Five things “Despacito” can teach you about UX design

“Despacito” is the biggest latin pop hit since “The Macarena”. You may hate it or love it but it’s certainly a cross-cultural event worth looking at from different angles.

The record-breaking hit’s rapid rise up the charts was driven in large part by digital channels, as it set both streaming and YouTube speed and volume records. Before the song’s popularity fades away, we wanted to spend some time thinking about what this massive success has to say about UX as a discipline that goes well beyond traditional product design.

Multicultural collaboration can be a tour de force.

Despacito is one of the greatest examples of what happens when a group of talented artists come together to simply create, and the result is a unified tapestry made beautiful through their different cultural influences and perspectives. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s chart topping collaboration, riffed and repackaged by a sagacious Justin Bieber, is a chart topper because each one of them knows what they know. That’s what we at Zemoga have learned in 16 years of collaboration between the North and South America’s. We play nice in the Playa Box and connect easily because our cultures don’t collide, they complement each other.

Find a little help from a friend

Influencers can help you identify and transcend barriers. In the same way that an “unknown” Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee piggybacked on Justin Bieber’s success and reputation in the American market, you can introduce new products and services to users by leveraging someone’s level of influence and reach in their circle. A product can’t exist on its own. When doing UX design, think of the journeys around the product and identify the opportunities for you to give casual users value – a reason to lend their attention to whatever you or your product have to say or offer.

Themes and motivations are universal

Cultural affinity goes beyond language, and people from different cultures can communicate thanks to the similarities of common human attributes like love, success, and happiness. The same way iconography relies on shapes that are familiar to many, good UX relies on affordances and common UX patterns – reducing the friction a user feels when “learning” how to use a new app or navigate a new site. So when designing for people from different cultural backgrounds, always start with the things they have in common, understandings that are familiar to all or most of them, and then layer the specifics on top of that.

Design with all your users in mind

Know your users. They’re different as much as they’re similar. The things that will trigger emotion, action and transaction can vary from one segment of your audience to another. “Despacito” masterfully gives subtle musical nods to different cultures, overlaying flamenco guitar riffs, latin pop melodies, dancehall beats, reggaetón and hiphop in a perfectly cohesive piece of work that unites them all. Keep in mind you should never be designing for only one persona based on your preferences, beliefs, and biases.

No matter what you do, respect the process

Just to get this out of the way: Despacito (“slowly”) is a musical ode to foreplay. In the UX world there’s a process you have to respect and follow. Don’t take shortcuts. Take your time to discover, explore and enjoy the journey. Slowly, but of course “agilely”.

Zemoga’s creative technologists are pioneers in multicultural design and have been driving UX innovation for over 15 years. We’ve helped firms large and small drive awareness and conversion, as well as create new digital products and loyal users. If you’d like to learn more about our proven approach, please reach out.