John is a digital product designer, currently working on Web3-related products at Composable Finance.

John has over four years’ experience in product design and a background in graphic design creating relevant solutions and solving problems. His aim is to use his knowledge of digital design, technology, and strategy to provide value in a clear, accessible, effective, and delightful manner.

Explain your job to a five-year-old

You know how we have to tell grandpa his phone is upside down on video calls? It’s my job to make sure its easier for him to know that on his own.

What’s something you wish you knew earlier in your career/life?

Time is your best friend. Whatever is going on, good or bad, will pass. So stay in the moment, stay consistent, and you’ll be good.

Is product design a career you decided to go into? Or did you stumble onto it? What else would you do, if you could?

It’s kind of a bit of both actually. 

I was into graphic design for a few years prior. I had started learning out of interest in 2018 and did a few things, but there wasn’t a process to it until a work opportunity came in 2019, and I had to figure it out on the job.

So it was a decision that I didn’t execute until I stumbled on an opportunity. 

If I didn’t do design, I would probably be a network engineer. I studied electrical/electronics engineering, so I kind of resonated most with that field. In another life or multiverse, I’d have probably done music as well.

As a product designer, what’s one misconception people have about your job?

There’s a lot, but I think the one that gives me the ick the most is people think it’s easy. If I had ₦10,000 for every time I heard the phrase “Is it not just design?”, I’d probably be a millionaire. 

Is there a difference between product design, and UI/UX design? 

The major difference is in the word product itself.

Product designers are expected to see design full circle, starting with the customer-facing angle; they are also more aware of business priorities than UI/UX designers. Generally, product designers are the ones who captain the entire design process as well, sort of like a design project manager.

What’s the one mistake startups make when they’re building a new product? 

I think it mostly boils down to not doing enough or no research at all. 

As a startup, you’re expected to move quick and fail fast. But if startups are not learning and researching the reason they failed, they’ll probably end up building products best suited just for family and friends.

Everyone says design is subjective, but are there objective ways to judge designs? What makes a good design or a bad one?

Design, in principle, is subjective, but in reality, good design is objective. 

I read somewhere that the Starship rocket that SpaceX launched was initially meant to have a round top. Elon Musk said he told his team to make the starship more pointy because of a scene from the movie The Dictator; he was asked if pointiness gives Starship an aerodynamic edge. He said, “It’s arguably slightly worse, but it looks cooler.” 

The story illustrates someone altering a design based on a subjective feeling, but the new design didn’t change the core function/problem the rocket was intended to do. And that’s good design in itself; one or more designers trying to solve a specific problem relating to the use/user. 

What’s one thing entry-level product designers should know?

You have got to put in the time and not just play around in Figma. 

Read! Expand your mind. Your biggest asset is your brain and ability to solve problems first before your beautiful UI design.

What (singular) achievement are you most proud of?

My work at Korapay definitely stands out, especially the checkout. Building the foundations for it, reiterating and seeing those iterations gradually improves people’s experiences and improve the business itself.

What’s something you love doing that you’re terrible at? And something you really do not like doing that you’re great at?

I love riding bicycles but I suck at it, maybe because I haven’t given it enough time. Because of recency bias, I’d say I’m great at throwing good parties.

Timi Odueso Senior Editor, Newsletters

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