What is it like designing in Africa?

Designing experiences that matter means you are concerned about every individual that interacts with your visual solution — the client, the user, the engineer, the device. As designers, we sometimes struggle to find a balance. In a poverty capital, it is harder. It even becomes difficult to find advocates for usability, accessibility and beautiful aesthetics.

Branding took a long time before it got accepted as an important process of building successful companies. Although it is improving, you’d be surprised at how many businesses still fail to grasp the value of effective visual identity. ‘Hustling’ have slowly superseded the need for it. The apathy of ‘Political Principalities’ seems to have really spread wide.

As Designers living in Africa, we don’t like to talk about it often. When we hear of how IDEO, Accenture, tech giants and other design advocates use this tool to make positive impacts, socio-economically, this makes our ears tick. We want that for businesses as well.

Survival comes first. Designers need to survive as well. So do engineers, QAs, CX managers, Marketers and other cross-functional departments within the business. As insecurity and poverty increase, it becomes increasingly difficult to find Design advocates. Businesses don’t have the luxury to put such ethics in check because… We. Need. To. Survive.

If our goal is to put food on the table. We have to trade something valuable in return for food. As a business, you have to provide something valuable to customers to grow such a business. And you do this by putting resources together to create value. So in simple terms, customers are how a business survives.

Customers experience this value in many ways and visuals are by far the largest. I mean, how else can customers know more about your solutions and their corresponding benefits? So practically, the role of design is very important. Designers need to find a seat at the table of business decisions to ensure very effective, impactful and delightful visual experiences.

Imagine if you woke up tomorrow and can’t remember your last birthday party. You can’t remember how you felt when he knelt to propose. You can’t remember how it felt holding that baby for the first time. Imagine if you can’t even remember the password to your phone.

We can’t ignore the role visual experiences have to play in our lives. It is the data we can’t live without. It is always amazing how well we can remember the feeling even if we forgot the experience. Hot or cold, angry or sad, good or bad. It is this binary-like data that we really can’t live without. And it is dependent on other sensory data for its conclusions; visuals being the largest.

We innately crave better experiences. As businesses, we need to provide better visual experiences. As designers, we need to advocate more of this.

I help brands and product teams Build, Design, Test and Ship data-driven, emotionally intelligent, digital products and experiences.

I help brands and product teams Build, Design, Test and Ship data-driven, emotionally intelligent, digital products and experiences.