Designing is a complex and abstract process. It involves identifying the requirements, researching, generating and expanding on ideas, producing the design, testing, analysing and then potentially redesigning it. When entering a new market, design is inevitably THE aspect of your business which presents and defines your product or service to consumers. However, cultures, attitudes and consumers differ globally, and while an offering may receive a roaring response in one market, that is no guarantee that it will be successful in another market.
That is why it is absolutely crucial to localise your product or service in a way which resonates with each market you will be present in. This calls for a very thorough understanding and research of your consumers, who will in turn understand your offerings better and develop trust in your business.
In today’s digital age where more products and services come in the form of online platforms, SaaS, mobile applications and other digital channels, simply replicating and launching the same website that you have developed in, for example, Singapore will definitely not work in China (trust me, we’ll know, having had first-hand experience in this). Putting in conscientious effort and attention to adapt the UI/UX design of your product or service offering is thus a necessary step that every business will need to take if they intend to expand to different markets.
These design factors were exactly what were covered during the sharing sessions by ZomWork and MING Labs at the PIXEL UI/UX Mixer event, conducted in partnership with the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA). The topic for the event was “Web and Mobile Interface Design Considerations for the China market” , and going up to share their insightful takeaways were none other than ZomWork’s internal cross-border heroes- our General Manager, Yinghan, and our Product Designer, Chen How.
By collaborating with our teams in Singapore, Chongqing and Shanghai, and helping companies bring their businesses to China, we have indeed seen the importance of adjusting product and service offerings to fit the China market, as well as how design plays an essential part in this.
Firstly, we looked into how design is perceived in China. Design in China is often presented in a very cluttered manner, with a large amount of text, links and images being squeezed onto a web page or application. Conversely, an overcrowded design is usually considered an eyesore and confusing to consumers in the Singaporean market. However, depending on the industry, some Chinese consumers prefer this as it makes it easy and fast for them to get information.
While cluttered interfaces are favoured and commonplace in China, it does not mean that this will be the go-to design when entering the market. More companies are transforming their designs for Chinese consumers, and introducing cleaner, modern interfaces. As your users are the target audience, ensure that you think about and for them. Allow your design to encompass their user experience, habits, and expectations. Do not merely follow along and come up with a stereotypical or easily replicable design that is fit for now but may be outdated in the near future.
Next, when expanding to China, it is essential for your business to embrace their technology and understand the scale of it, especially with the rise of super-apps in China, which is a multi-purpose platform serving different functions. Getting a comprehensive overview of the applications and software that the Chinese use, as well as finding out their scope will be critical for businesses to integrate and flourish in China. The Chinese are great problem solvers, and their technology will undoubtedly be first-rate, so always make it a point to ask them “What can you offer my business?” to benefit from their expertise.
We then concluded our presentation by sharing our experiences and insights gained from working with Chinese vendors and colleagues. When working with them, speed is definitely of the essence, with the success rate of a project declining as time drags on. Some vendors may also have a 差不多 (read as cha bu duo) attitude, meaning that the standard of their work may be considerably acceptable to a certain standard but that will be as good as it gets for now. It is therefore important to understand how the Chinese work so that market entry and collaboration in the market will be as successful as possible.
Wrapping up the whole event was several questions from the audience, who were thoroughly engaged throughout the whole event. Most questions revolved around how different nationalities and cultures could work with the Chinese, and if there were differences in various Chinese cities. While there remain differences in terms of expectations and generational between the developed cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen as compared to the rural cities, getting the trust and buy-in of the local stakeholders that you are working with is of utmost importance, just as it is anywhere. It is simply to communicate precisely with them on what you expect and to project manage them carefully to ensure that everything is going well.
At the end of the day, when entering a different market, your consumers remain at the crux of your product or service. Put yourself in their shoes, understand what drives them, and adapt your offering to their culture. We are going to tell you that frankly, it will be a time-consuming and challenging process. However, we also guarantee you that being able to expand into another market and benefit more users will definitely be immeasurably rewarding.
Fret not, you don’t have to face these challenges of business expansion alone. ZomWork’s cross-border team of experts in Singapore and China is here to help you with your business expansion to China, from assessing the opportunities in the market for you to executing a sales and business development process. Simply fill in this form to get in touch with us today to grow your business potential!