Things you want to know while designing online service marketplace in India

Over the past one year, we been working on refining the entire product experience of UrbanClap partner apps (Read about the our process and results, UrbanClap Partner app redesign). Well, this exercise exposed us to variety of problems the service professionals in India face: 1. most of them are not well educated, 2. neither technically versed, 3. Have poor Internet connection. These were some of the major roadblocks on our way to success of the platform. I am here writing about some of the practices we followed in our design, development cycles.

1. Know your users

Before designing anything, first and foremost learn about the users. Understand their needs, their objectives, their technical understanding and the environment, where they will be using your product. And when you think about all these factors, you will learn how these users are different from the normal users(Usually called as customers).

For example, UrbanClap has a huge variety of professionals who use the app with different goals and expectations. Like, the carpenters, plumbers and other handymen they cared most about getting timely jobs and their payouts. While fitness trainers, teachers, photographers, cared most about getting new leads, managing them and following up with the new customers. With such a variety in individual’s goals and expectations, we had to design a user-friendly interface which helps them to accomplish their goals, meet their expectations and contribute significantly to their lives.

2. Follow platform specific UI conventions

The question you should ask here is, Why UI conventions work in the first place?

As we saw our partners mostly using native apps like Dailer, Messenger, Paytm, WhatsApp, Youtube. They were accustomed to use native apps, their brain registers widely popular symbols, interaction, motions, colors and treats them as conventions. This is why people fell more comfortable and confident when they see familiar UI, their brain automatically associate it to some previous known system and they had to put less or no effort in understanding the new system. By lowering cognitive load, you can drive massive user engagement and adoption.

Another advantage is that conventions can be used as fundamental guidelines to build on top of them. Consider it as vanilla ice-cream, you can flavour it as per your taste and needs. By following UI convention, you need to worry less about users understanding the UI and focus more of your energy in solving actual problem statements. Material Design Guidelines and Human Interface Guidelines are two great examples of widely popular conventions, they were introduced to bring in visual and behavioural consistency in the respective platforms.

3. Language Localisation

India is a land of cultural and lingual diversity. And when it comes to the service class, they are most comfortable in their native language. Try to go for language localization if possible with your product. Few Indian apps doing a great job at this, attaching a few examples of the same. I am sure there must be much more doing a great job at this.

Some Indian apps supporting language localisation

Below is an example of experimental design we are testing, and yes Hinglish works well in India.

4. Create visual codes

Use colors and other visual elements to create codes. We noticed, that our partners associate actions and progress with visual elements and colors. Red is alert, or some error. Green is action completed, progress and so on. It all translates back to using conventions and how human brain responds to them.

Minimum rating notification on partner app
Color coded status updates to assist professional in managing their jobs

5. Leverage technology

For supply side, we often tend to overlook or tend to underestimate the power of technology and the tools you can create to save time and resources. While even most tech products still rely on offline communication to educate, engage and help users, we introduced certain things in our app to send communication, educate, help and gathering information from our users.

Educating users on how they can increase lead conversions.
More examples of how we educate and collect feedback from users

6. Create useful tools for users

There are many other tools we created in the partner app. One more that we can cover in this post is Call reminders. It is one of the well-adapted productivity tools our partners are using to follow-up with customers. It’s need came from one of the user interviews where partners told us they have to use external assistance to manage customer follow-ups and it is quite messy to use a notebook or some other app to do this. By introduction of this feature, partners save a lot of time in managing their leads and customer follow-ups.

Set call reminder feature on iOS

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We are also looking for product designers to join our team. You can learn more about the job role here(Hiring Product Designer at UrbanClap). If you are interested to know more about what we are working on, follow the UrbanClap Design team on Medium or Dribbble.