More than 20 companies in Africa are using web design to create business opportunities
As Africa moves forward in building its economy and becoming a global hub for innovation, some of the world’s biggest companies are looking to incorporate web design into their projects.
From designing the new iPhone to creating the latest mobile phone models, African companies are taking a cue from Google’s design language and experimenting with new and creative ways to create online presence.
“In Africa, we’re starting to see a lot of innovative and creative approaches,” said Rania Rizvi, vice president for global brands at Adobe.
“There are lots of companies that are really using web technology and it’s a good way to engage with audiences and to get feedback from them, and to build their brand.”
To that end, African brands are using Google’s open platform to create a wide range of websites, apps, social networks and games.
While there are currently more than 2,000 African websites, many of which are created using Google Sketchup, there are more than 5,000 apps created on the platform, according to Adobe.
For many African companies, this has been a critical piece of their digital strategy, said Rizwi.
“A lot of companies have to make decisions about where they want to put their brand,” she said.
For example, for a tech startup, Rizi said it would be a good idea to place a few of its online sites in Africa.
But, as Africa moves to an emerging stage, many businesses are also experimenting with the use of technology and the design language of Google SketchUp.
“It’s a really new approach,” Rizzi said.
“You see a number of companies building these online spaces and they’re using the same tools that you would use to build an iPhone.
And it’s really interesting.”
For example, an app created by a group of African entrepreneurs called Afro Design Studio has a number on the app, but instead of an app icon, it has an emoji and a design language called SketchUp that has been inspired by Google Sketch.
“What we wanted to do is build an app where people can see a different design language that’s more responsive, more flexible and more responsive to their needs,” said CEO, Kadeem Ali.
The idea of using technology to make digital sites more interactive is not new.
In 2013, Facebook created a tool to make mobile apps more interactive that could also be used for creating a website.
But with the advent of mobile devices, the popularity of apps is now growing at a much faster pace than online sites.
“You can see this trend in the growth of the mobile internet in general, and mobile apps,” said Ali.
“We are seeing more and more mobile apps, and that’s because people are more active in social media.”
For some companies, the growth in mobile applications has also allowed for a greater use of the technology to create more interactive experiences for customers.
“This is something that we have seen quite recently in South Africa, especially in urban areas, where they have a lot more mobile applications and a lot fewer web sites,” said Adrienne Boudreau, chief digital officer at Ease, an African digital agency that works with African companies.
For example the agency recently created an app that allows people to upload a photo, make a comment and share it on social media.
The app uses Google Sketch to create the interface for this, which is then made available to people on their mobile devices.
“So that’s a great way for people to share and connect with each other, and the app also gives people a way to share their photos with the world,” said Boudreaux.
This is also an example of using Google to create an interactive site on an iOS device, said Ali, noting that Ease’s app is available on the App Store in South African.
The use of design language to create sites and apps has also been popular in Europe.
In Europe, companies are often able to build a design based on what Google’s designers are producing, said Baudreau.
“In the U.S., we have a very limited amount of time and resources to develop design that’s good for our customers, but also to get their ideas across,” she added.
For instance, in the U.-Brussels fashion market, the likes of L’Oreal, Versace and Dior have a number design languages.
“They all have very specific design languages and it gives them a very strong foothold in the fashion market,” said Taryn F. Daley, CEO of Dyson.
“With a number, it allows for an open communication with people, whereas with a font, it’s more restricted.”
Dyson is also developing a tool that allows users to customize a site’s look.
“People have different tastes, and they are really excited to be able to have their own site,” said Faley.
“When people create a design that they want, then they can share it and then they’re able to use it in the marketplace. “
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