Lessons from Hong Kong

I grew up in Hong Kong and have since moved to America during my last year of high school. After spending half of my life in America, I’ve realized it has made me very US-centric when it comes to designing for our customers.

But after spending a month in Hong Kong, where I grew up, it has reminded me to always think about our customers at a global level especially when our product serves customers from many countries other than the U.S..

Below are a few main lessons and insights that I learned from my recent trip:

Websites are not a standard

When I search for businesses in Hong Kong, I find that most places don’t have a website. They rely heavily on local listing sites like OpenRice (Yelp equivalent) and Google Map listings. They also don’t have the most updated or correct information. I see this as a HUGE opportunity for

How can we help small businesses get their word out and make sure they always have the most updated listings?

People make payments differently

Digital payment is huge in Hong Kong.

The Octopus

An Octopus card is a contactless smart card can not only pay for your transportation fare, but it also takes care of your bills at grocery stores, restaurants, and shops. Digital pay methods like Apple Pay and Android Pay are also popular. In China, weChat is the prominent payment method over cash to combat counterfeits.

Can we expand our payment button options so our international customers can pay/receive payments in their preferred method?

People consume media differently

With only one major TV network (and some smaller cable networks), people don’t have a lot of choice in their traditional media. As boring as that sounds, it does allow for watercooler talk regarding the episode of soap opera that everyone watches. It allows for brands to event-ize their TV ad efforts for a more custom sponsorship.

Pretty much everyone uses a smartphone in Hong Kong. They consume lots of video, media, and articles on their phones on apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, to their localized buzzfeed-type sites.

How can we target our customers in these markets?

Consider the elderly

I had a lot of opportunity to hang out with my septuagenarian relatives. They ALL use smartphones for WhatsApp group chats and web browsing, which is very common in Asia. When I watch them use their phones, almost all of them have enlarged their font size in their system settings.

This has validated our inclusive design efforts to increase legibility in our mobile products, led by Matt Miklic and co.

Every culture is different

Traveling home has allowed me to gain some new perspectives for prospective customers. It also has reminded me of the opportunities we have to help small businesses around the globe to expand their businesses. With Automattic employees across the globe, I’m sure we can all share even more insights and opportunities to help our community grow.

By Ballio Chan

Creative Director - Marketing @Automattic | Creative | Brand |
Connecting the dots between design and technology.


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