Complex Made Simple

Exclusive: 4 key user experience (UX) principles for ME businesses  

When it comes to User Experience (UX), personalization and customization remain key to successful deployments across online and social platforms. As businesses in the Middle East continue to mature across technology and innovation, it is becoming more and more crucial for trades to keep users-experiences at the core of all its developments.

In an exclusive chat with AMEinfo, RBBi, the Middle East’s region’s first human-centered digital agency provides 4 key insights on regionally focused usability lessons to prepare businesses for the Golden Age of digital UX.

Lesson 1: Arabic translations and mirroring give websites and apps more credibility. 

Arabic translations are especially relevant when the target audiences of a platform are predominately Arabic speakers. In most cases, it is also important that websites or apps are mirrored in Arabic. This, of course, varies from country to country. In the UAE alone, a large number of online expatriates prefer accessing material in English. According to a recent study conducted by Crowd Analyze, leading GCC countries still rate Arabic as their preferred online language; making it important to follow best practices when it comes to Arabic translations.

A report by the International Data Corporation (IDC) also indicates the worldwide IoT market will reach $1.71 trillion by the end of 2020, of which $6.6 billion will come from the Middle East and Africa. These statistics highlight that Middle Eastern societies are tech-savvy and active on social media as elsewhere in the word. Yet, Arabic web content constitutes a mere 3% of the total output on the global web. These figures indicate the immense opportunities for foreign brands that want to build a cultural resonant and thriving online presence in the Arab world.

Read: Online travel agents’ customers are more profitable guests for hoteliers


Best practices:

Hire an Arabic translator that understands the targeted audience and is also well acquainted with the website vocabulary. It is important to adhere to correct Arabic mirroring principles, with language from right to left. provides simple bi-directionality best practices.

It is important that the numerical keyboard pop-ups when entering numbers. This will help reduce errors and will facilitate the user’s process, leading to faster conversion rates. Additionally, although all content must be properly translated to Arabic, this is not the case when entering numeric values. In fact, some users prefer entering all numbers in English characters rather than Arabic. The same applies to purchases on an e-commerce website.

Read: Which UAE bank was most recommended by satisfied customers?

Lesson 2: Websites without Guest Checkout are considered obsolete.

Guest checkout is a feature that allows users to purchase online without having to log in or create an account. Consumers look for the least time-consuming methods of online purchasing, therefore making it important to ensure that the checkout process is as seamless as possible. A Toluna study found that 25.6% of online consumers would abandon a purchase if they were forced to register first.

Best practices:

Ensure guest checkout with only mandatory email input is an option available for all customers, providing businesses with enough information that the customer is willing to provide. 

 Moreover, consider introducing a loyalty program to encourage users to register. Loyalty programs if advertised well can generate strong financial results by engaging guests and creating powerful incentives to encourage more frequent visits and increased spending. Every successful loyalty program starts with a foundation of enrollment and registration. These cornerstone elements fuel growth and propel profitable long-term results.

Read: 5 tech trends blurring the lines between human & machine

Lesson 3: Always recruit participants based on their user profile

Recruiting the right participants is crucial for any platform design. Participants must be able to represent the right or target group end users to ensure accurate results. Even with the best translators, it is important that participants have a good understanding of different cultures and societal practices within the Middle East.

There is a certain misconception that Middle Easterners think and act the same way. It’s easy to categorize Middle Easterners as your usual “Arab” participant. This is wrong in so many ways.  The truth is that the quintessential ‘Arab participant’ is a myth. It is nearly impossible to recruit an “Arab” user and expect them to represent the entire Middle Eastern population.

According to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions (3), cultural trends differ and are based on power distance, individualism, masculinity versus femininity, uncertainty avoidance, long-term versus. short-term orientation and finally indulgence. When looking at these particular factors, it is interesting to see that even neighboring countries have such different outcomes. Therefore, when testing a platform in the region, it is important to account for people with various backgrounds and social standards.


Best practices:

 Define and understand your target audience before recruiting a participant for user testing. Check the difference index associated with a particular target group to understand when to recruit a user.

Read: Data analytics and empathy are equally vital in marketing techniques

Lesson 4: Voice Recognition is increasingly being used in the Middle East.

The rapid proliferation of voice interaction capabilities in our individual digital ecosystems raises critical questions for any business whose work plays a role in the customer experience. It’s becoming clear that voice interaction will soon become an expected offering as either an alternative or even a full replacement to, traditional visual interfaces.

t is also believed that storytelling originated from the Middle East. For centuries, the region prides itself on being the first storytellers of adventures and fantasies. It is clear that Middle Easterners have always had a love for verbal communication, and this is still visible today. In fact, it has been translated to voice recognition features, which can be found on numerous platforms: Whatsapp being the most common one.

With countries such as Saudi Arabia, where 73% of their population are active on Whatsapp, users now use voice notes to communicate more than ever. Successful e-commerce websites such as are now adopting this crucial and differentiating trend by including a voice activating search bar.

Read: Women prolific Twitter users in KSA and UAE. But what do they use it for?

Best practices:

 Voice Recognition should only be added if this feature is fully compliant. Many users tend to be discouraged when the feature does not properly work. Consistent interpretation of commands between visual and voice interfaces will become a key concern for UX designers in charge of navigating this transition phase, particularly for web applications. Without the clear signal of a button click with which to interpret a user’s desired action, it will fall to the designers to anticipate their intent at each point in the conversation and shape the appropriate response.

There’s no denying the Middle East is in its golden age for digital User Experience. In fact, there is an increasing number of job openings for seasoned UXers. The rapid technological changes such as change in operating system, communication technology are pushing advanced mobile UX design services providers to go extra mile for technological advancement to meet the demand of future.

An article by: By Lina Fahmy, Certified Research and Usability Analyst at Red Blue Blur Ideas (RBBi)