Tell us something about yourself.
Hi. I’m Gershon Flaisher, 36, a happy father and a good friend. I’m a senior designer and art director at MyHeritage. I graduated from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design (in Graphic Design) in 2007 in Jerusalem. My passion is design, specifically typography and interactive design. I’m a typographer and avid font lover. In my free time, I enjoy drawing, collecting maps and playing the saxophone.
How long have you been working at MyHeritage?
I’ve been working at MyHeritage since February 2013. Previously, I worked at a branding agency where I designed visuals for many different companies. It all started when I bumped into an old classmate on the street. We had studied design together at university. He told me that he was working at a company called MyHeritage and that they were working on some exciting projects. It sounded interesting, and he told me to come and meet a few people on the design team. One rainy day, I came into the MyHeritage office and, from the moment, I walked through the doors, I was impressed. I felt good vibes, and the office itself was designed to be comfortable and homey. It gave me the feeling that this is a place where I’ll be treated as a family member, something that I was hoping to find in a workplace. People said hello as I walked through the halls. Each interview was with interesting people who were all so nice and warm.
What stands out at MyHeritage over other workplaces?
Every day at MyHeritage is a good day. You interact with coworkers that aren’t just colleagues. Everyone opens up, and you know what’s happening in their lives, how their children are, etc. All conversations start with “How are you?” or “How was your weekend?”
You used to work at a branding agency, how does your work differ today?
I thought that it would be a challenge coming from a branding agency where I designed campaigns for many large companies such as Nike, Mercedes Benz, Strauss Group, and others. There we would work on short-term projects that would then be printed or go online. When the project was done, we’d move on to a new one, working on another brand entirely. At MyHeritage, we always work on one brand, one company, and with the same co-workers. You build long-term relationships with your colleagues, and you all work together towards the same goals. As a graphic designer, this also presents more of a challenge. We’re always looking for ways to reinvent the MyHeritage brand, to improve the interface and make it more user-friendly for our users. As a company, we’re always moving forward and looking to offer more than we have in the past. It’s amazing to see the design evolve over time and to improve the look and feel of our products. It’s especially gratifying when I’m at conferences, and I can answer questions from users and to receive feedback on the design.
There is a sense of thinking out of the box. We have a brand with a logo and colors, but each time that we have a new feature or product, we get to explore new ways to present it. A great example is an image that I worked on for our revolutionary technology Book Matching, that automatically researches individuals in our family trees in our vast collection of digitized historical books. I think that our users enjoy seeing our designs because they’re always fresh and exciting. Each new feature that we come out with isn’t just another day at work for us; it’s exciting for us as well. We get to think of ways to show that in our design.
What have you learned about your own family history?
Since joining MyHeritage, I’ve been able to grow my family tree six generations back, and fill in many holes. I found ancestors that I didn’t know existed and received photos of them. I was contacted through SmartMatches by a relative who knew my grandfather. My grandfather moved to Israel in 1906 from Austro-Hungary and settled in the 1930s on a small farm. He passed away six years before I was born, so I never met him. The cousin remembered my grandfather from his multiple visits back to Romania to visit the family. He was able to tell me about him, and it was incredible to hear stories about my grandfather when he was young.
What have you worked on that you’re most proud of?
If I had to choose one thing that I’ve worked on that I’m really proud of, it would be the registration process for new users. We understood that asking new users to add basic information about their parents and grandparents when they sign up can greatly increase their chances of receiving matches with existing MyHeritage users, allowing them to discover ancestors, relatives and never-seen-before photos in just a few seconds. We didn’t want to overload new users with many forms and screens. It was a design challenge for us to make it easy-to-use and user-friendly. It’s all about how you place things on a web page, and how you let the users experience the process. It was a success. We were able to achieve what we set out to do and helped users make discoveries easily.
I also love working on internal projects. When we recently expanded our offices, I helped our founder and CEO Gilad Japhet choose prints to be hung on the walls. When there are employee fun days, I enjoy branding the events and creating flyers. I like being able to contribute to the warm atmosphere that we have in the office and that I have appreciated from the first time I walked through the doors.
Tell us about an experience with MyHeritage that impacted you personally.
This past April I joined the MyHeritage team at the WDYTYA Live conference in Birmingham, England. It was such a unique experience for me, to be able to interact with our users, something that I don’t often get the chance to do. I enjoyed meeting users on an individual level and guiding them on their family history journey. I was able to see how individual users use our products and experience our designs. One woman sat down at our booth and started telling me about her Irish roots and how difficult it has been for her to find details about her grandmother. I was able to give her some leads into collections on our site that could help. When you design a web page, you receive statistics of how users use a certain page. To see the genuine reactions of users, who are using pages that we designed, really gave me some perspective. When I see that they appreciate how user-friendly our site is, it makes me happy to know that I was involved in its development.