Designers need to consider the user behaviours and habits of Chinese people – Manfred Wang

Having propelled BenQ and Qisda Corporation into the international spotlight, and accumulated over 20 years of experience in industrial design, David Wang points out that the cognitive psychology and user habits of Chinese people are different to those of people in Western societies. When designing products for Chinese people, these factors need to be incorporated into the design process.

Wang mentions a collaborative project between BenQ and Siemens that he remembers from his time at BenQ over a decade ago. BenQ and Siemens collaborated on a project. Siemens wanted to promote their mobile phones in the Chinese market, and their research showed that vastly different design considerations were needed across different regions and different social groups. For example, if the target consumers were farmers, the ringtone volume needed to be very loud to ensure a farmer working in the fields could hear it. This function is, however, less critical for city dwellers.

The unique culture, lifestyle, and habits of Chinese people need to be considered when designing a product for the Chinese-speaking market. For example, when Chinese New Year approaches, many people in China travel, most commonly by train, from the city back to their hometowns to spend time with their families. Given the distances many must travel–it is not unusual for travelers to spend a full day or more on a train–the ability to change a battery rather than recharge it is an essential consideration when designing an MP3 player for the Chinese market.

The cognitive psychology of Chinese people is different to that of people who have grown up in Western countries, Wang says. Using colors as an example, he notes that the color red is often used in the West to indicate danger. In Chinese culture, however, it represents good fortune. Chinese and Western people also use specific products differently. For example, a wine refrigerator is merely functional in the West; it is most often placed in the kitchen or in a storage room. In China, this appliance is a symbol of wealth and status. Chinese owners will display their preferably transparent fridge in the living room, allowing guests to admire the owner’s wine collection.

As David Wang concludes, “The cognitive psychology and user habits of Chinese people are more or less different to those of the people in Western societies. Different considerations must be made when designing products and consumer experiences for the Chinese-speaking market. This is still a necessary process, despite the fact that the Chinese market is becoming increasingly internationalized.”

About David Wang

David Wang studied in Germany and, once graduated, worked at the internationally renowned car manufacturing company, Porsche, where he was in charge of body design. In 1995, he became Director of the Design Center at Acer Group, and in 2002, he joined BenQ where he helped to develop the Lifestyle Design Center. The Center blends Chinese concepts with the design language of the West to create a unique design process. From 2007, he also worked a Vice President and Chief of Design at Qisda Corporation. Since October 2003, he has led the designs that won both BenQ and Qisda Corporation 375 international design awards including iF, Red Dot, IDEA, and Good Design awards. Wang currently serves as a professor in the Department of Design at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) and Senior Creative Advisor at Qisda Corporation.

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