation with: Diego Homem, Head of User Experience, DigitasLBi
17th April 2017
MCG’s Consultant, Peter Mackintosh interviews Diego Homem, Head of User Experience at DigitasLBi regarding his views on UX and how this area has developed in the region.
What made you make the move into UX?
I come from a Design background, with a holistic view of communications in general, and professionally I started as a “web designer” also called “webmaster” who, back in the day, was solely responsible for everything web related. Strategy, UX, Design, Front-end, Back-end, Content and all the details between. However, I always had an interest in understanding the “Whys” behind projects, decisions, choices. That interest slowly drove me to focus my studies and activities into the helm of UX. Comprehending the business reasons and user needs that drive and shapes the digital space.
What attribute has made you succeed in business?
It’s always hard to identify our weaknesses and strengths, but in all honesty, I believe that “understanding” was the key factor for my success in the industry. A passion for understanding the reasons behind projects, the audience expectations, and especially, understanding the stakeholders and clients involved in the process. When immersed on the day to day challenges of the industry, way too often we forget that before anything else we are in the business of communication. If we do not understand each other, we are already failing in our business.
How much has the industry changed since you started?
The easy answer is “a lot”. It’s a more mature, and business focused scene, not a “teenager hobby” running on impulse and “cool factor” anymore. Some will say that we lost the courage to experiment and that things are becoming more of the same. I believe we reached adulthood, where there’s still plenty of opportunities to experiment, innovate and do things differently, but rationalised through realistic business drivers and the expected consequences.
It quite evident the UX market has developed at an extraordinary rate, how do you think the Middle Eastern UX landscape will look in 5 years?
I sincerely believe it will be on a pair or at least very close to the US and European markets, both from a talent perspective and business demand. The UAE was the first country in the Middle East to champion UX as an efficient and necessary business tool. The other countries are following suit by hiring talent and demanding the results of the big centres.
Who has inspired you in the industry and why?
I never stopped to think about that, as I keep getting inspired by the people around me every day. However, looking back I would say Luli Radfahrer a Brazilian author and professor who wrote one of the first books in “Webdesign” in Brazil and that I had the opportunity to read when I was in the university. At the same time, I came across “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug and together, these two sources shaped my mindset and UX career.
What made you move to Dubai?
Two key reasons. I wanted to experience life and work abroad, away from everything that I grew up used to, proving myself and tackling challenges that may not have been possible if I had stayed in Brazil. Second, Dubai was the first destination that demonstrated an interest in my skills, and luckily enough, nine years ago was when it exploded internationally, both as a touristic destination and as the business hub of the Middle East.
What career advice would you offer people looking to get into the UX industry?
Learn how to listen and understand the motivations of businesses, customers and people in general. Be curious about everything and everybody, learning the what, why, how and when of the activities and deliverables that you create. You are a nod on an extensive network, hence the more you learn, the bigger the picture you can get.