A Case Study: Redesigning WeChat for the American User

What do people think about WeChat?

Who did I talk to?

I conducted 13 user interviews. Everyone I asked was between the ages of 18 and 25. All were college-educated. While some had only used WeChat a handful of times, others used WeChat almost everyday. Three informants were Chinese international students, meaning they used WeChat almost every day when they lived in China. The other ten informants were American.

  1. Five of these ten informants used WeChat extensively when they visited China.
  2. Two of these ten informations visited China, but did not use WeChat very frequently.
  3. Two informants had only used WeChat in the States, and had never used it in China.

What did people say?

I asked people about what they liked and disliked about WeChat.

I received a lot of responses.

These are some highlights of the responses that I received during my user interviews.

How did I analyze all this information I now had?

In order to more clearly organize all my data, I grouped my data points (unique statements from interviews) according to their relevance to each other.

I analyzed my data my sorting each data point into a category.

So, what’s our problem?

I realized that out of all of WeChat’s features, people use the messaging and moments features the most frequently. However, three individuals expressed dissatisfaction with the moments feature, with one of them saying:

their moments feature is whatever tho it’s like a wannabe fb feed

Others voiced similar sentiments, saying that it was pointless and not very fun to look at, or that everything was Chinese and that they had to Google translate most of the content if they wanted to understand what was going on.

Individuals who were fluent in Chinese, however, actually mentioned the moments feature in a positive light. Clearly there’s a discrepancy in the perception of the moments feature between Chinese and American individuals.

From here, I narrowed down the problem space. I realized that when Americans view moments, they want to access relevant and meaningful content, but they can’t do that well, because:

  1. WeChat content is only in Chinese,
  2. there’s nothing that makes the moment feature stand out above other social media apps, and
  3. not many people in their social circle are on WeChat.

How did I think of a solution?

With the help of a colleague, I brainstormed several ideas to address the problem statement above. To organize our ideas, we categorized them according to relevancy.

We categorized our ideas according to relevancy in our brainstorming session.

Then, I chose the idea that I thought would best increase American engagement with WeChat: sharing moments posts in messages. This new feature is beneficial, because most American WeChat users find that the app’s greatest value is in keeping in touch with friends and family in China.

For instance, my mom makes many WeChat posts per week. However, because I have no interest in looking through my moments, I often miss her posts. She, in turn, gets upset that I don’t look at or engage with her posts.

However, if she automatically sent her posts to me via message, I would much more likely see her post, thereby increasing my engagement with not only her posts, but also the moments feature.

To stand out from other apps, WeChat does not necessarily have to be the next Facebook, but rather, the app the best allows people to stay in touch with their social circle in China.

Thus, the solution may not necessarily be to increase the user base of WeChat, but rather, to turn WeChat into an app that serves to connect family and friends despite international distance.

How did I design my final solution?

I first created some low-fidelity mockups of my final design.

These are low-fidelity mockups.

From these low-fidelity mockups, I then went onto high-fidelity designs, in which I added a share button on the moments page, and allowed users to share moments posts to their chats.

These are my high-fidelity designs.

This final design reinforces the notion that WeChat’s strategy in marketing itself towards Americans may not be to pose as another Facebook, but rather, as a way for Americans to keep in touch with their international friends and family. Incorporating moments posts into messages allows WeChat to personalize the moments feature, thereby driving increased engagement with the feature, and increasing American interest in the originally-Chinese app.