The massive size of the Chinese consumer market makes it attractive for Western companies to enter it. But entry is one thing. Once the legalities are in place, a whole world of challenges opens up.
For example, many Western companies have assumed that merely translating their offering into the target language will be sufficient. However, localization and designing with the user experience (UX) in mind has become essential.
In this article, we specifically explore advanced strategies for facilitating a great Chinese UX. Let’s take a closer look.
What is a user experience?
A user experience can broadly be considered the user-friendliness of an app, website, product, or any other point of interaction between your customer or intended audience and your brand. From the call-to-action buttons on your website, the text size you use to the colors on your site, the use of local models, local prices, and more—each of these elements come together to create a user experience that can make or break your business in a foreign market.
Advanced strategies for designing a UX to resonate with diverse Asian cultures
When it comes to Chinese UX specifically, there are many advanced strategies that can be employed for the successful deployment of a product or service offering in China. We take a closer look at these below.
The first and perhaps most obvious difference between China and the West is language. The Chinese language is considered logogrammatic. Through rectangular shapes and varying strokes, we have Chinese characters that can symbolize a range of different meanings. Meanwhile, in the West, we have comparatively shorter alphabets with which words are created. Perhaps one of the most important things when it comes to designing for Chinese UX is to consider the language.
Physically, Chinese characters can take up less space on a website than English words, for example. But this taking of less space shouldn’t mean that space isn’t optimized. In fact, Chinese users prefer to receive a lot of information on a single page to make an informed decision. This greatly contrasts with Western websites that have a minimalist design.
Furthermore, because a single stroke in the Chinese language can change the meaning of a character, it’s advisable and a best practice to enhance the user experience, a font size of 12 or more should be used with your online assets. Furthermore, there is no spacing in Chinese characters, there are no capital letters or italics, plus there is a much smaller variety of fonts to choose from.
Another cultural aspect to consider is that of color psychology. In China, certain colors have different symbolism attached to them. And when these colors are combined, they can create a great user experience. Colors that are associated with luck, wealth, and happiness include red, yellow, and orange.
Other favorable colors include purple, green, and blue. In addition, they speak to the Chinese users’ superstitions and beliefs and that’s why, although the use of many different colors on a site or app may seem chaotic to a Western user, it actually enhances the user experience for a Chinese consumer.
Other aspects to consider are the interface elements of your user experience design. For example, gamification is a big part of Chinese culture where there’s great emphasis placed on luck and winning. If your website or app can incorporate such game-like aspects into the user interface, you’ll be much better able to draw in a wider Chinese audience.
As part of your user experience research for Chinese UX, you also need to factor in that Chinese users prefer a high-context product and interface as opposed to a minimalist one. Although this can add greater levels of complexity to your offering, it’s one that will also ensure your users in China are properly communicated to. This necessarily means providing greater levels of context, animations, seemingly “cluttered” design, and more.
Furthermore, optimizing your Chinese UX should also factor in the collectivist as opposed to the individualistic nature of Chinese society. Where social sharing, chats, communities, and reviews play such a major role, it becomes necessary to have space on your website for these reviews to be placed as well as chat facilities that enable seamless communication. This is something that must be built into your site offering to please the average Chinese user.
In addition, the trend in China is for users to rely on a single app to perform a plethora of activities. Also called “supper apps”, they can enable a user to watch a video, hail a taxi, or even go shopping or do online banking. A great example of this is WeChat, which offers all this and more with 1.24 billion monthly users.
Your Chinese UX should not overlook the fact that in China, most online activities are done via a smartphone. It’s also more common to use phone numbers as opposed to email addresses for registration to certain sites, meaning a mobile-first design will be essential. Other mobile-related developments that have gained in popularity include the widespread adoption of QR codes.
And finally, Western companies seeking to enter the Chinese market should be aware of the Chinese firewall. This means that much of the internet is censored and as such, many global websites and apps around the world are blocked there. Examples include Google, Facebook, YouTube, and many others. Consequently, organizations need to tailor their search engine optimization efforts in a completely new way by ensuring that they focus on the local search engine—Baidu—instead.
When it comes to tailoring your offering to meet Chinese UX best practices, the advanced strategies and insights mentioned above will help you gain a head start.
It is vital to remember that when catering to Chinese users and boosting their user experience, you need to go beyond mere translation and localize instead.
We all saw what happened to eBay when it tried to enter the risk-averse Japanese market. It ended up pulling out in a matter of years. To avoid wasted resources and precious time, make sure your Chinese UX efforts accurately meet Chinese user demand.