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MENA Market: Oriental Design Features cover

MENA Market: Oriental Design Features

The events unfolding on the world stage have played their part in the global reorientation. And those who previously sought to conquer the West are now actively looking to the East. A promising direction attracts more and more businessmen. The original eastern market, in turn, has a number of features that should be taken into account in order to gain trust and replenish the client portfolio with new contacts, and preferably contracts. On the example of specific cases, we will analyze several nuances when creating a design for Eastern clients.

Throughout the history of the company's development, we have had many clients from the countries of deserts and dunes. It is difficult to give an exact number, but about a third of design requests are from customers from Turkey and representatives of MENA countries - the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and others.

Eastern projects with which we managed to work during this time are very diverse: online stores, fintech sector, streaming platforms, applications of various types (from social to entertainment products). The abundance and variety of client applications made it possible to highlight similar design features that are more typical for the audience of the East than the West.

Premium Style Preference

Before the start of the UI phase, we always offer the client several style directions as part of the moodboard — a collage of ideas. The choice of Eastern customers very often falls on the premium style. Why so, let's discuss. What is the East associated with? With luxury and wealth, therefore, design accents at the request of customers should reflect a high standard of living. What is Premium Style? These are serif fonts, a b/w palette with bright accents, a special selection of photo content, icon styling, and more. Everything that at a glance reflects luxury living. The main thing is not to overdo it. It is necessary to strike a balance so that the design remains luxurious, modern and minimalistic at the same time with an abundance of premium elements.

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An example of a premium style is a project that came to us from Kuwait. The task of the design team was to design the client side and admin panel of the web application. The project itself is a streaming platform for certain sports: equestrian sports, tennis and padel tennis. What is especially remarkable about this site is the large number of screens - there are about 200 of them. You can find out how we managed to bring our plans to life here.

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Arabic interface language

Decided on the style. What's next? The first thing you need to know before creating an oriental design is multilingualism. That is, in what language it is planned to issue the application and whether it will be possible to switch to another if necessary. Why is it important? Multilingualism significantly affects the assessment of the scope of work, as it involves an additional language selection screen for the client. The biggest snag here is that Arabic is read from right to left. All elements are mirrored, and even the back button will be located on the right, and not vice versa. Therefore, the oriental design interface needs to be completely rebuilt taking into account this feature.

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One of the largest projects that meets the sign of multilingualism came to us from the UAE - we developed the design of the marketplace for the client. This is a very large scale product.

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It took a lot of time and effort to create the application, a lot of roles had to be worked out: the client side, couriers, administrators, managers, sellers. About 500 screens were designed, not counting the Arabic version and responsive ones (a way to correctly display the interface, in which the site itself adapts to any screen size and resolution). After the launch, the customer's team redesigned the logo and returned to us again for redesign and illustrations.

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Bright colors

The third feature of oriental applications is the abundance of color. Strict and conservative Europeans, as a rule, strive to simplify the color scheme in website design as much as possible. Calm and mostly nude tones and shades are held in high esteem. Oriental clients, on the other hand, welcome the expressive color approach. This is the case when a designer should not be afraid to make a button brighter than is customary in the European market. There is no need to go far: from our practice, many clients have asked to use richer and more saturated colors in the elements. And such a request is by no means a personal preference of the customer. If you delve into the details, it becomes clear that the love of brightness is one of the features of the local target audience. Oriental design is much more colorful than we are used to seeing on professional venues. When creating a design project for an Eastern client, this factor should definitely be taken into account.

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The most unusual project that demonstrates the above for a client from Turkey is a mobile game for passing quizzes. What is its feature? The application is as close to real conditions as possible and is very similar to the game, but only in offline format. In it, you can create online rooms and compete with entire teams by answering questions. But it's better to see once than hear a hundred times - look for our case on Behance.

Thoughtful meaning illustrations

Despite the bright color accents, the choice of illustrations does not imply excessive expressiveness, an orientation towards modesty and restraint. Particular attention should be paid to the choice of characters for illustrations. In some countries, for example, in Saudi Arabia, it is not customary to use photographs of women without traditional clothing - hijab, in others - this is allowed, but with some reservations (only strict images, including for men). In no case is it allowed to post illustrations with frank or provocative poses. Clients of this region carefully treat their culture and traditions, therefore, the restrictions associated with religion and mentality cannot be neglected.

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Features of communication

The strict mentality of Eastern culture can be traced not only in the very approach to design, but also in the communication between the customer and the contractor. In the course of work, we often communicate with clients live or through comments in the Figma program and noticed several patterns in interaction. Eastern customers carefully draw up the brief and expect the same carefulness in the designer's layouts. A lot of attention is paid to the details, everything must be worked out to the pixel. This thoroughness is reinforced by a more formal style of communication. 

Despite all the features and special identity of the East, IT products for this market still obey the basic design principles: minimalism, following trends, ease of use and accessibility for all users. The nuances described above only add to their uniqueness and originality.


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