Designing for A Billion Users: Zixuan Zhao on Baidu’s UX Innovations for The Chinese Market

by Patrick Faller

posted on 10-13-2017

Baidu may not be a household name outside of China, but it is the world’s second-largest search engine and a global goliath when it comes to internet (and AI) innovation. With a potential market of over a billion users, Baidu prioritizes UX design at a scale unheard of in most other companies. A major part of that UX strategy is Zixuan Zhao, a senior UX designer at Baidu, responsible for an app that regularly tops 400 million users.

At Adobe MAX, Zixuan will share some of the UX challenges and some of his company’s innovations during his talk Baidu Design: UX Innovations for A Billion Users. Ahead of that, we asked him to tell us more about designing for the Chinese market.

Your handle UX for an app with a staggering 400 million users. What’s your guiding principle?

Making a complex world simpler is my design philosophy. Humanistic, emotional, data-driven, and service system design are important factors for me in creating intuitive, elegant, and engaging user experiences.

What are the unique UX challenges of designing for the Chinese market?

China has the largest number of internet users in the world. Social stratification and user diversity are the root UX challenges of designing for the Chinese market. At Baidu, inclusive design, personalization, and care for the disadvantaged are our approaches to meet these challenges.

For example, we not only design user experience-based rich snippets that answer searchers’ questions as quickly as possible for queries, but we’ve also created 106 custom-designed rich snippets to provide effective and efficient service such as traveling, restaurants, entertainment, public welfare, and more. We’ve created consistent user experiences among complex demands.

Baidu is known for its UX innovations. What ways have you found to improve user experience?

Basically, there are two types of UX innovation at Baidu.

First, we design for service experiences in order to explore opportunities for improvement and innovation within service systems.

Second, we create compelling disruptive UX innovations driven by cutting-edge technologies in the age of AI. For instance, Duer, a conversational interface, enables us to shift the focus from serving individuals to families.

What about collaboration at Baidu? With such a big organization, how do UX designers collaborate quickly to create successful user experiences?

Designers share the same goal and the same mindsets at Baidu, which lays a solid foundation for effective collaboration. Specifically, we are focused on the same design goal, and that is to balance the desirability, feasibility, and viability, while we follow the same mindsets such as service design and humanistic design.

Within this context, we combine the mindsets of agile and design thinking to define problems and find solutions.

What should UX designers know about UX in China, before they starting doing work in the Chinese market?

There are two main points.

Primarily, UX designers need to constantly update their understanding of Chinese users with the intention of responding to rapid changes.

Most importantly, app promotion, marketing, and operation design are the driving forces behind product success in China. We are enthusiastic to build connections with users through the emotional designs of splash screens, on-boarding pages, activities, app’s pages, promotions in social networks, and websites for every festival, event, and update.

Why are you passionate about UX design?

I believe it is the diversity of user requirements, and that gives me more opportunities to fulfill my potential in different design areas such as the mobile app, conversational interface, and artificial intelligence.

To learn more about Zixuan Zhou’s work and Baidu’s UX innovations for the Chinese market, check out his talk at Adobe MAX.

Topics: Creative Inspiration & Trends, Design