Designing better user accounts for Indian families
India is a collectivist society and yet our digital accounts are individual!
Back in my hometown, my parents have their daily morning rituals. My dad wakes up in the morning, picks up his bag to do his mandatory visit to the Kirana store. He buys milk and vegetables for the day and hands them over to my mom.
When someone gets married in the family, the women gather together to do the wedding shopping for the bride. Even today when I plan to go to the movies with friends, it starts with a WhatsApp group to coordinate the time and one person books the ticket for the rest.
India - The collectivist society
The Indian society is collectivistic that promotes interdependence. Collectivist cultures emphasize the needs and goals of the group over the desires of each individual. In these cultures, the identity of the individual is shaped by the relationship that they share with the group.
On contrary, the West promotes individualistic cultures where the needs of the individuals are prioritized over the group. In such cultures, people are considered good if they are self-reliant and independent.
Despite being a collectivist society the digital-first businesses do not allow us to collaborate on tasks with others rather restrict us to individual user accounts. I mean you could never replicate the joy of a family walking through the aisles of Big Bazaar purchasing their monthly household groceries on an Amazon app.
Indians love to shop with their entire families so the stores must cater to children and senior citizens as much as young couples. And of course, that Indians come dressed up for shopping as if it's a social occasion for them!
- It Happened in India, Kishore Biyani & Dipayan Baishya
Building better user accounts for India
Let's start by mapping the kind of relationships we share with others. In the below visual the inner circle represents the close-knit relationships and the outer circle represents the weak tie relationships. This construct would vary for different individuals but offers us an easier way of understanding relationships.
The closer a member is towards the inner circle, the stronger the relationship is. We share close-knit relationships with few and share weak tie relationships with a relatively larger number of people. Now, let’s map the kind of activities we perform with these groups and their frequency.
Based on the frequency of interaction, we could arrive at two types of user account constructs.
Family accounts (Permanent), where the family member’s user profiles are linked to each other.
Collaborative spaces (Temproary), where the friends/extended family are invited to discuss and collaborate on a specific task.
These are permanent user account constructs where one could link the family members through email id or phone number.
Family accounts could tag the members to the relationship, age and could be awarded certain permissions that enable them to help each other.
Some of the new product feature that could arise from family accounts are:
Shared payment methods, where children could add the items to the shopping cart and one of the parents would pay for them.
Assisted workflows, where the tech-savvy children could book a cab for their elderly dad and the parent receives the cab tracking screens alone along with the driver’s contact.
Use case: Pay via family member
These temporary constructs where one could invite the extended family members or friends to collaborate on a specific task.
Collaborative spaces are live during the task and vanish post the task completion.
Some of the new product feature that could arise from collaborative spaces are:
Group bookings, where people add their favorite products to a shared cart and shortlist them based on opinion polls, voting or chat.
Split payments, where the individuals of the group are shared independent payment links to complete the cart transaction.
Use case: Group booking of tickets
The permanent and the temporary user account constructs applied to your app’s context would give raise to different product features.
This is an opinion piece on design and I am happy hear your perspective on the post. If you find this interesting, do spread the word :)
About Dharmesh Ba
I love listening to stories and narrating them. I run a fintech user research lab called D91 Labs, where we document financial journeys of India. I primarily work at the intersection of design, finance and technology. I head product marketing at fintech API startup Setu.co and co-organise DesignUp, an annual design in tech conference.
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Icon and illustration credits: Iconscout