Designing for Indian users: The unique challenges
For a product to be successful, it needs to appeal to a majority of — if not all — potential users. The capability to address diverse needs is a hallmark of the best UI/UX design agencies. Achieving UX success is not just about creating an aesthetically satisfying impression; it’s also about maximizing the product’s usability to meet varied customer expectations.
No target audience is as complex as what we’ll call, for the sake of convenience, the “average Indian consumer.” It’s hard to imagine a persona representing a typical Indian user. The country embodies vastly different cultures and traditions, languages and art forms, education and income levels, and social and regional preferences. A critical factor, among the incredibly wide range of characteristics, is the language used for the user interfaces. Designing for India is, in many ways, different from designing for other markets. For UX design companies in India, the challenge also opens up unmatched opportunities to showcase their competence, where only the best can win.
The Indian user: Growing in numbers, aspirations, and capabilities
The Indian user is increasingly turning to digital devices, not just for information, entertainment, and social interactions but also for everyday needs such as banking, business transactions, and communications. Several factors have fueled the transformation: the availability of cheaper smartphones, faster broadband networks, and the rapid development of the app ecosystem.
The growth was primarily spurred by urban users during the initial period of the Internet in India. These users could understand and consume content in English. But the last few years were marked by a remarkable change in user expectations. A 2021 study by Google and Kantar reveals fascinating insights. According to the research, almost half of the users prefer content in their local language, while 98% of people use the Internet exclusively in a local language or with English. What’s more striking is the discovery that 63% of users prefer content wholly in their mother tongue.
There are three takeaways from this study:
- The next big opportunity for digital businesses will come from markets that seek local language interfaces and content.
- User experience design companies must learn the intricacies of regional languages and internalize them in their projects.
- The transformation is already happening. Businesses must quickly realign UX strategies to retain their competitive edge.
Understanding linguistic traits and needs
UI/UX design agencies must keep two considerations in mind while creating and optimizing a product for a regional language. A surprisingly common mistake is the notion that they already possess the required knowledge; such an assumption can potentially undermine the project. The second is ensuring the design retains its usability and attractiveness when optimized for the chosen language.
The first aspect is best addressed through research. With a diligently conducted study, more profound insights can be obtained. Compromising this step to speed up the design tasks or cut costs is not worth the risk. The process typically starts with the definition of the end-user. It attempts to capture their needs and expectations, besides the challenges the competitive products fail to tackle. Designers must understand the significance of these factors, relating them to the language used. Are there critical language-specific aspects to be incorporated into the design? The research process may include both quantitative and qualitative methods such as surveys, interviews, and web access analysis.
A UX audit is the best way to assess the suitability of a design. It can throw light on aspects that get overlooked by product developers as they focus on the overall functionality. With an objective, 360° evaluation, a UX audit agency can identify possible design weaknesses. It’s essential to ensure the scope of the audit covers examining the language used. Armed with a comprehensive audit report, designers can improve the product’s usability while minimizing costly, time-consuming redesign efforts.
The design process isn’t complete unless the design is extensively tested by a representative group of users. The benefits of prototyping and iterative testing cannot be overstated. A/B tests can be especially beneficial for improving the clarity and readability of the text in the local language.
Tips for a purposeful design
For countries with a hoary past, language is more than a communication medium. This is especially true of India, where each language boasts a long history and a vast repertoire of literary works. Languages are not just associated with regions, but they also represent cultural and social values. A great design is mindful of people’s emotional attachment to their language, being sensitive in the choice of words and presentation. Here are some approaches leading UI/UX design companies employ to overcome language-imposed design challenges.
When translated from a different language, the copy must retain the tone, quality, and effectiveness. Computer-aided translations are alright as placeholders, but sometimes they go wrong with a language’s peculiarities or regional variations. The translated text must be harmonious and consistent. In some cases, using transliterated text for jargon may be better than translations that users aren’t familiar with.
- The length of the copy
As visual elements are laid out, the space allocated for text is usually decided on the default language, which is English in most cases. The translated text may be longer or shorter, considering the language’s grammar, vocabulary, and font family. This may warrant further optimization of the design. All elements that include text need to be examined, including the heading, copy, and CTA buttons.
Today, designers can choose from hundreds of font families and variants for every language. The selection of the font type is a critical task. The decision must be made thoughtfully, considering the product type and the target user. The font style must accentuate the central message the design intends to convey. Representing a blend of readability, aptness, and elegance is essential.
The copy must reflect the designer’s vision to make the product intuitive. Adopting a conversational tone adds to the user-friendliness. Simple, direct, short phrases that contain commonly used words are easier to understand and take action on. The objective is not to showcase the designer’s literary expertise but to improve the user’s experience. The design must also avoid mixing different language scripts, which can baffle and frustrate users.
People look for skimmable content that can be grasped with just a glance. Adding an image that represents a function or feature is a good idea. Visual elements can replace or complement the explanatory text and are immensely beneficial when designing a multilingual product. It’s advisable to avoid abstract icons or images, as they may not convey the same meaning to all people.
input It’s a fact we all know: typing in a local language is exhausting. Transliteration with an English keyboard is a possibility, but it’s useful only when the user has some knowledge of the English alphabet. Here’s where voice input tools can help, with their ease of use and remarkably consistent results. Adding an autocomplete feature will make it even more convenient for users.
Looking for design ideas that delight users across regions? Talk to us. Ambian Studio is among the top UI/UX design companies in India. Our team is driven by a passion for excellence. We love building new-age user experience strategies for businesses keen to benefit from futuristic thinking. With our customer-focused approach, agility, and positive attitude, we fulfill the exacting needs of global organizations. Our services span the entire UX spectrum, addressing the unique challenges and expectations of startups, mid-size companies, and enterprises.