I’ve also fucked up as a designer

Inspired by Nina Geometrieva’s article 4 ways I’ve fucked up as a designer, I decided to write about designing for payments in Nigeria.

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Well, at least I committed properly

In a couple of days, it’ll be one year since I’ve been designing for Paystack. I’ve co-designed the marketing page, set up the CMS, designed and built the merchant dashboard, internal dashboard, inline, standard payment screens, and also the payment pages. Everything.

In this time, almost 200,000 payments have been attempted on this thing. So, I should be able to tell you about designing payments for Nigerians, yeah? Well, nah. I really don’t know shit. And I should.

Here’s what I know though:

When I say tech, you say bubble. Tech…

Over the past few weeks, I’ve mused about the fact that most of us in the Nigerian “tech ecosystem” build products for our peers and know nothing about the average Nigerian. Yes, me sef. I realize that to design the future of payments here, I can’t remain in that thinking. I need to go out there to learn, understand the habits of my people and how to reach them.

There’s a reason our history books are missing…

Because we didn’t write them.

We are very popular for being able to use and modify, but not create. We’ve managed to continue that in product design. There’s hardly any research on user behavior, or notes on designing for people here. Most of the content I’ve seen about designing has been from global design firms or foreigners with grants to design solutions for Nigeria / Africa.

We stay in our silos pushing code and pixels, refusing to dig deeper or share our findings and solutions. I can’t remain part of it. I’ve run multiple open source projects before, and now it’s time to do that for design.

I will publish as much as can to help with commentary, and do research that needs to be done.

Everything they say is true…

Keep it simple, stupid. In Nina’s article, she says

As it turns out, different markets are at different phases of design evolution. That means markets which joined the internet or smartphone revolution a bit later, are now going through early stages of familiarization, and can‘t simply jump into advanced concepts like pull-to-refresh or swipe-to-dismiss.

Many more articles and books talk about keeping things simple. Believe all of them. Use basic interactions, simple layouts and explain everything.

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One example is Paystack’s popup payment screen. It had to evolve because

  1. People wanted to see a padlock badly. As far as they were concerned, how else is it secure?
  2. “Also, while you’re at it adding the padlock, what the fuck is Paystack” — People
  3. A good number of users were filling in the current date into the card expiry field. 😮


No shit, I believe we can all design our way to market penetration (as against fight over the small share of the internet Facebook left for us). We just need to be more invested in understanding the whys, and also willing to document, share and learn from going all out.

At least I need to.

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