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Design for life

Design for life May 14, 20151 Comment

It’s hard to forget 1990. That’s the year my four siblings and I got our first game console, the Atari. I was all over it. Atari inspired the spark that drew me to the digital world.

I grew up playing video games and because I could draw, I saw myself working for the likes of Disney. I remember telling my friends, as our car sped over the third mainland bridge in Lagos, Nigeria, on the way home from school, that I would not become a doctor or an engineer.

In 1999, the family got connected to the internet. I was captivated by it. Getting to chat with people from all over the world was amazing. Thanks to my older brother, I taught myself to use CorelDRAW and Photoshop.

A few years later, when I was ready to go to university, there wasn’t a suitable option I felt would lead me into the digital world of gaming or illustration, so I narrowed my choices to architecture and psychology. My dad came to the rescue and told me that digital was a growing industry, so I signed up for a programme called ICT, which later became communications engineering. I became an engineer.

While at university, when I wasn’t in class, I spent so much time on Photoshop and CorelDRAW that I became known for graphic design. I joined the media unit and helped publish our first university newspaper, the Hebron Times. I also designed my university’s first graduation billboard while helping to create the computer club. More and more, I began to see how I could pursue a career in digital.

After designing in my personal time, I decided to explore the career options in design (not engineering) during my industrial attachment year. I met with some animators and illustrators who had started a media house, and I thought it would be a good place for me to be.

One Sunday afternoon, I was at a fast food outlet with one of my colleagues-to-be when armed robbers burst in. I couldn’t believe what was happening until the guy with the gun pointed it at my head and told me to get down. Lying face down on the cold floor, I watched my Macbook and wallet fly into the robbers’ goody bag.

I was traumatised, but grateful to be alive. All my hard work was gone and I couldn’t bear to look at any design software for almost two years. After earning my engineering degree, I began to spend a lot of time on the internet. I started blogging in 2005, joined Facebook in 2007 and Twitter in 2008.

I came across designers like Jonathan Ive and Tim Brown. When I read about IDEO, I knew that this was what design was meant to be, beyond graphics or the visual. That was the kind of designer I wanted to become. I found a school, the one both Brown and Ive went to, which had a good multidisciplinary design MA course and I applied.

The programme led me to understand what user experience (UX) meant in design, and how it could be applied to any aspect of our world. I was very happy and since 2009 I have been practising UX in digital. I guess you could call me a digital native.

One thing I’m passionate about now is spreading the message of UX to startups and individuals. The internet and social media have made that possible as people find me through my blog, which allows me to connect with them, wherever they are in the world: Nigeria, Ukraine, the USA.

I feel very privileged to have been able to identify what I wanted to do very early on in my life and then pursue it. This is part of the reason why I’m curating at Platforms For Women, to help young women clearly see their options and give them access to the people who will help them get there.

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About the author

author_template - Antonia
Antonia Anni

Antonia is a user experience consultant with a design and engineering background. Originally from Nigeria, she now lives and works in London. She has worked on design projects for Pluralsight, US Bank, Salterbaxter, BBC, Audi, Gamesys, Mars inc., Ladbrokes, Percy Hedley Foundation among others, and seeks to share knowledge by mentoring individuals and startups. Antonia enjoys blogging and currently manages more than five active blogs with topics ranging from fashion to politics. She also enjoys illustrating, travelling, volunteering, video-gaming, debates, music and books. Antonia is passionate about how people can develop themselves positively and is exploring the intersections of personality, race, gender and the workplace (tech, teams, the environment). Antonia is also a contributing blogger for Digital Women UK and will be interviewing female-led startups, reporting on tech trends, breaking down UX for the uninitiated, and will contribute to our Geek Corner slot.

Find out more about Antonia here, or on Twitter: @tonianni

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