The Decline of Product Design Jobs in Nigeria

About a year and six months ago, shortly before the Covid Pandemic hit Nigeria, Product design jobs were on the rise. You can’t go a week without seeing at most 2 to 3 job ads. Back then, it was just a matter of salary remuneration and the company’s standard in case you ever thought of leaving your current job. These days, you only see two job ads a month.

SO WHAT HAPPENED!!!!!!!!?

1. The Pandemic Happened

Before the pandemic, Full-time Product designers had little time to take up Freelance jobs. Why? Because they were too busy avoiding traffic all day, this could easily be centered towards Lagos alone, but Lagos, as we know, it is the Capital of Tech in Nigeria. There are more tech job openings in Lagos than in any state in the country. That being said, a good number of Full-Time Design Gurus spend at least 6 to 8 hours in traffic.

When Corona hit Nigeria, a lot of Tech firms had their staff work from home. This development created a new work lifestyle for Full-Time Designers. Now, Contractors would rather contract a Remote Working Designer from an Established Company than a Freelancer because they feel they have more experience and bring more value and quality to the Project.

I handled four projects within the first three months of the lockdown, which resulted in not touching my salary throughout that period.

This new style changed the Design World completely. It reduced the number of Freelance jobs and their taxing charge.

2. Product Design is the Easy Way to Tech

As the lockdown continued, it had a catastrophic effect on the economy, forcing young Nigerians to learn new skills, irrespective of their school discipline.

One primary sector that wasn’t affected was the Tech Industry. In fact, one could say things began looking up. Most young individuals would log in to their favorite social media accounts to escape boredom.

Originally not used to virtual meetings, companies started to open up to the idea of virtual meetings. They had to incorporate Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet to handle daily standups. People began to realize that the world was going digital and the only way to survive was to go with the world. As we all know, most Nigerians don’t like stress and would instead take the easy way out.

And what was the easy way to get into Tech?

Yes, you guessed it! Product Design!!!!

Now it’s not that product design is easy, however, working professionally in Nigeria didn’t require much. All one had to do was pick up a beginner course online on Figma or Adobe XD, replicate a few designs on dribble and Walla!

You are good enough to work professionally in the Nigerian Tech Space.

The situation of things negatively impacted the sector because it resulted in Aspiring Product Designers not doing enough research and learning to fully understand Product Design. This reduced Design skills to basic skills in the sight of Startup Companies. They started to believe that Product Design is just slightly above Graphic Design (no disrespect to Graphic Designers).

The Product design space was flooded with half-baked designers and forced the reduction in Salary remuneration and job offers.

3. Devaluation by Startup Companies

Generally, most tech companies would invest more into Developers than Designers, but Nigerian Tech firms took it a step too far. They would either hire low-demanding designers or force their front-end developers to learn Product Design. Who could blame them though, when the more significant designers are not up to standard.

So now we have companies that don’t value Designers and Designers that don’t know their worth because they lack proper foundations.

ANARCHY!!!!!!

Most of these relationships are short-lived. We begin to have cases of the Development and Branding team playing significant roles in Product design, telling the designer what to do and what not. The half-baked designer would also believe this is how things operate because he or she doesn’t know the right way.

So now we have a problem which needs fixing

What do we do?

What are the solutions?

I will give you a few of them.

1. Taking Proper Foundation Courses

Aspiring Designers should seek knowledge and understanding before jumping on a design tool. It is best to understand the foundation of design before learning your favorite design tool.

You can check the following design courses:

Also you can read up this article to understand the comprehensive guide of Product Design:

https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2018/01/comprehensive-guide-product-design/

2. Go Beyond Design

As you improve in design, it is also essential to know other areas or sectors that guide a successful product.

Knowledge of Agile methodologies, Product Management, Programming, Branding, and Marketing would improve your Product Design thinking.

These skills will also improve the value of Product design and change the mentality of Most tech firms, believing it’s just a basic design skill.

You can check out the following courses:

https://www.udemy.com/course/bootstrap-4-from-scratch-with-5-projects/

Product Design is the foundation of any Digital Product. With Product Design, you can scale how successful a Product idea would be.

Akwe Samuel

What other problems do you think have lead to the decline of Product design jobs?

What do you think can be done about it?

Please leave your likes and feedbacks.

Thank you

Hi, My name is Akwe Samuel. I am 29 years of age. I hold a Bsc in Computer Science. I currently work as a Product designer for Sterling Bank.