Written by: James Carnell
In the words of Steve Jobs, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” This is particularly true when we consider design in the world of technology. And while most can identify bad design in an instant, great design is almost imperceptible as it results in ease and flow that the user or customer moves through without even having to think about it. A talented designer is almost like a magician.
How Does This Expert’s Mind Work?
Gil Finkelstein has worked in graphic design for over 20 years and has helped to bring impressive success to a variety of businesses. While each company has brought their own unique vision and challenges to the table, there are a few consistent pieces in the process for Gil.
For him, finding motivation is easy as it pours in from several directions. The first is his family. With two young daughters, Gil is driven to provide stability and security for his family while also making sure to cultivate a manageable work/life balance. He wants to be as present as possible through these precious years of the girls’ development. Gil is simultaneously driven by the fundamental desire to help people and businesses to succeed. He wants to leave the world better than he found it, and takes great pride in helping future generations.
As far as his approach to design, Gil is a huge proponent of design systems. He explains that “Before I start to dive into designing the product itself, I start by building a base for a design system that will help me keep consistency, and help me design faster by reusing elements and language that we already use, without reinventing the wheel every time.”
A Track Record of Success
Gil’s brilliant eye for design has allowed him to work in a variety of industries because, of course, design is fundamentally a part of everything. There is no such thing as no design, there is only good or bad design.
Born and raised in Israel, Gil actually got his start working as a graphic designer for the French-based Fashion TV, where he designed for all of their social media platforms, refined their e-commerce stores, and also worked on image optimization, typography and print as well. However, he quickly grew tired of the hustle of working for such a huge enterprise, and turned his focus to the entrepreneurial pathway instead.
His first venture was an agency offering innovative and cost-effective branding services for startups, which he went on to sell in 2015. His first independent project had been a great success and he learned a lot along the way. Over the next few years, he dabbled with several passion projects that allowed him to further diversify his skills. With Moockup.me, he launched a booming social network for designers that, at its peak, had over 240,000 registered members. He also worked with Mblinq, a made for mobile platform that compiles a user’s entire social media and portfolio into one aesthetically pleasing webpage.
In 2016, he took on a position with Airobotics as their art director and design lead. Airobotics develops automated industrial drones and provides an end-to-end, fully automatic solution for collecting aerial data and gaining invaluable insights. Their platform is available on-site and on-demand, allowing customers to process and analyze data in a faster, safer, and more efficient way. Working with such an enterprise was a great opportunity for Gil to get his hands on design work in the tech industry, a big shift from his more aesthetic based previous experiences.
During the next two years, Gil worked as the art director for Mako, an Israeli news and entertainment portal that was owned and operated by Keshet. With his help, it became one of the most popular platforms in Israel, with over 36 million unique monthly users. After a short stint of working as the head of design with Juno, a ride-hailing startup, he finally turned his focus to the US market in order to fulfill a lifelong dream of relocating to Silicon Valley – what he calls “the center of the creation of the world” – with hopes of taking his career to the next level.
The American Dream
It was in early 2020 that Gil found out about Openbase (called Devstore at the time) on Facebook, where he came across a job listing that his friend had shared. Openbase is a platform to help developers choose among millions of open-source packages, so they can build amazing products faster. Although it seemed too good to be true, Gil did his research and was blown away by what he found. He discovered that Openbase was a young startup and that their mission was to develop a tool that would truly create an impact in the developers’ community and technology overall.
After contacting the founder, Lior Grossman, Gil was thrilled to find that they clicked immediately and shared the same drive and passion. In order to gauge their creative compatibility, Lior asked Gil to redesign one of the open-source packages on the existing website. He conducted thorough research about what developers were looking for in order to understand their ecosystem and optimize the user experience. Lior was thrilled with Gil’s presentation, and this was the first step in the evolution of Devstore to Openbase.
Together, they mapped out a fundamental design system, creating a strong foundation for them to both move forward from with their own set of skills. One of the first major changes that Gil made was to design the website with a dark theme model only, for its efficiency and ease of use for developers. Next, as Gil knew that Openbase would be a fast paced company, he recognized the importance of a design system that could easily evolve with the business. This is why he chose to build the platform with XD and Zeplin and Storybook. After some adjustments to the information hierarchy, Gil was very pleased with the updated platform.
The team continued to expand and the company continued to refine its product. Nowadays, Openbase is a platform that helps millions of users find, discover, and compare packages. For each package, users can find reviews by fellow developers, as well as powerful insights about the package’s popularity, reliability, activity, and more. Armed with all this knowledge, it is easier to make more well-informed decisions and choose the right packages to tackle any task.
Looking to the Future
Although the concept of Openbase was always a winner, it was Gil’s fine eye for design and detail that has truly made the company such a success with developers. As for next steps, the platform is now working to add more social elements, so that developers can share even more about what they think and use every day. They have also recently partnered with Algolia to enhance the search capabilities of their platform, connecting developers to their optimal packages even faster.
For Gil, Openbase is a true passion project that he has big dreams for. Along the way, he has also enjoyed mentoring other designers to help nurture the next generation, as he hopes to make a lasting impact in the industry. Recently, he has started another unique venture, but the details are still under wraps. All we can say is that this new product will work with AI technology to create art for NFTs in the blockchain landscape. And it’s not going to be another piece of confusion in this young market, it is simple and easy to use – so much so that even Snoop Dogg joined Gil’s product community. We look forward to seeing where else Gil’s design talents can take an interesting idea and turn it into a successful business.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes