Archive for December, 2007

Design in China – taking a great leap forward

ApogeeHK published an article I wrote to reflect my experience with User Friendly 2007 and the workshop I did there. Go read it and give them some props 🙂


The rise of the Chinese experience economy
Currently, China’s economy is largely based on an manufacturing-age mindset. This mindset causes the work flow of a product development organization to resemble that of the old assembly line. Everyone is responsible for one task and is rewarded for successfully doing just that. When that task is completed, it is passed on to the next person. Design is just one function in this linear process where collaboration and teamwork is a foreign idea. The product manager writes the specification and gets a design resource to finish “drawing up the concept”. Despite the current situation, I believe that Chinese companies will join the rest of the world in the Experience Economy sooner than we would think. The Chinese economy have been growing at rate that many of us can’t ignore. The government, while still politically far removed from the world, is committed to growing the economy at GDP rates in the teens on average. Thus, Chinese companies will realize, like their Western counterparts, that Design thinking will need to be core to their organizational structure.

The user experience field will take a huge leap forward, working at a higher level in the organizational chart as well a huge demand for design thinking to bring these companies into the next decade. The designers I talk to are ready for it. Consumers will become smarter as spending per capita increases with the rise of the middle class that we see so much of in Beijing, Shanghai, Canton and so many other major cities. Chinese designers are optimistic that this day is coming and they want to be prepared to take that opportunity. I saw great energy and a yearning to build up their skills to face challenges and responsibilities that comes with design being a core competitive advantage of an economy. I believe that the struggles Interaction Designers are facing in China today will soon become an opportunity for them.”