Why Startups & Enterprises in Asia should Invest in UX

Posted on: 08 March 2014

User Experience is not such a strange term in the west, as compared to the Asian region.

Startups, often like big enterprises, omit investment in UX.

Image courtesy: Homestead


UX (User Experience) is not such a strange term in the west, as compared to the Asian region. Many IT giants like Apple, IBM, Amazon and Facebook are well-known for delivering great user experience. Undoubtedly, UX has recently becoming a buzz word in Asia, thanks to continued promotional efforts by the local UX community. Yet, many UX practitioners still find it difficult to ‘sell’ the idea of UX to enterprises even in developed Asian countries like Singapore and Taiwan. Many have misconceptions and thus, misuse the term, ‘UX’. I always hear from founders that they understand the importance of UX and that they have a great UX designer/team but after further discussion, I come to realise that the mentioned ‘UX team’ does only graphic user interface design. I do not claim to be a ‘know-it-all’ when it comes to the correct definition of UX, but I am pretty certain that it is safe for me to enlighten you on the fact that UX IS NOT UI. (You may read a very interesting article that explains why UX is not UI here).

My intention of writing this article is to encourage you to start taking approaches to be customer or user-centric, be it for your product or your company (corporate culture). Startups, often like big enterprises, omit investment in UX as they think that marketing, HR, operations and everything else are more important. People always think that the major downfall of their business/product is due to the lack of marketing or funding, taking for granted that their idea or product is already well-optimised.

But is your product ‘well-optimised’ for You or for your Users?

Two startups in Asia that caught my attention have been using UX as a great weapon to shape them to a different level of game play, the level of ‘competitive advantage’: 9GAG from Hong Kong & Whoscall from Taiwan.


9GAG, created in year 2008 is now possibly the most popular humour website with millions of daily users. The co-founder of 9GAG, Ray Chan was the keynote speaker of Echelon Ignite Thailand 2013. Apart from sharing his aspiration of making people happy by using the power of ‘humour’, I recalled that he shared some startup tips:

You should test your product with your users, understand how they use it and improve it

Chan mentioned this not once, but many times. I was surprised that this advice was not an item shared by any of the speakers from the e-commerce and other customer service oriented fields, rather, from a co-founder of a crowd-sourced online humour site.


Asia Startup Why You no UX

Image Courtesy: Memeful


I believe that paying attention to its users is the main reason behind the astounding number of 9GAG’s strong user base: over 8 million Facebook likes, 2.3 million Twitter followers and over a million Google+ followers. I told a friend about this, and his response was,

“I don’t think so, 9GAG’s key strength is certainly from their viral contents. I don’t hear anyone saying their website or mobile app is easy to use”.

Good designs are obvious, but great ones are transparent, discreet and silent. I too, do not expect people to express blatantly on how user friendly a product is. For me, a website or mobile app is user friendly when it requires less effort and minimal thinking to complete a desirable task. Aside from great content, do not forget that context is very important, especially for the users. Also, bear in mind that a design that looks simple does not necessarily mean that it will be easy to use.


I am glad that I had the chance to meet the COO of Gogolook (the company behind Whoscall), Edgar Chiu, a very humble guy during Global Startup Youth. I then started paying attention to the startup and its trademark product ‘Whoscall’ – a mobile app that helps to track and block unwanted calls, which received more than 4 million downloads around the world. Two months later, I read the news that the Korean web giant behind LINE Messenger, Naver acquired Gogolook, the team behind Whoscall for about NT$ 500 million.


Whoscall has re-branded as ‘LINE Whoscall’ with its iconic LINE green color background. Image Courtesy: Inside


Whoscall received a number of awards including ‘Google Play Best Apps of 2013’ in 8 countries. The Whoscall team is well known in Taiwan for their emphasis on listening to their users. The team regularly conduct user interviews to understand user behaviours and how users interact with their app. From their Facebook page, their Facebook admin responded almost every single comment from users.

For startups seeking global expansion, it is also crucial to understand that user acceptance level varies across regions and countries, mainly because of language barriers, cultural differences and the adoption stage. While tracking remotely, your analytic numbers provide you with facts & figure insights, but that is not enough for you to understand why users are falling. User testing and user interview is the way to understand the reason of why users abandon your product. Let’s take the Whoscall team as an example, when they faced a sudden drop of users in the Middle East, they took their users seriously, regardless of where they from. While designing their app, they spent hours trying to understand the local user requirements and proceeded to make amendments. If one observed closely, the app icon that appears in the Middle Eastern regions look different from other countries in order to make it easier to be recognized and understood by the locals.

Through partnership with LINE Corporation, they are now ready to roll out their apps for free, so that everyone can enjoy their services. In addition to that, they did not forget their loyal users who paid to use their services. Hence, they officially announced that refunds will be made to their initial paid users. In my opinion, they certainly did pretty well in their overall business aspect, which stirs up ‘word-of-mouth’ by its users consequently stimulating their massive growth. To date, both 9GAG & Whoscall received high ratings by users on Google Play store.


UX Fund

In 2006, a UX design agency Teehan + Lax in Canada went on to experiment by investing $50,000 (they call it the UX Fund) on 10 companies that focuses on UX. They invested in companies such as Apple, Google, Netflix and Yahoo. Teehan + Lax intended to sell the stocks after 1 year. However, in the first year, the UX Fund already raised by 39.3%. After four and a half years, it went on to increase by 101.8%. This shows that businesses that put resources behind their customer experience do get their return of investment.


Some final thoughts

Investing in UX should not be your last option, instead, it should be among the first few things that you should take care of rather than spending thousands of dollars on marketing and product improvement before even understanding your users. Irrespective of company size, companies should get inspired by the users and stay connected with them. This can be done through a simple user interview or user test that is affordable to any startup. Of course, making a product beautiful is great, but you should focus on usefulness and usability first, then only desirability. It is also advisable to have the ‘user-centered’ mind-set because corporate culture is hard to tweak when a startup company grows bigger. So adopting user centred mind-set early in a company will be easier than adopting it at a later stage. This is not because people resist change, but they resist being changed. UX practice is never the sole responsibility of a designer, but everyone in the team. Practicing UX, doing user research and testing is not about looking forward to the ‘West’, but it is what every business should have done in the first place.


Read Also:  UX Malaysia 2013


The post Why startups & enterprises in Asia should invest in UX appeared first on e27.

By: Soon Aik


‘Flavourful’ UX Learning Journey in Singapore: Experience Design through Senses

Posted on: 12 March 2014

Finally, Singapore, here I come!

On 5th December 2013, I had the great opportunity to attend the “User Experience Singapore (UXSG) Meetup #7 – Experience Design through Senses”, held by the UXSG Community Group, at Microsoft Office Singapore.

UX SG Singapore

 Practitioners from different fields and countries gathered all together at the cozy Microsoft office to share their stories about UX

I was still in a state of disbelief at the fact that my first trip to Singapore was a sponsored trip and on top of that, during my first week of internship! I major in the subject of Mass Communication, so User Experience (UX) was a totally foreign area for me. I am grateful that my supervisors gave me this opportunity to attend this meetup in order to have a better idea of what UX is all about.

When I stepped into the Microsoft office, I was wowed by the colorful and avant-garde interior design. I was very impressed with the amount of people who attended the meetup, as I did not expect that many would turn up to learn about UX. Frankly, I am a shy and reserved person by nature (Not kidding!). While trying to suppress the butterflies flying 
around in my stomach, I thought to myself, “Gosh… what do I do now? Take the initiative to approach people?” I gulped. Luckily, I was accompanied by my colleague not long after.

“Hi! What organization are you both from?”  asked the man at the reception who greeted us with a bright smile. 

“Oh, we’re from Netizen Testing,” I responded. 

“Ah, I see. Here are your number tags. You’re from?” 


“First time to Singapore?” 

“Yes – for her at least!” replied my colleague casually while pointing at me. 

“Remember! When you order noodles here, you have to request without chili. Remember!”

“Huh?” I was stunned by his rather off-topic advice.

This was one of the funny episodes that I recall. Although it was awkward at first, thanks to this guy, I was not that nervous anymore.

The highlight of this event was when the organizer invited two great speakers to share their experiences on how UX played a large part in their respective fields and how they dealt with it.

UX SG Singapore

The theme of the UXSG Meetup #7: Experience Design through the Senses


The first speaker was Ms. Antonella Scarabelli. She is the co-founder and principal consultant of Insight2Market. The topic she presented was “Designing Flavourful Experience”. On the other hand, the second speaker was Mr. Damien Lock. He is the academic staff of the School of Technology and the Arts, Republic Polytechnic. He talked about the sound design for Khoo Tech Phuat Hospital and ignition sounds produced for Electric Cars.

Between these two speakers, I personally found Scarabelli’s topic more interesting. She explained how the five senses of human beings (sight, sound, touch, taste and smell) create multisensory experiences. For instance, have you ever thought that the sound of eating Pringles can actually enhance its delicacy? Or did you notice that Coca-Cola places a significant emphasis on the sound effects of a bottle opening, drinking and burping in their advertisements? Our five senses actually work in the form of cross-modality to produce a super-addictive effect of congruent signals (1+1 = 3). Ultimately, this process leads to a flavorful experience.

UX SG Singapore

Scarabelli (Right; holding mic) was doing a little test with five volunteers


The talk was indeed inspiring. After I came back from the event, I went online and searched for more information about the five senses in UX. I came across this video called “Jinsop Lee: Design for all 5 senses”. It is a talk by Jinsop Lee, an industrial designer who believes that great design appeals to all five sense of a human being. This video gave me a clearer overview of how our human senses affect a user’s experience. Hence, at the end of this blog post, I would like to share this video with you. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!


Good design looks great, yes – but why shouldn’t it also feel great, smell great and sound great?' Designer Jinsop Lee (a TED Talent Search winner) shares his theory of 5-sense design, with a handy graph and a few examples. His hope: to inspire you to notice great multisensory experiences’ (TED 2013):


After the two talks, a small workshop was carried out. This workshop was to review the UXSG events and activities that have been held so far.

All of us were divided into 10 groups according to our numbered tags. There were three mahjong papers pasted on the wall, each written with "Things we should do more", "Things we should do less" and "Never done before but hope to do”. Each of us took some sticky notes to write our personal opinions and pasted it on the respective papers.

After that, we voted the best 3 comments for each category as the significant key points.

During the workshop, I got to know my group members. Most of them were UX practitioners. There was also one who was a university student too. Although our occupations were different, we had a short but fruitful talk with each other.


By: Selina


Avoid Blunders: Conduct Testing

Posted on: 09 January 2014

Happy New Year to all our Netizens! We hope you had a fruitful year and managed to bulldoze your 2013 resolutions! Don’t worry if you fell short. Failure is a step forward in reaching the coveted trophy of success at the finish line. Plus, you can always bring forward your resolution to 2014. Speaking of falling short, we’ve witnessed two major website blunders in 2013 that could’ve been avoided altogether should testing have been conducted in the first place.

Obamacare Website Crashes (Twice)

Obamacare website overloads 


A few days before the launch of President Obama’s online health insurance website, tests were conducted on the site by officials and contractors to see if the site could handle tens of thousands of consumers at the same time. It crashed after a simulation by government employees in which just a few hundred of them tried to log on simultaneously.

Despite the failed test, they decided to plow ahead. Watch the video here (YouTube, 2:46).

When the website went live on October 1st 2013, it crashed shortly after midnight as about 2,000 users tried to complete the first step of signing up. It was a disastrous roll-out.

Following this, fixes and repairs were implemented and the site was able to accommodate up to 50,000 concurrent users but on Monday, December 23rd which was the official deadline to apply for coverage to ensure Americans had insurance by January 1st, the site had a single-day record of more than 2 million users. This forced a queuing system to be implemented which invited users to leave their email addresses so that they could be notified when they should return to the site. More than 129,000 individuals provided their emails.

After almost three months of ‘fixes’ since its debut in October, officials have failed to address the fundamental software problems with the site.


Maybank2u site crashes on Black Friday

On Friday, 29th November 2013, Maybank - the largest bank and financial group in Malaysia, launched its new revamped online banking site, Maybank2u which featured a new clean and attractive tile-like layout.

That day, majority of users could not log on to the website and the few who were able to experienced terribly painful loading times and were automatically logged out at random instances.


Screenshot of maybank2u.com.my taken on Black Friday 

Maybank2u had also been disabled by online payment gateways on some local e-commerce sites.


Maybank2u online payment is anything but 'online'


In Malaysia, online banking happens to be the most used online payment method and of this, 50% of them use Maybank2u.

To make matters worse, this happened to be the day where major e-commerce sites such as Lelong.my, Superbuy.my and Groupme.my were having their first ever Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Lelong.my had even invested on a newspaper full-page advertisement for the first time ever, and the amount of effort and investment in marketing put into this campaign by them was basically in vain. Other e-commerce sites such as Groupon Malaysia and online fashion store, Seqoci also voiced out their frustrations on Facebook and Twitter respectively.

“How are we supposed to do business when Maybank2u is down at the month-end period, during when we expect online sales to spike? Marketing spending is wasted as our customer couldn’t make online payment. Perhaps Bank Negara Malaysia need to have a guideline in place to monitor and control online banking downtime.” – Danny Khow, director of Seqoci.


These website failures of 2013 could’ve been avoided had website testing been carried out and its warnings heeded. Obama’s Healthcare.gov would not have come under fire and faced such a calamity had they taken their testing results more seriously and Maybank2u would have known that their new site would be an epic disaster and fail to work before public launching.

Conduct usability testing, run beta tests and avoid overnight changes to your website. Don’t let your site be one of 2014’s website blunders.

By: Tim


E-Commerce Series: How are Tesco and Redmart changing the groceries sale space online

Posted on: 24 December 2013

Selling perishable items like milk and bread online is not an easy business.

Websites like Tesco and Redmart are redefining how groceries can be sold online


Picture for representative purposes only (Courtesy: Amy Walters /Shutterstock)


Selling groceries online is certainly not an easy business to start with and when you have perishable goods added to the mix, it’s going to be a tall order. But this challenge hasn’t stopped Tesco (tesco.com in Malyasia) and Redmart (redmart.com in Singapore) –  two companies that we are reviewing — from trying. The former while is a traditional brick-and-mortar company — already a giant in the grocery business, trying to march into the e-commerce battlefield, whilst the latter is a company who solely sells online. It is interesting to see how they differ in terms of their digital customer experience. Here are some of things we found:


Let’s Find ‘Em (Search Function)

The search function is more important than you think. It is the saving grace for any website user. Lazy users will use it the moment they enter a website whereas the more hands-on users will use it as a last resort. Hence, it is essential that the function serves users well. Have a look at the video below showing users using Tesco and Redmart’s search function.

Redmart understood this point very well and placed much focus and emphasis on their search function. Their search bar is huge and they placed it right on the top of their website. You have to be blind to miss it. As you can see from the video, their function is able to predict and suggest your search query even before you finish typing them. Tesco’s search function, although not as good as Redmart’s search function, works quite well to serve their customers.


What’s in it? (Product Information)

It’s hard to find a good balance when providing product information – do you provide a lot of information about the product and make the product page look so cluttered that even teenagers would call it a mess? Or do you put too little information that even Sherlock Holmes couldn’t figure it out?

There’s one interesting feature in Redmart’s product pages that deserves praise here. The nutritional information of the products is in their high-res image which makes it quite easy to read. It may even be easier to read than holding the product in your hands since that information is usually in small print. It is a delightful experience for customers.


Screengrab from Redmart.com showing nutritional value of Marigold Milk, which can be zoomed


Time to Checkout (Checkout Process)

A lot of dropouts come from the checkout process; if you make things hard to use, complicated and leave it with bugs to crawl on your customers, they are not going to buy from you. We found a number of problems faced by users when testing Tesco and Redmart, but there’s one mistake that many e-commerce websites still make – asking customers to sign up as members before they could checkout.

Some e-commerce websites don’t even allow you to look at your shopping cart before you register as a member. Imagine yourself shopping at a grocer and suddenly, out of nowhere, a salesperson decides to cover up your shopping cart and said, “Sir, you have to be a member to look at your shopping cart” or “Sir, I can’t let you buy these milk and eggs without getting your phone number!” Two important words to learn here – guest checkout.


So how was it? (Conclusion)

There are other issues that we found throughout the testing but we couldn’t review all of them; it would be too long. But overall, both Tesco and Redmart did quite well in serving their customers. We’ve seen far worse online retail experiences from other e-commerce websites. The key is to always put your customers’ needs before your own; your customers’ convenience rather than what your business or management wants. If you would like to know how customers use your site, conduct some usability tests. It is a solution that will uncover user behaviour and explain why they are leaving your site. How about you giving these two e-commerce sites a try and let us know what you think? We would love to hear from you.

Read Also: 

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Rakuten.com.my

The UX Challenge: Who sells fashion better? Zalora or Love, Bonito?

Optimizing Your E-Commerce Site For Higher Sales Volume 


Note:  Changes to the website may have occurred since UX Testing was done.


The post How are Tesco and Remart changing the groceries sales space online appeared first on e27.


By: Mike Wong


UX Malaysia 2013

Posted on: 24 December 2013

UX Malaysia 2013 is the first User Experience conference in Malaysia, initiated by the founder, Izwan Ismail. We are happy and proud to be part of the premier event. 

UX Malaysia 2013

The UX Malaysia gang!

The event was held at Microsoft Malaysia Office, KLCC, where 200 attendees participated in inspirational talks & practical workshops. For the first half of the event, we had 6 speakers from different countries to talk on topics concerning UX issues:

  • Hao Dinh, Innovation Leader at GE (U.S.)
  • Jonathan Hirsch, Experienced UX Consultant at Hirschworks.com (U.K.)
  • Bram Pitoyo, UX Designer at Mozilla (New Zealand)
  • Mike Lai , UX Strategist & Educator (China)
  • Benjamin Humphrey, UX Designer at Atlassian (Australia)
  • Yu-Hsiu, Senior UX Lead at Microsoft (China)

UX Malaysia 2013 - Hao Dinh, Innovation Leader at GETalk 1: Design Thinking by Hao Dinh

"Design Thinking + UX = Solution That Matter" 

UX Malaysia 2013 - Jonathan Hirsch, Experienced UX Consultant at Hirschworks.com

Talk 2: Rockstar UX by Jon Hirsch

"Design like you're right, test like you're wrong"

UX Malaysia 2013 - Bram Pitoyo, UX Designer at Mozilla

Talk 3: UX & Typography by Bram Pitoyo

"Different design for different country"

UX Malaysia 2013 - Mike Lai , UX Strategist & Educator (China)

Talk 4: UX Strategy by Mike Lai

"Great UX is the responsibility of everyone in the organization"

UX Malaysia 2013 - UX Designer at Atlassian (Australia)

Talk 5: Agile UX by Benjamin Humphrey

"Be human in your design"

UX Malaysia 2013 - Yu-Hsiu, Senior UX Lead at Microsoft (China)

Talk 6: Design as One by Yu-Hsiu

"People don't resist change, they resist being changed"

During the second half of the event, we had 3 workshops & a panel discussion where all the experts came together to share their opinions on current UX trends & education:

  • User Testing workshop by Alvin Chai, CEO & Principal Consultant at Netizen Testing
  • Design Thinking workshop by Hao Dinh, Innovation Leader at GE
  • Information Architecture workshop by Jonathan Hirsch, UX Consultant at Hirschworks.com
UX Malaysia 2013 - User Testing workshop by Alvin Chai
User Testing workshop by Alvin Chai

UX Malaysia 2013 - Analysis of Remote Usability Testing in action!
Analysis of Remote Usability Testing in action!

UX Malaysia 2013 - Design Thinking workshop by Hao Dinh
Design Thinking workshop by Hao Dinh

UX Malaysia 2013 - Information Architecture workshop by Jonathan Hirsch
Information Architecture workshop by Jonathan Hirsch

UX Malaysia 2013 - Panel Discussion (from left: Alvin, Jon, Bram, Bejamin, Mike & Izwan)
Panel Discussion (from left: Alvin, Jon, Bram, Bejamin, Mike & Izwan)

Bottom Line

We are all excited to be living in the middle of the age of digital revolution. It is changing how humans are living their lives. Specifically, it is changing the way we interact and communicate. We have conducted workshops in different countries, but we feel exceedingly excited and blessed for having the opportunity to empower the local UX community and international participants in Malaysia by sharing our knowledge. Through our observation and conversations with delegates from Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore & the Philippines during the event, the UX awareness is certainly heating up in both Malaysia & the Southeast Asia region. Early this year we had UX conferences in Hong Kong & Singapore, followed by Taiwan and now the first one in Malaysia. The upcoming remarkable UX event will be the ‘User Friendly 2013’ conference in Shanghai, China, which is known as the most prestigious UX conference in Asia. During UX Malaysia, we also met a lot of passionate UX believers, both experts and newbies. We see a huge potential in Asia as we still have a lot of work to do to make the digital landscape a better place for all of us, so that we can have meaningful interactions with businesses as well as individuals. Last but not least, we believe that everyone who attended the event felt as enthusiastic and encouraged as we did. A huge thanks to all participants, speakers and the organizing team for making this event a successful one.


Read also: UX Scene, Taiwan Style

A friend of ours, Zhi Min also wrote a post about UX Malaysia 2013 Roundup

You can also view the slides here

For more photos, feel free to visit our Facebook album. 


By:  The Netizen Testing team


Older Entry >>