Lessons from the field: bringing digital products to emerging markets

In the tech industry, we’re constantly chasing innovation – the new and the shiny, the slickest UI, the latest framework, an immersive user experience. We’re understandably excited about the possibilities inherent in a world of powerful hand-held devices, super-fast connections, and a user base with the means and the know-how to buy into whatever next big thing we put out there.

But there exists another kind of digital landscape – places where conditions are imperfect, where networks are flawed, where technical literacy is low, where kilobytes are precious; a world where our carefully-crafted digital experiences stutter and crawl and obfuscate and perplex, and ultimately fail. There are billions of people around the world that now have access to connected smart phones, but many can afford only a few megabytes of data here and there, have low-cost, low-specced smartphones, unreliable electricity sources to charge them, and are learning to use digital interfaces for the first time in their lives.

So how can we make sure that keeping up with the cutting edge won’t exclude people in these fast-growing emerging economies? In this talk we’ll go through examples from working with novice tech users in West Africa and discover how they navigate and comprehend interfaces, input data, and understand screen flows. You’ll gain some insight into the context and the constraints, learn how certain UI patterns and conventions hinder or help, and leave with an understanding of how to include these millions of new users in your product thinking.