While America is packed with internet-loving, social media fanatics, China is still beating our web-focused population with more than 705 million users. Unsurprisingly, China’s consumer load has influenced the way Chinese mobile apps look and function.
WeChat vs Facebook
WeChat is basically the messaging app of China, but unlike western messaging apps, this Chinese gem features a music identifier, newsfeed, games center, wallet, mail client, and video call system. WeChat allows users to hail taxis, order takeout, pay bills, and meet potential dates all from the comfort of one, beautifully designed, little app.
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This multi-functioning attitude is the main difference between western and Chinese app design. Facebook, for example, allows users to message one another via a separate Messenger app, whereas WeChat gives users the option to socialize and complete daily activities, like paying the light bill.
The all-in-one feature of WeChat isn’t exactly unique in Chinese design. Almost every Chinese app has a “Discover” button. This button acts as a portal to extra features – on a map app you might see nearby strangers or local deals. This discover tab enables Chinese apps to stuff in as many features as possible.
Busy, Busy, Busy
There is also a slight difference in Chinese app aesthetic. While western apps tend to be minimalistic, clean, and simple, Chinese apps try to cram in just as much text and color as there are functions.
To confirm this rainbow aesthetic, American tech writer Kendra Schaefer did a comparison between China’s top apps and the top apps of the West and found that Chinese app icon colors are not only brighter, but the in-app design also features more colors than the typical western white space.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Voice messages are extremely popular in the Chinese app market. In fact, celebrities capitalize on WeChat by charging fans for subscriptions, where users receive premium content like daily voice recordings wishing them good morning or goodnight.
QR Codes Made It In China
Remember when QR codes attempted to make it in America, but didn’t? Well, in China QR codes are on just about everything. Each Weibo (China’s Twitter equivalent) and WeChat account has its very own QR code, so friends can add and find other users just by scanning their code.
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QR codes are also popular in restaurants – most establishments will ask their guests to scan the code for promotions or Wi-Fi service.
Different design preferences, functions packed into functions, and privacy barriers define the Chinese app market.
Tabitha Shifiett – Guest Contributor
Tabitha Shiflett is a graduate of the Dub (The University of North Carolina Wilmington, UNCW). She’s written for Her Campus, CBS Local and Elite Daily. She is currently enrolled in the Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism MA program at The New School in New York City.
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