Designing the future with Web3

Mary Alenoghena
4 min read
Remote Religion is a series which shines a spotlight into the life of a remote tech worker in Africa. We explore the promise and perils of remote work and how to navigate career transition.
In this edition of Remote Religion, we spoke with Aise Idahor, a Creative Director at Valist. We talk about his journey into product design, starting from frontend development and his current experience designing in the web3 space.

Hi Aise! It’s great to be speaking with you. Please tell me about yourself.

Hello! My name is Aise. I'm a product designer from Nigeria focused on simplifying user experiences in the web3 space. I have over 3 years of design experience and 1-year of front-end development before that. I'm a lover of good music, good series, marvel movies, and anime

Interesting. What has been your experience designing in the web3 space?

My experience has been an interesting journey so far. I started from a place of complete oblivion and it has been a road of learning, reading, practice, and sometimes hitting dead ends, especially due to the fact that there were limited learning resources. It’s been a bit challenging but aside from that, it's been interesting and fascinating as it truly makes you feel you are designing the future.

So how exactly did you get started in the web3 space?

I first got introduced to web3 by a friend. I struggled with joining for almost 6 months before finally deciding to take the step on this new path. In my attempt to learn, I couldn't really find resources that would guide me or a roadmap. A lot of people could not even explain the concepts, so I decided that one of the best ways to learn is by doing (it’s the way I’ve learned something in the past).

I started by opening up a trust wallet account and a Binance account. Once I familiarized myself with some of the basic concepts, like swapping and staking, I started trying to design similar features myself. I did this for months till I got referred to my first web3 role by the same friend.

I’m curious about your product design journey. You’ve shared how you got into the web3 space. Now I’ll like to know how you got into product design in the first place.

I got into design in an odd way. My first encounter with design was not tech-related. It was 3D engineering design with Fusion 360 and SolidWorks.

At the time, I found myself designing 3D models for final year students who could not do it themselves. It kind of came naturally to me then and I really enjoyed it.

I was also engaged in frontend development at the time. While doing this, I had a friend that was into UI designs. He kept teasing me about how he was cashing out and hunger was killing me as a developer.

I had no community, no dev friends, and no twitter. I was the only developer I knew asides from my online tutor, Jonas Schmedtman. So I decided I was going to learn UI from this friend to improve my development skills and marketability. The plan was to both design and build the sites.

So I started learning and found myself focused more on UI than coding, as I enjoyed thinking through products. Due to my growing interest in design thinking, I naturally wanted to be better at it. So I focused so much energy on design and to an extent neglected coding. It continued like that for a while and gradually design took over.

Wow! That’s amazing. I didn’t know you started off with frontend development. How long were you coding before exploring design?Yup, it was more for fun. I explored frontend development for 2 years. I had stunted growth because of school. I was chasing first class and my goal was to work in Shell😅. So tech was more of a side project that I joined because of passion and not really for cash or a career path then.

Do you think you’ll ever go back to coding?

I’m currently struggling to create time to learn new design skills like 3D and motion, so I doubt it.

Maybe I’ll code again when I have my own start-up. At that point, I can decide not to design and rather I'll code this or that. Also, the competitive rush won't be there because I’ll be working for myself and if the code brings too much headache, I'll call the CTO.

I guess time will tell. Coming back to design, how is product design in web3 different from that of web2?

They both hold the same foundation for a good design. Placing users first, prioritizing UX and simplicity in flow. However, web3 now comes with a lot of new terms, new features and has a lot of losses that can be incurred if not done properly. I'll say it's close to fintech design but takes it up a notch.

Due to people's lack of trust in it, you have to be very cautious. A lot of times in web3, you are building a first-of-its-kind product. So you find yourself researching a lot, with little user input on how they do things because they have never done it.

So your research is usually on how something similar in the web2 space is done and how it can be done with web3 tech.

Due to this, it's heavy on feedback and iteration. A lot of times, users don't know what they want before they have it. You need to be in the iteration and feedback loop as much as possible.

You mentioned earlier that your first web3 role was based on referral. That's awesome! Was that your first experience with working remotely?

I have always worked remotely, even before covid happened. I was still schooling at the University of Benin (Uniben) but was working for a company in Lagos, so I had to be remote. It feels normal for me to work remotely.

Considering you've always worked remotely, what’s a typical day look like for you? (what hours do you work? What are your routines?)

My day typically starts around 7 am. I struggle to get up from bed till almost 7:30 am. I start with a glass of water and 30min light exercise. Then I open up my todo tasks that might have to be spoken about on stand up and get that done.  After that, I basically work with the most pressing tasks, be it full-time job or gig. They both have deadlines so the most pressing one gets my first attention.

I usually take a semi rest of 2hrs in the afternoons. It can be between 3 pm to 5 pm. Then resume work at 6pm. My stand up is usually 7pm so I prep for that and ensure I have my backlogs met. 7pm to 8:30pm is spent on my first meeting. The next meeting is 9pm to 10pm and then it's a wrap for me. Any other work is now personal.

An average work day + personal learning can be 12 hours on a fair day.

That’s a pretty intense schedule you have.Yeah, I’m trying to level up fast to be Google, Apple Or Microsoft standard. Or Binance as per crypto space or Protocol Labs standard.

With such an intense schedule, how do you manage power and connectivity?I have an inverter. I also have to buy like N1000 worth of fuel daily 😮‍💨. My internet sub goes up to 300+ GB on a fair month. I just call this my transportation money as if I was going to the office.

Considering you work long hours, I’m hoping you find time to relax and have fun.  What do you do for fun?I try to. Especially on weekends. Once a month on Saturdays I force myself to go out to anywhere. I also spend some Saturdays watching movies and playing ps5 with my siblings.

Last year, I started going on a vacation every 4 months. My next vacation is to Rwanda in August for like 2 weeks.

To round up, do you have any tips or advice for someone starting out in design? Or transitioning to web3 design?

Prioritize UX! Take your time to learn the terms used. Web3 is not as hard as people make it, it's just strange to you because you haven't taken the time to learn it.

Web3 started from the tech and is only now being used to solve user problems. So, there are a lot of things you need to learn about the tech in order to know how to improve user’s experiences. Learn about the possibilities the tech provides and use that to now take the game to the users and design from their perspective.

Thanks for sharing these Aise. Got any plans for your future?The plans I have for now are to be good enough to join a FAANG or one of the biggest players in the web3 space. I also want to help the design community in web3 while working towards my final bus-stop of startup ownership.

Awesome! How can people connect with you?People can connect with me on Twitter @Aise_Idahor or LinkedIn

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