Welcome to the second entry in our “Meet a Blockchain Developer” series where we – you guessed it – meet a blockchain developer. This time we’re meeting Michael Sueoka, who actually isn’t a blockchain developer. But he works on our product team and does UX, so we’re gonna interview him anyway. For the first entry in this series, check out our interview of blockchain dev Enddy Dumbrique.
First thing’s first. Name and title?
Michael Antonio Yoshio Velasco Sueoka, Director of User Experience
Wait, what? Why do you have so many middle names?
So I’m half Japanese and half Mexican. My parents wanted my names to reflect my heritage. So one middle name is Japanese, one is Mexican, and one is my Mother’s maiden name. It’s kinda like information architecture labeling. My kids are gonna have as many names as they have cultural identities.
Wow, OK. Well I hesitate to ask, but do you have any nicknames?
Yep, I’ve been called Yoshi, Mikey, the Brick, and Seuokatron.
The Brick? Sueokatron??
Haha, yeah. The Brick and Sueokatron are both from my time playing sports where I was just like a machine, an immovable object, no one could move me. Also, my girlfriend calls me Miguelito when she’s pretending to be upset. It means little Michael.
Alright, on to more important matters. What was your first impression of blockchain when you heard about it?
My first impression was that its just another buzzword. Basically, it was a technology that tries to do the same thing that we can already do but in a different way. I saw it as another attempt to make up new words for the same thing.
Has your opinion changed?
Yes and no. Blockchain is definitely still a buzzword, now more than ever. And there’s still a ton of hype around it. But I understand how the technology can be valuable now, and there are people and companies that are actually trying to use it to make things better. That’s what’s exciting.
So how did you get involved with blockchain?
I first got involved by putting money into like 12 different cryptocurrencies. That led me to build a website for buying crypto. I just wanted to make it easy for everyday people.
You bought 12 different cryptocurrencies, huh? How did you do?
Not great. Still in the red. But better than some people.
Does your mom have any idea what you do?
Haha, she has no idea. She doesn’t even know how to use a laptop. She always thinks she’s been hacked. Trust me, she hasn’t.
If you had to explain what you do to your mom, what would you say?
[awkward pause]…I work in tech.
Haha, that’s it?
That’s about as much as she’d understand. If I had to say more, I’d say I help make websites easy to use.
How would you assess the current user experience of blockchain-based applications?
It’s horrible. That’s the reason I wanted to get into the space. We’re at a point now in blockchain where even small enhancements make a really big difference. In new industries, it’s usually the engineers leading the way. It’s very functional. It does what it’s supposed to do, but it’s not easy to use. The next phase is when average people can start using blockchain technology. That’s what I’m here to build.
So what drew you to Lucidity specifically?
I came to Lucidity because we actually have a product where the concept makes sense. A lot of blockchain companies are just really good marketing companies that don’t have a product. This is different. This is an opportunity to really learn about what blockchain can do.
What do you think is a common misconception about blockchain?
That it’s just cryptocurrency.
If you had one tip for aspiring UX designers, what would it be?
Have confidence in your ideas. When I was teaching UX at UCLA with Jaime Levy, we did an excercise where all the students were tasked with solving the same problem. Everyone came up with their own ideas, and they all worked to some extent. The takeaway was that there is no right answer. If you have an idea, regardless of whether it’s good or bad, you need to implement it and improve upon it. There is no perfect answer. It’s all about making a decision and testing that decision – over and over.
Would you say you took a conventional road to get to where you are?
Not at all. I came to be in UX almost by accident. Years back, I started both an Internet marketing company and a design agency. The Internet marketing company taught me about analytics and data, and the design agency obviously taught me about design. But I wanted to find a way to synergize both. That’s when I first heard the term “user experience.” It was an epiphany. That was what I wanted to do: use a combination of design and data/research to enhance how people use technology.
If you weren’t doing UX for blockchain technology where do you think you’d like to work?
Maybe education. I like helping people learn. Also, potentially politics… but I wouldn’t want to run for office. I’d want to be someone who tries to bridge the gap between differences. Help bring people together.
What’s your favorite thing about working at Lucidity?
The people. I already knew half the company, but everyone (both new and old) is still awesome.