Doing UX in Argentina, 10 Years Later

14 December 2016

In the fall of 2006, Adrian, Nora and I spent a whole day in a hotel in Pilar (northern suburbs), sharing thoughts and ideas on how to create a “modern” digital agency. The 3 of us had devoted the previous years of our careers to working for the same company: Yahoo!, in areas that constitute the three pillars of every digital product: content, design and technology.

That day, the idea that a few months later would materialize into Giro54 was born. At that time .com domains were complicated to come by. All possible 3-character combinations were registered (we made a program that checked domain names automatically). We had a lot of fun coming up with names for our company, the one that stuck in my mind is “Granadero Bailarin” (“Dancing Grenadier”), an anagram of our 3 first names, which we decided was a bit out-there. We picked Giro54 because it combined the idea of change and evolution with the telephone country code of Argentina.

We started working in an apartment in Nuñez with a simple idea: to offer our clients (potential clients back then!) the same development methods for digital products used by the leading companies in the world, integrating the needs and goals of real users, developing software with modern technology and agile practices, adhering and taking advantage of standards, and above all, tackling challenges head-on. Not offering copycat solutions, but immersing ourselves completely to solve the problems at hand with original solutions.

Our first clients were puzzled when we talked about UX, personas, functional requirements and content inventories, usability tests, sprints, information architecture and sitemaps, interaction design, wireframes (this one continues to raise some eyebrows even today), search-engine optimization (SEO), metrics and Google Analytics. We are forever grateful to them for having trusted us, giving us the chance to start this journey.

A short time later, we moved into a “real” office in Belgrano. There, our first employees came on board. Some came from afar. It was not easy to find job opportunities in UX back then. Projects became bigger and more complex and we began to define our own processes, adapting them to the corporate culture “down here”.

Meanwhile, Google acquired YouTube and Android, Apple gave birth to the smartphone industry with the advent of the iPhone, concocting the explosive cocktail of devices, technologies and services that transformed the way in which we communicate, have fun, and work forever: Facebook, Twitter, Kindle, WhatsApp, iPad, 4G, Netflix streaming, Spotify, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope.

Some local entrepreneurs came to us with some bizarre ideas: “let’s make TuTubo, the argentine YouTube”, “we want to be Digg in Spanish” (does anyone remember Digg?). Luckily, other projects really crystallized and allowed us to keep growing.

A couple of years went by and we moved again, this time to Palermo Viejo, to the office we are currently in. The global financial crisis brought new clients looking for quality work at competitive prices. We launched our first mobile apps for Android, iOS and Blackberry (debut and farewell); websites ceased to be static to become “responsive” and adaptable to many device sizes.

Change and innovation, this time dressed up as Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Internet of Things, keep encouraging us to adapt and evolve like we have been doing over these 10 years.

On our tenth anniversary, we want to seize the opportunity to make a pause and thank the people and companies that allowed us to partner with them along this journey.

Thank you!

Nora Blanco & Gabriel Celemin

Giro54