top of page

How to design a digital product UX UI Design for Bharat (the real India)?

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

UX UI Design for Bharat
UX UI Design for Bharat


According to the 2011 Census of India:

The urban population of India was approximately 31.16% of the total population. Within the urban population, metro cities accounted for a smaller proportion of around 10-12% of the total population. Even if we extrapolate this data, we presume that most of the population still resides in non-urban spaces. We have enough proof that most Indians reside in a non-metro setup that we call Bharat. If an internet or technology company wants to grow its market share in India, it must penetrate this untapped market.

With the internet and smartphone revolution that took off in 2015- 2020, it is manageable to capture this market. According to a report by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in 2020, the number of wireless (mobile) subscribers in India was around 1.16 billion.

Let's look at a report by the Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) and techARC. It's estimated that the total number of smartphone users in India will reach around 820 million by the end of 2022.

That brings us to new challenges; how do we design digital products and UX UI Design for Bharat that resonate with their lifestyle?

Indian girl using mobile

UX UI Design for Bharat; Key takeaways:


"Almost 100% of tech companies are operated and managed by individuals residing in urban settings, making it challenging to anticipate customers' needs in rural or non-metro areas. Conducting on-ground user research is the solution to this dilemma.

However, executing user research in non-metro or rural settings is not as simple as it may sound. While it is relatively easy to conduct user research in metro or urban environments, where participants are more cooperative and expressive about their issues, offering exciting suggestions, the rural segments present communication challenges. Many rural participants predominantly speak local languages, and even if efforts are made to include those who can communicate in their language, they may still feel intimidated and refrain from opening up. We could delve into a separate, comprehensive blog post on "How to conduct user research for non-urban India?".

The key emphasis here is that user research is essential if it is feasible to undertake.

For example, consider this scenario: The success of platforms like Uber heavily relies on maps for their pickup and drop-off services in cities. However, during our research, we discovered that in small towns and villages, drivers are not reliant on maps. Unlike their urban counterparts, most drivers in these areas are locals who possess an in-depth understanding of the town's routes and fuel stations. Consequently, a feature critical to a cab aggregator in cities may not hold much weight in the context of local transportation in villages and small towns."

Localization over translation

As previously stated, the majority of users primarily communicate in their local language and dialect. By offering them an application in their native language, we facilitate their comprehension and usage. Nevertheless, ensuring that we do not simply translate English words directly into their local language is crucial. Local experts should contextualize and validate the transition to guarantee accuracy and appropriateness.

It is quite common to observe that users, despite being fluent in their local language, have adopted technology-related terms such as "login", "subscribe", "password", "Profile" etc. Therefore, there is no need to unnecessarily translate these specific words when localizing the app.

Optimise apps for low-end phones

When designing, it is important to consider that customers in non-urban areas often do not possess high-end smartphones. They are often constrained by limited phone memory, which means that the competition for space on their mobile devices is more intense. If an app has low usage frequency and takes up a significant amount of space, it is more likely to be uninstalled first.

It is not only the app's size that should be taken into account, but special attention should also be given to designing the interface. Designers typically work on high-end computers, whereas consumers will be using the app on low-end phones. This means that the quality of design created by the designers and what the consumers actually experience can vary significantly.

We strongly recommend that all our designers address usability issues such as color contrast and design for larger touch targets to ensure a better user experience for low-end phone customers.

Design for low cellular network

In remote areas where high-speed internet is not readily available through cellular networks, it becomes crucial to prioritize efficient API calls when designing and architecting the user experience (UX) of an app. This ensures a smoother and more reliable functionality for users in such locations.

To illustrate the significance of this optimization, let's consider an instance where we were collaborating with a client. During our work together, we discovered an issue that occurred when users submitted lengthy survey forms. If a network error or API failure took place, all the form data would be lost, causing inconvenience and frustration for the users.

Implementation: The implementation of our solution involved the following key steps:

  1. Local Data Storage: We restructured the app's architecture to incorporate local data storage capabilities. This modification enabled the app to save the entire form data locally on the user's device whenever network errors or API failures occurred.

  2. Synchronization Mechanism: We developed a synchronization mechanism that continuously monitored network availability. Once a stable network connection was established, the locally stored form data would automatically synchronize with the server, ensuring that no data was lost during transmission.

  3. Error Handling: We implemented robust error handling mechanisms to handle any potential synchronization failures or errors. These mechanisms provided clear instructions to users on retrying the synchronization process and offered appropriate feedback to ensure a smooth experience.

Be ethical

When designing an app for individuals with lower literacy levels, it is crucial to prioritize ethical considerations to ensure inclusivity, accessibility, and user empowerment.

  • Avoid dark patterns: Do not trick them with dark patterns or indulge them with triggers prompting unintentional buying or lending in case of loans.

  • Privacy and Data Security: Place highly emphasis on protecting user data and privacy. Be transparent about data collection, storage, and usage practices. Obtain informed consent from users, clearly explaining how their data will be used, and allow them to control their privacy settings.

  • Training and Support: Provide easily accessible help resources, tutorials, and contextual guidance within the app. Include multimedia elements like videos or interactive guides to assist users in navigating the app's features.

In conclusion, as we explore the design considerations for digital products and apps targeting non-metro India, or Bharat, several key takeaways emerge. Conducting on-ground user research becomes vital to understand the individual needs of consumers in rural areas. By prioritizing localization over simple translation, we can offer applications in their native language, enhancing comprehension and usage. Optimizing for low-end phones and designing for low cellular network connectivity ensures a seamless user experience. Additionally, ethical design practices, such as avoiding dark patterns and emphasizing privacy and data security, promote inclusivity and user empowerment. By embracing these considerations, we can bridge the digital divide and create meaningful experiences for non-metro users in India.

Contact Ungrammary: UX UI Design agency.



bottom of page