I'm Presh Onyee, a 22yr old Product Designer based in Nigeria, Western Africa. I'm currently looking for new opportunities. I gathered my first experiences at a startup where I learned a lot and evolved quickly.
Intentionality, long term bets, consistency and trusting the process are principles that govern my approach to work and life.
I'm proficient in interaction design, UX strategy, and rapid prototyping. Knowing to code helps me accelerate the feedback loop between design and engineering, especially in a small team where speed and agility matters. I contribute my engineering skills to help my team create working prototypes and explore a lot of ideas quickly with real data. This creates the opportunities for solid business decisions.
If you are not a fan of plain biographies and would rather go through a lengthy FAQ format, here's an in-depth read. I interviewed myself 😁;
I got introduced to computers and the internet in 2008 at age 11. I played a ton of games and messed around in Photoshop. I built my first site in 2010 and got a little more serious with Photoshop. I started my first design business in 2013 making and selling cartoon portraits, YouTube channel intros and outros like this one, and Twitter profile backgrounds.
In this period, Instagram was a huge driver for my business and in the cause of using it to promote my business I came across UI designs. I thought "wow...these are graphic designs but for websites and apps", they always looked beautiful and I was hooked. I wanted to design something like that.
In 2014 I learned a lot about tech, smartphones, computers and programming. I started Windows C# Development and later figured 2yrs after in 2016 that the web not Microsoft was the future. I documented those events here and here.
I switched to web development in 2017 and met UI design again, this time I read a lot of blogs about it, but never practiced. In the summer of 2017 while in my 3rd year of college, I skipped going on a compulsory 6-months internship to go work for a newly formed startup as a Software Engineer.
A team of 8 - a CEO, CTO, Legal Adviser, and 5 Engineers with no single Designer. At our first team meeting I asked;
Me: "What of the UI/UX?, Who does the designs? 😕".
CEO: "The UI/UX is nothing, I'll do the UI/UX"
Me: "What? 😲", "Besides, what tool are you going to use?"
ME: "No way...Photoshop for UI in 2017?" (I had read Sketch was the king. Adobe XD just came out of beta!!!)
It was in that moment Design found me 🔥.
Getting to work at a startup with an amazing group of people doing meaningful work was eye-opening for me. I never wanted to return to school after such an experience. I eventually dropped out.
At a startup, things really moves fast and you are learning quickly. Half the time, I didn't know what I was doing. I had to teach myself after work hours through online courses on LinkedIn, Mock projects, Treehouse, Blogs, Books and Facebook groups. I learned a lot and grew ultimately.
After three (3) months of learning on the job, we had to hit pause on the whole project because I advocated we do actual user research. Meeting with potential users and hearing them share their problems, thoughts and feedback exposed us to a lot of unmet needs we had to cater for.
More importantly, I learned a lot about validating assumptions, user research, customer acquisition, business model, lean product development, team-work, empathy, listening, and intentionality.
By trying things out. It's really that simple.
This is a question I continually ask myself and I'm constantly refining my answer. It's hard knowing what kind of designer I want to be either philosophy wise or craft wise. The good thing is I know the kind of designer I do not want to be.
I don't want to be the design pundit that knows how every successful product is built in the head because he never actually built one. I wrote on more of this here.
As a developing country - Nigeria, a lot of industries here are embracing technology at a very fast pace and I strongly believe the technology industry in Nigeria is going to be a space with lots of interesting people's problems to solve. Solving these problems at a small or large scale is something I want to be a part of and why I'm passionate about this in the long term.
In the short term, I'm excited designing for communities and businesses.
One powerful thing the internet has done in over a decade is that it gave everyone a voice. With the internet we get to amplify more of our beliefs and the truths that shapes who we are as individuals. This changes everything. Designing the tools, products and services that people use within this space is incredible. It puts so much responsibility in our hands as designers.
One very good thing about this that has personally affected me a lot is that this helped me move from studying books one time to studying people continually. The end result of this is that I've been directly influenced by people who shape my framework of thinking, learning and growth regularly.
In no particular order. If I had to pick only one, I'd say Julie Zhuo without missing a beat.
Intentionality! Intentionality!! Intentionality!!! Julie Zhuo is my ultimate design hero. Approaching problem solving with intentionality, and making sure the problem being solved is actually a people's problem are the two most invaluable thing I leaned from her. I continue to learn from Julie Zhuo regularly.
Johny Ive made me understand that "the design and the making are inseparable", and the importance of delivering a solid end-to-end experience in building products. It made me embrace code more and get better at engineering.
Because of this, my time at a startup was more valuable as we were a small team that needed to move fast and having designers who knew how to code helped accelerate the feedback loop between design and engineering.
Being a designer that knows how to code has truly made me a better designer.
I learned a lot about listening from Simon Sinek. Not just cliché listening, but listening intently, more than just to respond. Practicing this at first was hard.
At my first job during our initial team meetings we always had heated arguments and debates. Everyone was mostly 'status seeking' - the urge to sound smart was all over the place.
Through continuous practice, I learned to listen intently, more than just to respond. Although I caught myself falling short sometimes. I also learned that sometimes, someone has got to give.
From her time at Airbnb as Director of Experiences to her current work at Lyft, I learnt so much about designing for offline experiences from Katie Dill. For companies like Airbnb and Lyft, designing a great experience for Guests/Hosts and Drivers/Riders extends beyond smartphone apps. Learning about the nuances involved in these are really insightful.
I owe a lot of my initial learnings about user research to Sarah Doody. With help from her writings and Youtube channel, I could confidently lead a team to conduct user research. Incredible.
Sarah Tavel's early work at Pinterest as a Product Lead led to a lot of practical learning on designing for user engagements. Designing for user engagements is something I'm still learning about but 'The Hierarchy of Engagement' was a great start for me.
Microsoft's cultural change since Satya Nadella being at the helm will go down as one of the greatest shift in corporate culture in modern history. Designing products for many people not like you requires empathy. Learning and practicing empathy is a never ending process and Satya's take on empathy is very much inspiring. I learnt a lot from his book 'Hit Refresh' and I've taken those learnings with me till this day.
Panos Panay's storytelling and presentation skills are on a different level. He talks a lot about how technology should adapt to humans, fade to the background and not get in the way of creating. His work with the Microsoft Surface team over the last 6 years has been truly amazing.
Thank you so much for reading through to this point. Thank you ❤.
Have a great day ✨.
Holla 🙋🏾♂️ and Shalom ❤.