When Jotie graduated as a Graphic Designer from LUCA School of Arts, the focus was 100% offline. Nevertheless, he was already intrigued by what was then called ‘multi-media’ and while not consciously planning a career in digital, his first job was at the ecommerce giant eBay. He followed this by 10 years as digital marketing & innovation lead at Brussels’ iconic music venue, the Ancienne Belgique (AB) where, as a client of Namahn, he discovered the power of Service Design. The experience convinced him to join the team.
What did the early days of ecommerce teach you?
When I joined eBay in Brussels, it was a tiny office of five people. Being such a small team, you had to do a bit of everything. Although I was hired as a graphic designer, I soon became involved in other domains. Digital marketing and ecommerce were just emerging, and eBay was one of the market leaders. Back then, convincing people in Europe that buying online using a credit card was safe was a major challenge! Another was re-branding eBay’s European sites to make them more attractive to local users. The look & feel was still very American, and this influenced perceptions. I had the opportunity to move to Berlin for six months and work at eBay HQ on creating a European Brand Book. We adopted a simpler, more Google-style approach and worked with innovative eye-tracking methods to test content with users. eBay was my first introduction to the world of user experience and it triggered my interest in human-centred design.
Why were you attracted to the AB?
Like many other people in Brussels, the AB is something iconic from my youth. When the AB advertised for an online manager I immediately saw this as an opportunity to bring all my passions together: graphic design, digital, music and Brussels! At the time, AB’s communications strategy mainly revolved around offline channels (posters, flyers, print advertising) and online was just a small component. Now it’s the exact opposite.
What digital innovations did you introduce?
From the start, I focused on developing our digital marketing strategy. Technology was evolving fast and we had to keep pace. The biggest change was social media and the rise of mobile devices. We knew it was important for the AB to be part of this story. As well as social media, I helped to introduce marketing automation, chatbots, online dashboards and live streaming on YouTube. We also automated internal processes and built our own smart Customer Relationship Management system to provide a more tailored experience for concert goers. Today, AB is recognized as a pioneer in the cultural world, not only for digital innovation but also ecology, from LED lighting, to bee hives on the roof, from encouraging the use of public transport by concert goers to ecological cleaning products and serving vegetarian food. This social engagement is very important to me and it’s something I also find back at Namahn.
How did you become a client of Namahn?
In 2014, I followed a postgraduate in user-centred design at Leuven University. There were plenty of great speakers but two stood out: Joannes and Olivier from Namahn. The content of their presentations reminded me that even at university I had been interested in being a designer who solves problems, not just focusing on aesthetics. I began attending Namahn workshops and the one on Service Design convinced me that this was a way to further optimize the experience of AB concert goers. I invited Namahn to give a workshop and together we looked at the customer journey, from buying a ticket to post-concert. Previously, I had always looked at problems or ways to improve from the inside out. Working with Namahn, we conducted interviews with customers and this brought an external perspective that helped to pinpoint new areas for improvement. I followed this up with a customer survey, also supported by Namahn. The resulting mobile website implemented all the recommendations from the interviews, Namahn and the survey. I was really happy to have done this project for the AB. It was my farewell gift.
What convinced you to join Namahn?
The whole Namahn ethos is about discovering new things. As one of the first user experience agencies in Belgium, Namahn is a pioneer. Now we are doing the same with Service Design and Systemic Design. It is the nature of the company and the people working here and it is grounded in open-mindedness and open dialogue. This matches my outlook: staying curious, engaged and open to new things, not only technology but also ideas and opinions. As a user experience designer at Namahn, I can continue learning while contributing my digital marketing skills and having never worked in an agency before, I also bring my understanding of what it means to be the client.
When you are not working, what do you enjoy doing most?
I spend lots of time with my wife and two young kids. We are passionate about Brussels and everything city life has to offer: concerts, theatre, good restaurants and cafes. Our favourite escape is a city trip! We are also keen cyclists and take regular cycling holidays, starting out from Brussels and seeing where the road takes us. It’s a great way to discover new places and meet new people. And of course, working for so many years in the AB also opened my horizons in terms of music; today I appreciate just about any style!