The state of the internet in Myanmar? You’d be hard-pressed to find a young person at a teashop not on their phone’s 4G connection. Facebook is still incredibly dominant, but other services are growing fast. YouTube is killing it. In Yangon, Grab and Uber have nullified most of Oway’s and Hello Cabs’ first-to-market advantage. Israeli Viber still connects millions, though Vietnam’s Zalo is coming up strong. The Austin-based walkie-talkie app Zello has been adopted by all 4 of Yangon’s main taxi organisations. Saudi-born flash-in-the-pan Sarahah has given young people the opportunity to send each other anonymous posts that wouldn’t fly on Facebook. Instagram’s growing quickly. Twitter bots abound.
Where are the successful homegrown services? The international arrivals show that it’s not that hard to get people off Facebook and onto your platform. We believe it’s the lack of serious user-focussed product design, failure to identify a value people actually want, relying on templates, and riddling products with frustrating usability issues. At the moment, many products are making it to market simply because “it’s worked there so why not here”. This approach ignores the needs of this very unique market — no wonder people don’t stick around for long.
That’s why with every project we take on, we help our clients precisely define their goals and test them against their market’s needs. It’s often a novel idea for businesses, to slow down and check their assumptions, but it’s a crucial process. Every part of the product is then conceptualised and designed with those guiding principles in mind. Any experience or feature that doesn’t drive the central purpose is cut. We believe appropriate design is the only way to make a good product.
Designing for Myanmar is the perfect training ground for the next generation of designers — a wide range of products is needed across all industries, and a fast-learning and impatient market doesn’t allow for assumptions or copycat products. At nexlabs, we’ve built our team of product-design thinkers to make sure every project is uniquely suited to its audience.
Want to make something that really shakes things up, no matter what market you’re in? Look at what people are doing offline, look for inefficiencies, see if those people are into the idea of trying something new, and come talk to us about how to make your idea happen.