Projects, UX/UI, Web Design

Divide, divide, repeat: solving big problems with small tasks.

I spent more 4 months travelling in the Middle east. At the end of my journey I started to work as a communication officer in Jerusalem, where I spent 3 years.

In 2009 I started to work on complicated projects. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs developed a project to encourage the joint-venture between the Palestinian SME and the Italian one. As you can imagine it was quite a delicate project which required sensitivity and diplomacy. When you think about Palestine (the project was only for west bank based SMEs) you think about war and conflicts – well that is Gaza. The actual problem is not the conflict but the difficulty the SMEs of the west bank face to export their products. Other problems included but were not limited to obtaining machinery and expertise to improve production. Despite the challenges there was plenty of untapped business opportunity. Marble, wood, leather and oil are just a few of the possible businesses that an Italian company could potentially develop with a West Bank company.

The problem now is how explain this to the italian business man? How can you convince someone to invest in an unstable country only famous for war and conflict?

The answer is surprisingly simple. The Italian government offered a loan with zero interest to the Palestinian-Italian join venture. This was enough to capture the attention of many businessmen. The best way to promote it was through classic channels such as press releases on the website of the Chamber of Commerce and direct mails. So we moved our target to the website.

The communication was addressed to specific companies. This ensured we would not have a line of SMEs applying on the website just attracted by the credit.

During the first meeting about the project, the Accounting Manager explained how to access the credit. The procedure was long and complicated and unsurprisingly involved a lot of bureaucracy. To ensure the quality of the project there was a strong selection process and the SMEs (Italian and Palestinian) must present a project together.

So now think about an expert Accounting Manager bombarding you with complex forms and contracts and rules that the SMEs have to agree with and follow to have access to the credit.

Between my office and the meeting room there was a long corridor with many paintings. I like art and often spent some time admiring copies of Seurat’s Grande Jatte and Circus.

Seurat helped me to realise something with his paintings. From afar a scene of people on the grass but up close it is just a messy group of coloured points that together make a beautiful painting.

In contrast to the complex bureaucracy system, the solution of my UX problem was to organise the information in auger friendly way.
The best advice i could give is to always divide the process into small tasks, every time accomplish a task a feedback. Just like the Monet paintings, these small points are integral to the bigger picture.

Repetition in the UI was also another key. It is not only important for the UX but also for the developing.


First: access to the credit is divided in other 3 part: information about the credit, how it works and who can access to it.
Second, Know the market explore of the palestinian economy for general information to case studio to the local law.
Finally, realise your idea! This delicate part helps the user step by step from the presentation of the project to find a Palestinian SME to inspire the new born joint-venture with case-study.


Emotion & Empathy

During my experience in Beijing I was involved in an interesting collaboration at OASIS International Hospital.

Being sick is never a nice experience, especially when you live abroad but if you live in China it can be a nightmare. As someone who has lived the best part of 10 years abroad, I have first hand experience of nightmare hospital trips. Before OASIS, if you wanted to avoid language barriers and dodgy hygiene standards you really only had one option in Beijing.

At the time I started to work at Oasis, the hospital wasn’t yet open to the public.

The first day there the marketing director said to me: “a few months ago I was working at United Family Hospital” (one of the most famous and popular international hospitals in Beijing and direct competitor of the brand-new OASIS.” He continued: “The CEO of OASIS was working at the United Family Hospital up until a year ago when, thanks to wealthy Chinese investors – and in China you can find many – he had the financial backing to fund OASIS and called me.”

The United Family Hospital had operated in the city for more then 10 years and had a mixed reputation among the expat community. The general feeling was positive and the hospital retained a strong presence in the market.

How we can win against this strong competitor? OASIS offered almost the same services and the same hygiene and professional standards. One of the promises was to always keep the price lower the any direct competitor in Beijing. But could it be enough? Probably not.

When you can not win on lower price, quality service is the best way to offer a better experience. Most of the time people buy products for an experience, rather than for the product itself. If you have a good experience you think less about the price.

First a short introduction about the target audience: The international community in a cosmopolitan city such as Beijing is quite fragmented and varied. Due the high price of the services provided by the hospital the primary target audience was executive expats. The highest proportion of executives in Beijing are Americans, followed by French and Germans.

The secondary audience was the remaining expat community which would use the hospital for emergency services, usually through their insurance.

I was an expat myself in Beijing and was closer to the secondary target. When you live abroad in a country like China you crave the standards that you would receive in your home country. Air quality, food security and basic health and hygiene can be everyday problems. For a well-travel person like myself, these problems are less daunting but I can imagine the face of a rich American executive during his first day in Beijing!

What do all of these people need? an OASIS.

Imagine you have been sent away, perhaps with work, to a huge alien metropolis, far from your country and even your family in some cases. Like a traveler in the desert you need fresh water, an Oasis. Thus OASIS Hospital was born, probably this idea was influenced by my time spent in the Middle East.

This was the first step for the rebranding:

Logo rebranding for OASIS

Logo rebranding for OASIS International Hospital


One day I was in the hospital talking with a doctor whilst standing next to a board which had the list of the services OASIS Offered. The list constituted about twenty services and the doctor explained to me all the different and sophisticated machines for each of them. He insisted to put this infinite list on the website and all the promotional materials.

I was completely bewildered and lost in that huge hospital full of signs that didn’t help you understand anything. Technical and medical words, horrible deseases and complicated treatments. I am not a doctor and like a patient I don’t know and I don’t want to know technical and medical words until it is really necessary.

Back to my desk. I started to design some website mock-ups which incorporated elements of the infinite list. It was easy to realise the infinite list was the wrong approach. Working in that way I completely forgot about my user and the needs and expectations of his/her family: family, kids, women, men. This became the 4 elements of the organisation of the website.

Rebranding for OASIS

Rebranding for OASIS International Hospital



Next step was to analyse the advertising and websites of competitors. All of them used images of smiling doctors! My point was proven, people don’t want to be intimidated by scary words and terms, they just want to meet another human being who is there to comfort them and advise them in their time of need.

I always place myself between the two sides: inside the company and out-side with the audience. I went a step further than a smiling doctor. I wanted to reach out and emphasise the community. The doctor and the community were essential to the rebranding. We held events, during which we captured real photos of real people, satisfied and happy with the service they had received. This created a strong community and trust not just among patients but also among the staff.