Importance of UX and UI in digital economy

Bengaluru is amongst the top 15 cities in the world that have generated the maximum search interest for UX in the last 12 months

New Update

India is among the three largest economies in terms of the number of digital consumers in the world. The country’s internet subscribers have more than doubled to 560 million in 2018 from 239 million in 2013. India is the home to the second-largest instant messaging service users as well as the largest social media users in the world. Among the mature and emerging digital economies in the world, India ranked second in 2018 in terms of digital adoption between 2013 and 2018 – next only to Indonesia.


At the same time, India’s monthly mobile data consumption per user, stood at 8.3 gigabytes (GB) per month – up over 54 times the figure in mid-2016 and higher than countries like China at 5.5 GB per user, and comparable to digital leaders like South Korea at 8-8.5 GB per user. Digital penetration in India is fast becoming the unifying force between India (the urban centers) and Bharat (the rural hinterlands). Sample this, between 2014 and 2018, of the 10 states with the highest rate of growth in internet subscriptions, seven had per capita GDP lower than India's average.

Among the lower-income states, Uttar Pradesh alone added 36 million internet subscriptions, 12 percent of total incremental internet subscriptions India added during this time period. The digital economy is being shaped by the urge to connect directly to the people – offering cost-efficient solutions using digital channels as key communications and distribution platforms.

As per a recent report released by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in collaboration with McKinsey & Company, titled “India's Trillion Dollar Digital Opportunity”, India has the potential to quintuple its digital economy by 2025 – i.e. in the next 6 years. Presently, the Indian economy stands at $200 billion and the report states that the move from the “business-as-usual” onto the digital trajectory would create economic value of anywhere between $500 billion to $650 billion by 2025 towards the full potential scenario where the digital economy can create economic value of $1 trillion by 2025.


However UX/UI remain at a nascent stage

At the same time, in the entire 296 paged report, the word “user experience” only appears five times while the word “user interface” doesn’t appear at all. The word “interface” appears in pre-teens and that too often in the context of specific products. The words “website”, “design” and “experience” are also used sparsely. The word “Artificial Intelligence or AI” is used more than the word “website” (other than those used under reference). This is a clear reflection of the state of UX/UI design in the country, which despite being the foundation of shaping the digital experience, driving engagement and forging user behaviors – is often overshadowed by buzzwords and macro trends.

UX or user experience is the science and art of crafting digital experiences. UX design facilitates a digital experience that is easy, engaging and habit forming. As per NelsonHall, the current market size of the global User experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) industry is $5308 million – expected to grow at a CAGR of 15.4% to $10956 million by 2022. Indian UX industry remains fragmented and nascent as compared to the developed countries.


UX/UI narrative in India is poised for tremendous growth

As the digital economy of a nation of 1.3 billion begins to take shape, there are some key trends that are not only making UX/UI relevant but also shaping a distinct growth trajectory for the industry in the coming years.

India as an experience economy: The world economy has reached the fourth stage of evolution: Agrarian economy > Industrial economy > Service economy > Experience economy. Today, businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers, and that memory itself becomes the product: the "experience". Accessibility, interaction, and trust are the cornerstones of the experience economy. For example, a large global company selling pumps in India is incorporating IoT to ensure that the customers are able to access data on the operations on demand. Not only the UX design has to make this action seamless and non-intimidating but also offer data at a glance to help the user make sense of the same. Businesses are also reinventing themselves, as the users become more demanding. Gone are the days when just building a digital product or service would ensure that users will come. Clean code, fast servers, big discounts are table stakes. UX is the new battleground for companies.


Attention is the new gold: Lots of options and a host of colors, fonts, layouts, texts, animations – and the list goes on. On an average, Indians spend close to 5 hours on their mobile phone – which is not only the primary surfing platform but also now for streaming media content. The number of available apps in the Google Play Store was most recently placed at 2.6 million apps. Apple's App Store remained the second-largest app store with almost 2 million available apps. So many options have made customers extremely demanding and choosy. So much choice required a digital experience to be nothing short of extraordinary to catch the user’s attention, earn their trust and loyalty. At the same time, smaller screen sizes have forced digital experiences to be absolutely laser-focused and clutter-free. Smaller screens and even smaller attention spans are now demanding an experience that is not just simple but Hyper-Simple.

Top companies are UX obsessed: Stock market data shows that UX leaders (companies who have made UX a strategic imperative) have consistently outperformed the market index even in bad times. AFGA (Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon) are poster boys of the digital economy. Their journey from the garage to global domination is fantastic case studies for what happens when companies make UX their single-minded focus. India is now on the radar of such companies as the next big growth market. In the past five years, most of the large corporates across sectors namely finance, retail, telecom, media, and tech –have been on a mission of digitizing their offerings as well as engaging with their stakeholders with greater efficiency. Be it their websites, apps or in-store kiosks - the UX design’s footprint is getting bigger and prominent. The Indian private sector is presently leading the UX/UI narrative in the country – with companies going beyond offering websites with standard templates for disseminating information - to offering digital presence across key platforms – thereby seeking to transform the user’s intent to know into the intent to buy, transact, engage or contribute. However in the past four years, with the democratization of data led by affordable high-speed internet, the governments (both at the state and central level) are also sprucing their digital presence and platforms to engage beneficiaries directly – thereby reducing pilferage and improving the precision of delivery.

India as a global UX design hub: The growing relevance of India as a consumption market, the internet-savvy customer segment, vernacular and regional complexities and digital as a great leveler -  all of these and more are putting India into the global UX design map. Google search trend analysis shows that ‘UX’ as a term is hitting peak search volumes globally in the last 12 months. Bengaluru is amongst the top 15 cities in the world that have generated the maximum search interest for UX in the last 12 months. UX/UI in a fast-growing digital-first economy can propel India to be a key player globally in the coming years – led by the urge to replace or replicate the complicated physical touchpoints with more efficient, unbiased and cost-effective digital interactions/ platforms. The key ingredient to achieve this goal would be an institutionalized approach to develop, train and nurture talent and skill sets that can cater to the ever-changing and ever-demanding UX/UI landscape.


India is poised for an orbital shift in terms of digital adoption and transaction

Being a late mover has its perks in terms of a lower cost of replication, access to the latest technology and evolving user habits. As the potential evolves; so, will the complexities but the growth will eventually come through to put India on the map of UX design and also lead to an evolved, consolidated UI/UX landscape in India.

By Saurabh Gupta, co-founder, ZEUX Innovation