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Designing Mobile Technology for Emerging Markets “rural India”

conceptual phone for emerging market

Recently Adaptive put up a micro reports on understanding of how rural people in India uses mobile technologies. “Mobile Literacy” is a design and research project to understand how mobile technology can work more effectively in emerging markets. Adaptive Path went to rural India to investigate the impact of mobile technology and developed concepts for new mobile devices for this market.

MobilGlyph: Making Data Tangible from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

They also shared their comprehensive framing of design principles for such a target audience, one that takes their contextual knowledge of communication technology, consumer electronics and literacy into account.

Few snippet:

  • Design for Cultural Relevance
    Support existing needs, values, networks and experiences.
  • Cultivate Accurate Mental Models
    Design interactions that do not rely on western conventions and metaphors. The system should rely on organization principles, communication methods and iconic representations that are relevant to local experience. Recognize the cultural norms of verbal communication and spatial memory.
  • Evolve a Known Technological Experience
    Create a solution which builds on experience with culturally familiar objects: cars, radios, calculators, televisions and bicycles instead of computers, websites and video games. Explore direct feedback, single-button functions and mechanical clarity.
  • Emphasize Local Adoption Styles
    Create technology and interfaces that can match how people live; India is not discreet or quiet so a solution should be vibrant and expressive of Indian society, culture, religion and way of life. It should also assume the mobile devices are shared and that conversations may involve many people speaking to many, rather than one to one conversations on a personal device.

Six primary design principles they came up with:

  • Honor the Culture of Relationships: Understand how people in the market are going to use the device or service to communicate or get information, by seeing what they do now.
  • Design for Cultural Relevance. Support existing needs, values, networks and experiences.
  • Design for Today’s World. Resources in rural India are scarce, and people manage them carefully. Systems and services familiar to western cultures simply don’t exist. Designing a solution to fit existing infrastructure and cultural experience is essential to its success.
  • Design Legos, Not Model Car Kits. Giving people a flexible toolkit of parts rather than a prescribed solution to a one problem opens up opportunities for cross-cultural iteration.
  • Leapfrog the PC. More than a phone, mobile devices present the opportunity to invent new ways for people to access and interact with information.
  • Generate Awareness & Adoption. Creating mechanisms for facilitating awareness and adoption helps to ensure that all who can benefit from a device or service are aware of and able to use it.

Designing a mobile for rural Market is my dream task and i am much passionate to do that, Understanding user motivations, their experiences, what they are looking for and how they use it and how? is important for designing good experiences.

vivek

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