Design freelancing in the Middle East just got easier with the public beta launch of Design Hub this past week.
Simplicity rules the day on the site, which showcases the portfolios of web, graphic, and interior designers, as well as architects, in sleek picture-laden tiles. Geared for easy browsing by potential clients, it’s fun to flip through during your lunch break just to enjoy lush images of design work.
The face that it only focuses on hosting portfolios makes the concept deceptively simple as well. “Every user who looks at the site wonders why no one has this before in the region,” says founder Nabil Shaheen. He was inspired to start the site when we was looking for a web designer for a project and simply couldn’t find a good one on short notice.
Now he’s built one that any freelancer can sign up for in three minutes. Designers simply select which price category they fall into, and begin uploading their portfolio. All a user needs to do to find them is select which city and type of designer they’re searching for.
The dead simple interface, designed by his co-founder Rami Obeid and developed by Excite Design Interactive is “probably our greatest asset,” says Shaheen.
The basic model is ideal for small businesses, he says. “We’re not targeting large companies, but rather SMEs, startups, and individuals,” both as clients and freelancers. Sign up is free, but designers who pay a premium receive a larger tile with more images on the homepage, as well as a featured spot on the site’s blog as Company of the Month.
The site’s closest competitor may be Jordanian freelancer network TasmeemME, yet Design Hub differentiates itself by focusing solely on displaying portfolios, not on hosting a marketplace, says Shaheen. Clients are free to contact designers directly.
The company plans to market themselves simply on social media, adding AdWords later. It’s solely an online service; on-the-ground recruitment is not part of the model.
Since launch last week, freelancers are steadily coming on board. After getting 150 pre-launch sign-ups, it has tens of active freelancers thus far, and is getting commitment a day, says Shaheen.
If Shaheen’s past is any indication, the project has promise. In his last job as Director of Operations for a telecommunications company in Australia, he was part of a team of 7 that grew the startup within 18 months to company of 140 employees generating $60 million in annual revenue. Yet, he was inspired to return to Lebanon and join the startup scene here.
He’s committed to making a product that the entire region can enjoy, he says. Design Hub’s Arabic interface will go live soon.