Benjamin is a multidisciplinary designer at Bureau Benjamin mainly known on the internet for his site designs but his passion for products is not new since he created his first project when he was 15 years old.
How did you get started as a designer?
I started designing out of necessity. I deeply wanted to create something and I remember one day my dad came home with the 03 version of Photoshop. I was so fascinated, I spent 3 days looking for the rectangular marquee tool.
What is your favorite part of the design process?
The beginning of a project, the excitement coming from all these possibilities that open up to you. Knowing you can design something as quick as you can share it with thousands of people is simply amazing.
How do you stay inspired?
I stay up to date with the latest trends not only in the digital field, but also in fashion, 3D and architecture. It brings new perspectives and hierarchies to my work. I have the feeling I can combine colors and materials with specific messages. It opens a lot of doors and gives me a breath of fresh air within a web that is getting more and more standardized.
You were more into designing websites that designing products before, why did you fully switch to product design?
I've always been attracted to both. Product design appeals to my entrepreneurial thirst. I am a big supporter of the designer/entrepreneur model embodied by companies such as Airbnb and Pinterest, where design is at the heart of strategy. As defending your ideas is a full-time job, I had no choice but to switch completely.
Can you share more about the company you started when you were 15?
At that time I came across a desktop text messaging app. It was kind of a hacker thing where you could personalize the text sender and pretend being someone else. I instantly thought it’d be cool if brands could communicate using their name. I started digging into how SMS technically works and came across an English operator offering text sending through HTTP. After a few emails and a prepaid account of 200$, the “Smsbox” project was born ! A friend of mine was into web-development at that time, he took care of the whole php/database part. I handled design and integration and set the prices (randomly, of course :)). A few years later we were sending over one million text messages per month.
Why did decide to start a company (Nuage) in the domain name category?
Probably because I had 120 domains that I just couldn’t let expire year after year ahah. More seriously, registrars interfaces are awfully designed : complex purchase flows, unclear management of DNS, redundant information. Something had to be done.
Nuage is a bit less than 1 year old, how were the first months? What did you learn that you didn’t except?
We’ve had many surprises. We had a great start and reached 5000 users and 20 000 domains within a few days. We’ve learnt a lot of things : how to start a business in the US as a Frenchman, how to raise capital, how to build a team in 2017 and much more. Things change so fast, nothing can be taken for granted, you have to keep a cool head. You learn how to communicate, work, find your business model and sustain it over the long term. The world of startups is too often idealized, reality is completely different.
How do you see Nuage evolving in the future?
We think website creation services and clouds are changing the way domain names are used. Registrars need to evolve and we would like to contribute to driving this change. We are now working on a “Nuage connect” widget that enables services to connect any domain in one click. Our mission is to simplify this industry, make sure people won’t waste 48 hrs for a domain setup anymore.
In your opinion, what makes a good product?
/frenchtroll The gradient on the homepage. A product that uplifts user's mind. No matter if he is a creator or an executor, the user should be enabled to learn something new thanks to it.
I know that you're into coding at the moment, what are your favorite tips for getting better at coding?
What’s your favourite/random thing on the internet you keep coming back to lately?
Lately I often visit Nicelydone, mostly for their patterns. <3
A question you'd like to ask to someone?
I’d like to ask an important question to the webdesigner of Nicelydone : do you use Sketch or Photoshop ? Ok, don’t answer it.
Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you’d like to share?
Paris is a beautiful capital city, full of energy and talented people. The Silicon Valley is not the only place to be, people should come and see it with their own eyes, the city has plenty of skilled designers and engineers. It’s important that we share it and say it out loud!
What’s your top 3 favourite digital products and why?
- Intercom : It offers an amazingly smart solution to the problem of client support. Chat services have existed for a long time, they’ve managed to reinvent them.
- Pinterest : it’s simply powerful ! Several years have gone by but I’m still using it.
- Dropbox: I love the way they manage their product ecosystem. Dropbox paper is a good example of how to explore new possibilities without completely transforming your business.
Many thanks to Benjamin for answering my questions. Check out more of Benjamin's work over at oursroux.com, check his product Nuage and follow him on twitter @benguedj.