First meetup in 2016

In 2016, one of my goals is to participate in lesser professional events but more actively in each one. At UXSG meet-up #21, my first meet-up in 2016, I posted the topic Designing for Global and Local Markets. As a designer working in product that spans over different markets, my initial thoughts were to understand what kind of challenges other product designers were facing.

In the discussion room, we had people from different companies working on both consumer-facing and enterprise products.

Challenges in our work

Communication with Local Resources

Country Managers often give feature requests that are unique to the market. However, designers have struggled to validate features based only on the country manager’s feedback.

Takeaway point: Country managers don’t represent the country’s demographics, so it is important to understand if the feedback comes from them or the users.

Language & Local Culture

Typographic problems include character spacing, line height,left-to-right, right-to-left rules. People translate copy without knowing the usage of its words. It is advisable that the translator sees the copy in context so that the translation communicates the right intent instead of a literal word-by-word translation. From my experience, a native copy writer is most ideal but someone in the office with good writing skills can be of great help to revise the copy and its translation.

On an e-commerce site, the goal is to help people gain confidence in the information displayed and make a decision to purchase. Information such as prices shown in large font size with clear contrast color are understood by user easily, and therefore creates a strong sense of transparency and trust in the business. However, in some currencies (e.g. Indonesia Rupiah and Vietnam Dong), price can go up to more than 6 digits from a 3-digit price in Singapore Dollar. How can we display price in a meaningful way and maintain typographic legibility?

For further reading, check out Chinese Website Design Patterns by Chui Chui Tan and Chinese Users Want The Same E-Commerce Experiences as Their Western Counterparts that address designing for trust on e-commerce sites.

Market Infrastructure

Transportation and payment in a country dictate how an e-commerce site handles its payment and delivery service. Do people feel confident with online transactions or would they prefer to pay cash?We should not only consider available payment methods but also people’s trust in payment infrastructure.

McKinsey’s report on Asia-Pacific Payments Map (PDF) goes deeper into the growth of different payment methods, including mobile payments which will have a big impact on e-commerce.

Design process to tackle these challenges

Research Tools

There are many quantitative and qualitative research methodologies that can be conduced remotely or face-to-face which fit different budgets:

  • Online (interceptive) survey: Prompt users to give feedback when they are using product. e.g. Qualaroo.
  • Online chat: Interview users when they are using the product e.g. Intercom.
  • Usability testing and interviews (remote or onsite): Find the right usability testing and research tools on Remote Research
  • Use MVP methodology (Google Venture sprint): Design, implement, test, iterate.
  • A/B testing: Decide which design results in a better outcome but may not answer question why.
  • Tracking: Look into users’ behavior by using event tracking, heat map e.g. Google Analytics.
  • Competitive research: Look into how companies in the same industry and similar companies in different industries that tackle the same problems.

Takeaway point: Validate your design hypothesis and effectiveness of design using quantitative and qualitative methods with an appropriate sample to scale to most important markets.

Work with people that understand local markets

  • Local office: Build a design culture in the company so that everyone, not just designers, care about how people use the product. Communicate with country managers to build a research plan.
  • Build a design team in local office: Ideal but requires an initial investment. Or you can just fly there and conduct face-to-face research.
  • UX consultant: This was an interesting topic as to when we should ask for help from UX consulting firms and what to expect from this collaboration. This could be a good way for in-house teams to learn from outside experts or a quick way to solve the problem with cost.

Ask these 6 Key Questions to Guide International UX Research before your next international research project.

More discussion

It was a great opportunity for me to chat with product managers and designers from other companies. We shared our experiences in solving different challenges. I hope to follow up this topic with more specific domain in the next meet-up.