UX design for emerging markets | Things to keep in mind

Whenever it comes to build a consumer or B2B solution, the first question the product designers would ask “Who are the user and what’s the market ?”. And if its for a emerging markets and for general users of those markets, things get little complex.


What is an emerging market ?

According to Wikipedia ,

An emerging market is a country that has some characteristics of a developed market, but does not meet standards to be a developed market. This includes countries that may become developed markets in the future or were in the past.

and…..

An emerging market economy (EME) is defined as an economy with low to middle per capita income. Such countries constitute approximately 80% of the global population, and represent about 20% of the world’s economies.

so according the definition , you need to pinpoint your exact market (i.e. countries, cities, demographics etc). And plan your next move accordingly.


Developing user experience for emerging markets is not as simple as typical UXD procedure.

You need to do little bit more market research and deep user research. Cause things are really different here in emerging markets.

Here some common things that you need to keep in mind when designing for emerging markets. Let’s get started.

1. Know their education level

The main factor that create difference that is user education level. A large portion of peoples education level is low. keep that in mind while adding any feature.

2. Be mindful of gender, class, language

acceptance rate of new technology or new solutions varies on gender, class and main language. for example in India acceptance rate for adopting new technology are not even close to same for men and women.

3. Be less internet depended

People has less access to speedy and stable internet . Most of your target group may be have less internet access than you can even imagine. So plan your flow keeping less internet dependency first priority.

4. Be less power (battery) hungry

People have lower spec phones here. Due cost effectiveness and availability. But not for emerging market try keep your apps/software less power hungry,

5. Be fast & responsive in lower spec devices

Same here !! If majority of your TG has devices with minimal spec. Try keep with it.

6. Find a better way to handle unstable internet connection

Internet connection is not stable in emerging countries. Not only the speed but also the connectivity. Your apps may face 5–6 times connection drops , while downloading a document of only 1MB. How you can handle this worst situation ?

7. Use less voice activated features

Why ? One thing can describe this , “Accent”. Did you ever try to talk with a native Nepali ? In English ? If your application depends on any native English based speech recognition engine,you’re in deep trouble. Majority of user don’t want or feel comfortable to use voice activated features . ( TBH things are changing now, research your user before kick off your features )

8. Guide user to explore

Help users with “How to use” or “Initial Tutorials” to complete any core task of your app. Don’t make your users to play it blind.

9. Make a way to collect crash or ANR data automatically

People are less interested to send your direct feedback. May be in Bangladesh 10 out 200 users will send you a crash report directly. Try to collect them on your own. There are number crash / ANR analytics provider.

10. Keep it simple

Nothing too fancy. It confuses people with less smartphone using experience.

11. Clear navigation

Don’t let your user get lost in the eco !! Your fancy dribble nav design might not work on all cases.

12. Confirmation of the destructive actions

Take a confirmation from user before proceeding any destructive operation. And obviously tell them what exactly going to happen !! People intent to tap / click mistakenly or just out of curiosity.

Did I miss anything ? Let me know in the comments below.

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