08 March 2022
12 Mins Read
Seyi’s Journey; From Balancing Sheets to Implementing Pixels
I’m Oluwadare Oluwaseyi, a front-end developer. I’m currently working towards increasing my skill level as a creative developer and working on seamless design experiences, animations, 3D designs; all that stuff.
Oh, interesting. How did you transition into software development?
I started my journey full-time in this field immediately after my NYSC camp. Initially, I was a member of the ‘Developer Students’ Club’ at Lead City University—which was where I schooled. I attended classes organized by the club, but for the most part, I was lost. You know the way people always talk about “going into this coding thing to see how it goes”? That was me at the time. I attended a few classes and I relapsed.
I picked it up seriously in 2020, during NYSC. I worked as an Accountant in a company for 2 months and it was extremely boring—no offense to Accountants but I just didn’t think it was fascinating enough. I decided to take Tech seriously in early 2020. I wrote a thread on Twitter to help track my accountability.
At the time, I co-owned a fashion brand; Pith Africa, and a friend of mine, Bethel designed an application for us. I reached out to her because I noticed that she was building really amazing stuff and that was what I needed as a drive. So, I started creating a road map for myself. I already knew a little bit of CSS and I created a Trello board where I input everything I do or I’m working on. I also liked the idea of having mentors, but I felt like I would be disturbing them, so I picked it up on my own.
It was just Bethel working with you right? Or was it just you alone?
Bethel is a designer; we were like a two-man team then. Initially, I reached out to her but she was busy with school and couldn’t respond. I had to text her again and ask if I could take a stab at implementing one of her designs. Before then, I had already done some random things with CSS. She gave me feedback on the first design I built, and I got better. After some time, we did the second design.
I don’t like writing code—I know it is surprising that a developer says he doesn’t like writing code. I do more learning than actual code writing. I think it is something that has really helped me. I took the whole of 2020 to focus on my craft and understand how some of these things work, understand how layout CSS works, which is the most important thing. I did a couple of projects with Bethel and after some time, she introduced me to prototyping and animation. I like to think that Bethel has contributed the most to my growth, I know it feels weird because she’s not a developer, but she is just that person for me. That is basically how I started off and how I came into tech.
You finished with a first-class in Accounting and you are also a Chartered Accountant. What was people’s reaction when you made the decision to drop accounting for Software Development?
The reaction was weird. My case was like “I like numbers, so let me do accounting”, and I was doing great at it, so people were surprised when I made the switch.
I didn’t even make the switch to Software in school. It was when I was done with the whole degree chasing that I decided. It surprised my parents, to be honest, especially my dad. He was already talking about his friends he would talk to concerning getting a job for me; he already set up some possible PPAs for me. It was just a lot. Generally, it took a while for them to get used to it, but I had their support 100%. My dad doesn’t fully get the concept of remote work yet though.
So you work from home?
Yes, I do. I think he is going to get it as time goes on though.
You learned Software Development very fast. What influenced this speedy growth?
I do things to prove a point to myself. So a quick story; ICAN has diet programs, and every diet, they give awards to the top 3 people in Nigeria. I am not one for awards. I joke a lot in class because classes are usually boring, and this particular lecturer asked if I was sure I’d pass the diet exam because I seemed like an unserious person. I decided to prove a point. That was the diet where I was one of the top 3 people in the country.
One thing that really helps me is my planning, I don’t do a lot, but I make sure I stick with my plan. This is something I learned as an Accounting student, the importance of planning and following due process. I guess that was the discipline that helped me in Software Development. I didn’t even know I was going to be a Software Dev, because I went through different aspects in Tech and it felt like I would be a better fit in software development.
Talk about your engagements with Paystack, Perxels, ColorsNG, and basically the companies you have worked with so far.
During the EndSARS protest, I reached out to Bethel to design a website for Feminist Coalition and also find a female developer to build it, but she said she wouldn’t do that if I wouldn’t be building the web, so I agreed. I went out to protest, but I also wanted to make my voice heard in other ways. So, Bethel designed the web, and I built it. It looked boring, so I added some animations to it. I sent it back to Bethel, she posted it—and I think it was from there that someone from Paystack, Tomi Odunsanya, reached out to me on WhatsApp, told me there was a project coming up and he would like us to work together on it. I still see myself as a Junior Developer; I am not where I really want to be yet, so it surprised me how that happened.
How about Perxels?
Talk about your work with ColorsNG and your latest obsession with plugins.
Aanu does really good prototypes. In February 2020, He designed a calendar prototype in XD and posted it on Twitter, I recreated it in React. I built it and I quoted it with what I built. The idea was “I’m not a designer, so why not replicate it with code”. He liked it, he followed me and we had some interaction; I didn’t really know him personally.
In January, he said he wanted to build something for ColorsNG and I didn’t think twice before accepting. One of the things I really wanted to do this year was to build open-source tools for designers, it was a plan for me this year. I decided to build a plugin for designers, open-source tools to make their lives easier. So, when he reached out to me for the website, I knew it was an opportunity to help designers and I jumped on it.
So, what is the motivation behind creating resources for tech communities, and should we expect more of that?
Yes, definitely, expect more of that.
I try as much as possible to help. I want the foot of my impact to be evident in the Nigerian Tech space. I have a folder in my visual studio code titled “open source”. One thing that pushes me is when I take one step, it is a motivating factor. When I created the folder, I had an idea of what I wanted to do. I did some research, I know there are a lot of open-source tools for developers but I was thinking that designers are often left out and it’s not the most ideal situation to be honest. If you’re going to make people’s lives easier, let’s just make everybody’s lives easier.
I feel the goal for me is to really make an impact in the community — focusing on the work and focusing on creating the best tool Designers can use. So, you should definitely expect more.
Describe your best designer to developer handover process.
It definitely has to be Paystack. They do really aesthetically pleasing stuff. For handing-over, there’s always a sort of mini documentation, there are some basic design systems, then they have pages where they have different comments.
Basically, it is like a worksheet detailing how the idea for a particular layout or page came to be, that way you understand the thought process behind the design. I think my best handover was with Paystack.
What do you think about the designers learning how to code debate? What’s your thought about that?
It’s the reverse for me. I think FE developers NEED to learn a little bit of design. People attack me for this, but thinking about it from a rational point, design is definitely a part of development.
Development is not just about building hand-offs, and not caring about the user. As a Developer, if you’re really going to care about the user, you need to understand design and some basic principles of UX, I feel it’s very important.
Some developers speak about Designers coming up with Designs that are impossible to implement. What’s your take on that as well?
My take on that is that anything is possible. I mean that has been shown countless times.
If you go to some sites, you’ll see implementations that will scare you, but at some point, you just have to run towards it. I feel like some FE developers tend to run away from hard designs. Some designs are really complex to get through but you just have to try to look into it and tackle it.
What’s your Stack like? What are the languages that you write in?
I don’t like Angular, that’s a fact. However, I am always comfortable diving into any other stack; I don’t like confining myself within a particular stack. If I join a company, and they say that I have to learn, say VUE, I am fine with it. I practically learned VUE because someone reached out to me for a project that was due in January and I started learning towards the end of December. I enjoy learning and exploring and I try much as possible to explore and not stick to one thing. I learn as programmatically as I need to.
What are the things you think designers should do better and the ones they should stop totally?
So for starters, stop showing your workings in the main design, that’s just horrible. It’s like submitting your rough workings rather than submitting the answer script itself. Nobody is going to mark that. Designers do it a lot. There should be some professionalism on the part of the Designer.
Another thing is stacking PGs next to each other based on the flow—if they can’t be stacked against each other, then you should probably try to prototype it. Let me see what leads to where and what you are trying to achieve.
Industry-standard companies make use of developer documentation—the basic component of their code, and they try to componentize everything they use. This is something more Designers can and should incorporate in their workflow.
Then, design systems, please use them. It is to aid consistency. I feel consistency is important because if you want to achieve almost pixel-perfect designs, the designer has to be consistent to an extent. Another thing that I feel is important is to leave comments on your design files; it really helps to understand your designs. Mudia does it a lot. Leaving comments on the designs helps me understand the designer’s thought process and what they are trying to achieve.
Another thing that might help is if there is a very complex layout, I want to see how it looks on mobile. As much as I can, I will try to implement it, but I am not a mind reader. Let me see what you are trying to do.
The no-code zone is emerging fast. What are your thoughts on that?
No code is amazing, I mean if a client needs a landing page, or they need something with very little functionality, bro, why am I stressing myself writing the code??
It’s just like designers and Canva too, why are you threatened by people being able to design basic stuff themselves? Honestly, just focus on doing better work and moving up the ladder. Leave that ground for higher places, please.
Seyi is constantly building amazing products. You can find out more about this brilliant Developer here
This interview was conducted in March 2021.