Design at VentureDive

At VentureDive, we take pride in housing one of the best design teams in the region, and arguably the best in Pakistan. But getting here was not easy.

While I am not a designer by training, I had the good fortune of working with some of the best design teams in the world during my stints in Boston, San Francisco, and Berlin, and thus developed a keen interest in design. When we started VentureDive — with the vision to create a world-class technology organization and an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Pakistan and the MENA region — I knew that great design would need to sit at the center of our customer value proposition.

Design in the Silicon Valley

Back in the United States, it is second nature to most technology companies to have a strong emphasis on design. I was accustomed to seeing designers as some of the most articulate members of the larger team, and they had the first and the last say in most discussions. A few factors that contributed to their active participation are as follows:

  • They had a holistic sense of the product and the customer
  • Their thoughts were a lot more structured
  • They seemed to take the charge in cross-functional brainstorming sessions, often organizing topics on the agenda and corralling people around those topics
  • They were great at capturing and drawing up notes in a structured and visual fashion

It was with this expectation about the role of designers in a tech organization that I moved to Lahore in October 2014. However, I was in for a rude awakening. I had a steep learning curve with regards to local norms and talent pool.

The rude awakening

The greatest challenge we face is finding the right talent. A few reasons follow.

First, there is often a mismatch between designer titles and corresponding job descriptions. I often received resumes of folks calling themselves Graphics Designers, Front-end Designers, Front-end Developers, UI Developers, Web Designers, Web Developers, etc. Many of the job descriptions and capabilities differed from what I had gotten used to in Boston and Silicon Valley.

I once hired a “Front-end Designer” who turned out to be a “Front-end Developer” — I, of course, should have known better at the time of the interview. That said, it became very clear to me in the first few days and weeks that design was not his forte. When we discussed his performance, then only he opened up saying he doesn’t like designing but loves front-end development.

Second, very few people knew how to design experiences. Local universities rarely teach designing user experiences for a digital world, and the closest exposure students typically get to UX is “Graphic Design”. What further compounds the problem is lack of jobs where designers can take a lead role in designing digital experiences and products: They are often either following a product manager’s lead or designing nice visuals for social media and other forms of communication!

Design at VentureDive

Fast forward a little over four years, we already house one of the most competitive design teams in the region.

A little more context on our business. We develop solutions for our global clients, build in-house products, and invest in product-based start-ups. For designers specifically, we encourage rotation between Products and Services. As such, we don’t have a title called Product Designer. However, when on a product, a designer is generally needed for a longer time frame, and that’s also when they create the most value as they iterate their way through releases and metrics. On the other hand, in our Services org, we have less of a need for a designer to stick to one specific project for a long period (though we do have a few long-running engagements).

We believe that this healthy mix of engagements helps the design team learn different facets of design than what they may have learned if we were building a specific product or delivering services only for example.

With this thought in mind, we traced out three major facets of an organization that help nurture a creative design studio — all-around exposure, performance-driven and collaborative culture, and thought leadership. Let’s dive in.

All-around exposure

Design at VentureDive plays a pivotal role in many aspects of running the organization, growing our business, and defining our culture.

  1. Our designers dabble with varied aspects of business such as analytics, marketing, and growth hacking. Having an in-house products team helps us hone in the science and art of growth that we then apply to help our clients master growth as well.
  2. Much of the office interior and decor was either designed or consulted and in some cases procured by designers. Designers play a central role in the creative aspects of most events we conduct in-house or off-site.
  3. We believe designers should span across several functions within the field of design, and only a few specialties should be called out. Secondly, we tend to distinguish our developers from designers, while at the same time offering a path to those who are good at both.

To this end, we have created a rather simple and flat array of designations where we only have UX Designer, Visual Designer, and Web Designer titles, and no dedicated Interaction Designer, Graphics Designer, UI Designer or User Researcher to name a few. We encourage our designers to cut across domains while at the same time allowing them to specialize in particular fields like Visual Design for instance.

What do I mean when I refer to a UX Designer, a Visual Designer, and a Web Designer?

UX Designer is an all-encompassing role and frequently rotates between Services and Products. Technically speaking, those UX Designers who can code CSS and HTML could be called a different title — however, it is rare: once a UX Designer, they are encouraged to expand their horizon within the design lifecycle: Research, Synthesis & Ideation, Prototyping & Design, and Implementation.

Visual Designer is meant to specialize in graphics and visual design. They also help with branding and identity design with the help of content strategists and marketers (the latter two are part of the marketing team). Using social media plug-ins for analytics, these visual designs help improve our social media presence with intuitive designs.

Web Designer can do Visual Design as well as code CSS/HTML. In my experience, there are very few folks who have a good design sense and can also do good coding. Consequently, we rarely have people fitting the required profile, but when we find them, we know what to call them.

We encourage Visual Designers to become either a Web Designer or UX Designer. However, they can continue to specialize and grow in the capacity of Visual Designer as well. Moreover, Front-end Developer can also choose to become a Web Designer and thus become part of the design team.

This may sound a bit contrary to our philosophy of cross-functional work, however, in my experience in the local industry, we have plenty to learn within the field of design. Venturing out is welcome, but generally in areas that are outside the software development and higher up the stack— i.e. things like product management, growth hacking, marketing, etc.

Performance-driven and collaborative culture

Here’s the question most organizations ask but only a few get away with the right answer:

“How to drive performance upwards?”

While many things come to mind, our objectives setting and appraisal system plays an important role and is closely modeled after OKRs (Objectives and Key Results).¹

  1. Set stretch objectives. It’s OK if we miss them, as long as we keep aiming for them, and at some point surpass them. This requires a hockey stick function at some point of our organization or product lifecycle.
  2. Level up, keep improving. Every 6 months or so, carry out a self-assessment exercise to keep a track of the design team’s progress. Discuss the results and improve on any point where the team may be lagging.
  3. Reward people on a geometric or a nonlinear curve. This way, people who perform well are rewarded way more than if they were to be awarded proportionally to someone who performs less.

Lastly, through daily stand-ups, regular design review and critique across initiatives, sharing design inspirations and UI refactoring exercises across projects, we foster collaboration and spur innovation.

Thought leadership

Unlike most local software companies, we typically take a lot more proactive approach with our customers. For example, with Careem, we played a pivotal role in the design and product management for at least four years since its inception. We are often helping customers make sense of how users are using the product via funnel analysis. Since we also have a Products org, our designers are often involved in decisions and analysis of growth hacking for example. Last but not least, we often conduct Discovery Workshops for a varied and complex set of customers — ranging from Fortune 500 companies, fledgling startups, and unicorns.

Within Services org, we have started to take on more design-led engagements as opposed to end-to-end technology solutions. This allows us to solve complex and interesting design problems that we may not have had a chance to work on if we were offering an end-to-end technology solution, where design is an important but not the only piece of the puzzle.

Looking ahead

While many challenges remain, the entrepreneurial and design ecosystem has improved in many ways. More universities are incorporating aspects of digital user experience, and there are a lot more product companies than there were 4–5 years ago.

At VentureDive Design, we see the following big things happening in the next year and beyond.

We have incubated quite a few product teams in house. At least two of them are ready for the next growth phase. This will result in the expansion of design function not only within those teams but also the design team at large.

Within our services and consulting business, we have expanded to broader aspects of user and customer experience design. For example, we now offer services for Identity Design & Branding, Service Design, and User Research to name a few.

Last but not least, while we do run hackathons and design mentorships in the industry from time to time, we plan on introducing an initiative focused on building a strong design community. While there are a few welcome design initiatives in the country already, we believe that with the backing of an organization and broader focus, ours will be one of its kind.

design at VenD

¹ Our objectives setting system differs from OKRs in two key ways: i) they are not publicly visible to the rest of the organization, and ii) we link them to performance reviews.

Rebranding VentureDive


“It was a day just like this, around 8 or so years ago,” a smile of nostalgia spreads across his face as Atif Azim, CEO of VentureDive, takes a sip of cold-pressed mango juice. “The four of us were hanging out after our day jobs in the Silicon Valley, and despite being friends since our days at Stanford, it was that day we realised we shared a common dream.”

Meet the founding friends — (L to R) Shehzaad Nakhoda, Atif Azim, Saad Fazil

Lahore’s scorching sun is blazing through the window of the local cafe, as I enjoy the company of three of VentureDive’s co-founders. I had been asking them questions about the company, as part of a brand exploration I was doing with my team.


“The idea was to utilise Pakistan’s untapped technology potential, and innovate to improve lives, globally,” Shehzaad continued. “We started a venture fund. Some of the earliest ideas were weak, but we kept at it,” adds Saad. “Soon we became involved in the brainstorm for Careem. Shortly afterward, IslamicFinder became a part of our adventure too, and there was no looking back.”

As I listened intently in their comfortable presence, watching them share anecdotes, cracking inside jokes, and laughing, I couldn’t help but appreciate how rare it is to come across such emotions and affiliations in the technology and business world. Yet, at VentureDive, this culturepassion, and purpose have trickled from the founders all the way down to the roots of the organization. This, right here, is VentureDive’s identity.

Technology meets care

What happens when technology meets care? Truly inspired solutions spark to life.

It is simple, really. Yet, despite the IT industry being saturated with technology solution providers, businesses are still yearning to connect with an innovation partner that actually and truly cares about solving their problems.

VentureDive combines cutting-edge technology, design, and strategy with everything that is human — empathy, care, and friendship. We are continuously and relentlessly ‘innovating to improve lives’.

Why Rebrand?

Simply speaking, our existing brand identity did not sing our story anymore. There are three important aspects of our brand that have evolved.

Firstly, VentureDive’s portfolio of services has expanded. While we began as a tech startup with expertise primarily in Platforms and Mobility, we are now a full-service technology, data, design, and consulting organization. In addition to being a one-stop Mobility shop, we are actively working in the FinTech, HealthTech, and Cross-Reality (AR, VR, MR) space. Our Discovery Workshops, including Product Design Sprints, Prototype Development, and Business Case discovery, have helped numerous MNCs reduce the risks inherent in successfully bringing products to market.

Secondly, for over 300 innovation experts that make up this company, VentureDive has become much more than a workplace: it has become an institution for inspiration, learning, growth, and well-being. With the launch of VenD Labs, VenD Learn, and many more upskilling initiatives, VentureDive is fast emerging as one of the best workplaces in Pakistan.

Thirdly, as VentureDive grew, our design elements, personalities, and narratives started to grow also — but in different directions. Whether it was font usage, color palette, graphic styles or tone of voice, our identity started to become incohesive, inconsistent, and indistinct:

Speaking more specifically about design elements, the most evident problem was with our logo:

  • It was not scalable: Construction using fine lines posed serious challenges in terms of visibility, a problem further aggravated due to the usage of colors that lacked depth and contrast.
  • It had incorrect capitalization: VentureDive was incorrectly written in the logo, with a lowercase V & D.

It was easy to fix line weights and colors and try to make it work, however, the vision was to highlight our story (The VenD Way) through our branding. Hence, we embarked on a journey to rebrand.

Staying True to Ourselves

The honest to goodness heart and soul of a company are always found in its origin story. We started uncovering our story by talking to various roles of people at VentureDive and asking them key questions: How does VentureDive improve lives? Why should the world care about our brand? Who should care about our brand? What is our brand promise?

As our story revealed itself to us through answers collected from interviews, we identified 4 key aspects of VentureDive’s personality to bring to life in our new identity:

The Result

We translated these findings into a gamut of logo iterations, that converged into a logo we instantly fell in love with.

Naturally, we were drawn to the hexagon. A shape that has the unity and extensiveness of a circle, as well as the definitive angles of a polygon, the hexagon is arguably one of the most sacred symbols of geometry. It symbolizes harmony, balance, and empathy. For us, the message to be conveyed was clear. VentureDive brings a balance between the two extremes: technology and empathy. Our “onwards & upwards” mindset is perfectly embodied by an upwards tilted arrow. Thus, the Vengon was born.

Our color palette mirrors our balance, with a combination of dark and bright colors. The dark shade of blue we call VenD Promise, exudes trust and stands for the excellence of our craft, while the bold red called VenD Passion stands for our energy and the human connection with our customers and our people.

For the secondary palette, we continued with a set of vibrant colors that can communicate our brand message clearly.

The end result is a scalable brand identity that is a true reflection of our vision, mission, craft, and values.

The Future

VentureDive’s rebrand took almost 10 months, with cross-site teams working across design, marketing, and communications. It was a labor of love — but, quite understandably, no easy feat.

We are grateful to the entire VentureDive family, including our customers and partners, for your feedback, critiques, words of encouragement (and bear hugs, when we needed them the most)!

This is just the first step for us. As a living, growing, ever-evolving brand, VentureDive will continue to iterate, innovate, and improve. In the coming months, we are expanding our brand guidelines further and you will see all our collateral aligning around our fresh new look. Please stay tuned, and thank you for being with us on this journey.

Impact of good UX design on business growth

Who wants to use an app that is hard to understand, difficult to use, and aesthetically unpleasing? The answer is no one! 

Do you, as the owner of a software business, hesitate to invest in UX design? Hesitate no more! Research by McKinsey proves that great UX design provides impeccable user experience, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, business growth. 

When it comes to bringing in revenue and growing your business, UX has a significant part to play. It not only adds to the functionality of the software and products you develop for your customers, but it also enables you to filter and select the right functionality and helps boost usability by applying knowledge of various domains like human-factors, psychology, systems, sociology, etc., resulting in smooth and intuitive user journeys. 

The impact of a great user experience goes beyond the short term benefits and can be extremely beneficial in the long run as well. There are a number of ways it can positively influence your business. Let’s have a quick look at some of the factors that are the direct result of good UX design, and will boost your business.

Save money in the long run by investing in UX at the right time

In a study by MITX in 2009, it is estimated that user experience design contributes to saving 50% of wasted development time. So what’s the right time to invest in the UX? The short answer is, it’s before you begin developing your product. Doing so would make your development efforts more efficient, targeted, and structured. 

If you ignore the UX in the initial stages or will keep it at the backburner while you perfect the product core, it would cost you time and money in the long run. You will have to keep revisiting the design to accommodate the users’ needs, preferences, and perfect the user flows and navigation. This would consume a lot of development time and finances, which is easily avoidable if enough time is spent on finalizing the UX design in the pre-development phase. 

According to WebFx, investing $1 in your site’s UX will give you an ROI of $100 in the long run. This means, today, we can’t prioritize aesthetics over functionality or vice versa, so your product needs to be beautiful and functional simultaneously. 

Boost sales & revenue with effective UX design

Focusing more on UX will help increase user engagement, and hence, boost conversion rate as well. This means, more and more users would turn into customers, resulting in rising sales as well as revenue. 

Research conducted by Toptal shows that 90% of the users will continue shopping because of great UX. It’s highly likely that your users will opt for your competition if they have a bad experience with your product or service. This could be anything from complex navigation, difficulty in conducting a search, not knowing where you are at a moment, to generic (not customized) content, repetitive pop-ups/interruptions or distractions, and so much more.

 Therefore, it’s always a good idea to optimize your product or app for mobile and web by prioritizing UX design. 


According to IEEE study, 5-15% of all development projects that are started will be abandoned before or shortly after delivery due to poor usability. This amounts to $150 Billion lost. This loss can be avoided with a user-centered design approach.

Stand out from the crowd on the basis of user experience

User experience is a deciding factor when it comes to differentiating from your competitors within the same niche or industry. Enterprises, SMEs and Startups around the world are embracing good UX design and banking over the benefits that come along with it. 

Invision Design’s research shows that 94% of the first impressions of a website or app interface are related to design. This is why industry leaders like Google, Amazon, Airbnb and others have shifted their focus towards delivering a user experience. 

In 2020,  customer experience has become the front and center of software applications, whereas pricing and the product have taken a backseat. Let’s list down some ways in which a good UX can help your brand stand out:

  • Good UX means customers will be less likely to switch brands. 
  • A great initial impression means visitors are more likely to return to your website. 
  • Higher brand credibility stems from good design. 
  • Average time spent on pages would go up. 
  • Personalized content & experience would help boost conversions.

Improve customer retention with enhanced UX

UX design is all about the users. So it’s essential that the designers think like users and incorporate features that can help make the user flows more intuitive. It’s always a brilliant idea to map out the customer journey before beginning the UX design and product development. 

Users should always have a way to orient themselves during navigation of the website or product. This adds to a good user experience. If these things are taken into consideration, customer retention is more likely to increase. Some factors that boost consumer loyalty and help a brand retain them are:

  • Personalized experience on a brand’s website or product. 
  • Web pages and images that load in the shortest possible time.
  • Detailed contact information is available to the users. 
  • Availability of informative content and resources relevant to your product and services. 
  • Great customer service, timely responses, and a quick and simple way to connect.


You can improve the user experience of your product by doing the following:

  • Conduct thorough research about what your users want and what their pain points are. Ask questions from the user’s point of view and evaluate your design: “Would I be satisfied with this product if someone else created it?”
  • Keep the sign in, sign up, or any forms in your website or app as easy as possible. Enable features of signing up with Google, Facebook, etc.
  • Never let customers think too much, get lost, or confused while using your product.
  • Never underestimate the power of good aesthetics. Always research, take inspiration, study color psychology, and patterns when it comes to design

Stay relevant with continuous UX iterations

The Tech industry is evolving rapidly. Brands need to constantly update their outlook as well as product offerings in order to stay relevant to what’s next. This means continuous iterations are essential in order to future-proof your product’s design and core functionalities. No design is ever perfectly complete – if it stays stagnant for too long, it grows out of date, which results in a big drop in customer engagement, and hence, your revenue and profit. WebFx says that 75% of your product’s credibility comes from design. This means, if your design is not up to date and in line with the user experience trends, it can affect your product’s authenticity and customers are less likely to buy from you.


  • Conversion rate can increase by 400% with strategic, thoroughly researched, and intentional user experience and design
  • Mobile optimization is becoming increasingly important. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, it will give users a bad overall experience of your brand
  • Even an investment of $1 in design can bring about a profile of $2-100 in a business

Wrap up

Closing the argument, it suffices to say that good UX design impacts your business greatly, especially in times when customers are at the crux of product experiences. If users have a positive experience with your software or application, it essentially means your product is successful. In keeping with this, if they have a not-so-impressive first impression, they are likely to never return to your product and even more likely to choose your competition over you. If one interaction defines the purchasing decision of customers, it’s easy to imagine the magnanimity of the importance UX design holds in software development. 

At VentureDive Design, we keep user experience design at the heart of everything we develop and deliver to our customers. Our brilliant team of designers are always hard at work, ensuring that our clients face little to no difficulty in navigating applications, all the while delivering experiences that augment their journeys, and leave a lasting good impression. 

This way, the users don’t just convert to become our customers; rather, they know they are investing in a life-long partnership, where we are their friends who will enable them to offer immaculate product experiences to their customers, and help their business grow.  

icon-angle icon-bars icon-times