In December 2011, I accepted the chance to study Industrial Design at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, which at the time was the best university of technology in the country. However, I would step in through those gates with little or no knowledge of design.
While my idea of Industrial Design was basic at best, I have always had an enthusiasm for the aesthetics of things. Like how I made decisions to buy items, especially biscuits, based on the beauty of their wrappers; based on which of the designs resonated more with my aesthetic sense. If it wasn’t beautiful, I wasn’t buying it. So, it wasn’t necessarily about the quality of the actual product that lay within. For me, it was about the quality of what was housing the product — Design.
During my 5 year program in Industrial design, I would learn about Brand Design, Sketching, Three-dimensional design, Computer Programming, Animation, and other related courses. However, as we took the courses at one level or the other, I was able to quickly determine which ones weren’t my calling, the top of which was computer programming.
The courses I found interesting, I quickly took my understanding a notch higher. And as a relatively unskilled student, I worked extra hard to get better at them, as was probably expected. I found myself building skills and creatively applying all I learnt by working on designs during my free time. As I developed capacity in these areas, I took up pro bono jobs for students and individuals in the school, thus firming up my expertise.
Most of the babies I birthed during these 5 year period were banners, flyers, signboards and so on.
Designing a New Path
After school, I took up a Graphic Design intern role. Again, it was a basic role, a slight upgrade on what I already did in school. But I decided it was a great place to start, to hone this skill I had already started to develop.
In truth, I enjoyed my graphic design role at first but eventually, I got tired of the things I did. Everything became annoyingly routine. All I did was centered around kindergarten activities like designing posters, web banners, social media ads, magazine pages, novel covers, as well as administrative tasks like setting up files for printing.
I developed a deeper thirst for skills expansion. Especially when I thought about the fact that this was not what really pushed me into choosing Industrial Design in the first place, however green I was at the time. Building on my interest in biscuit wrappers, I had also nursed the idea of being a designer for tech products. And at that moment, there was no way I could become one.
Sometimes, I put that period of my career down to my focus in graphics design while I was at the university. But in retrospect, too, it has in a way contributed to my growth.
While I sought to water my thirst for growth, my research would lead me to the discovery of UI/UX design and I soon figured out that with the increase in tech interest, it was in high demand for developing products specific to targeted consumers with great usability.
I was definitely interested.
Making The Switch
Armed with a new found energy, I researched on how to start as a UI/UX designer but I would get discouraged most of the time as almost every tutorial and guide I encountered online was Sketch-based — which was not suitable for me because I used a windows system.
Things took a different turn a month later when I got a mail from Stutern (an online platform that connects interns with employers) asking me to be trained as a UI designer. According to them, I needed just four weeks to get a headstart into the world of UX Design.
But… I needed to complete a task before I could become one of 12 exclusive candidates that were going to take the course. In a nutshell, I made the final list out of 2000 applicants. Again, my Graphic Design background served as a springboard here.
At Stutern, it was a different playing field, where a focus was placed on research methodology, something that has now become the bane of my designs. Attention was placed also placed on behavioural elements of the career, especially team leadership.
Life as a UX Designer
I got employed immediately after the training to Longbridge Tech, a software design lab where I was able to grow my skills and learn more on the job. I am currently working my second job as a Lead Product Designer at Seamfix, a leading software company with a focus on building Identity Management platforms. Here, the work is a bit more robust and contributory to my career as a UX Designer, from designing wireframes to user research, creating prototypes, and collaborating with product managers and marketers to develop usable products.
Now, as I continue this journey into the UX Design universe, I am constantly documenting certain projects I have worked on. On one hand, it is a testament to how far I have come. On the other hand, it is proof of my abilities as a professional UX Designer. These projects can be found on mobolarinwa.com. I hope you have a great time coursing the website as much as I did when creating the designs.