Social status in emergent market
Product Design Lead
User Experience, User Interface, User Testing

Problems & opportunities

In 2016, the company explores new ways to gamify its users' experiences on the platform to boost engagement.

migme is a global digital media company but at its core, a social network with 33+ million monthly active users from emergent markets like Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, the Philippines and Vietnam.

migme has been around for 13 years and though having been through a few brand refreshes, the product design became especially outdated in the years 2010s as new design languages like material design and flat design were introduced and popularized. I joined the team in 2015 to help the team build a new design system and revamp the product's experience.

User's social status, one of the platform's long-lasting features, was among the experiences in need of an upgrade. mig users can acquire labels to distinguish themselves from other users based on their popularity, roles and activities on the platform. We launched our field research to identify our user personas and opportunities to make this feature front and center to users. Here are our findings:

  • People seek out ways to represent themselves positively online
  • The majority of our long-term users and people from mig's user demographics expressed the desire to feel appreciated and recognized in the mig community and online
  • The old mig's social status or label system, as we call it, was outdated, ambiguous and too complex i.e. there were 11 labels for titles like Mentor, Merchant Ranger, Level 1 Merchant, Level 2 Merchant, Chatroom Admin, Global Admin and so on
  • Apart from having labels to display social status next to their usernames, users had no other way of showing off their achievements
The old mig labels

Target customers

mig's customers live in areas with less or limited internet access. We found some common traits amongst our users based on in-depth market research into the internet usage of our targeted markets and a field research ran in Indonesia:

  • Their internet is unstable so they are more likely to own a portable wifi device
  • They are community oriented and like to engage with their inner most circle, they are more reserved to make new friends but follow popular users to consume content
  • Instagram is the most popular in Indonesia and next is Path
  • Their preferred communication apps include Whatsapp, Line, BBM and migme

The field research led to a behavior analysis exercise that helped us narrow down our user personas.

Context & needs

On the user journey there are specific moments where users will see user labels and/or want to acquire user labels. Understanding where these moments were and the online world the mig community occupies was essential to the solution phase:

  • Both new and existing mig users could get access to the feed where they can see user with labels
  • The only other place where users could get more information on these labels was in FAQ
  • mig users spend most of their time on the feed where other users in their network share content, chatrooms where they can meet new users who share the same interest or the game room where they can play online games
  • As a digital media platform, mig also engages local celebrities to run verified accounts on the platform to interact with their local fans; these accounts are popular, generate regular content to attract fans and gather thousands of followers
  • I was tasked with developing the experience on the android platform before translating it to iOS, web, mobile web, WAP and J2ME

High-level initiatives

Our initiatives for this project include:

  • Designing a new label system that is simpler, more comprehensible at first glance
  • Identifying moments where our users will notice, view, celebrate the social statuses and integrate the label system into their user life cycle on migme and designing for visibility and the ability to share those moments

Ideation, user journeys & swimlanes

The first problem that we identified was the complexity of the legacy label system.

Old migme label system

Through regrouping similar labels with the same a) metaphors (semantics) and b) powers (extra privileges and features on the platform like blocking users from a chatroom), we managed to reduce the number of labels to four:

  • Verified user: a user who has been verified by migme as a real person
  • Power user: a user who has satisfied a certain criteria of participation and engagement on the platform (number of followers, number of posts, etc...)
  • Merchant user: a user who is trained by migme to trade mig currency on the platform
  • Partner user: a user who partners with migme to advertise, sell products or gain fans
Our new label system

The introduction of these new labels introduced a new challenge of migrating our old users onto the new system as well as onboarding new users to familiarize with the hierarchy and social structure of the platform. With that in mind, we started exploring the user journeys of these 2 distinct groups and moved onto try out the swim lane flow chart method to understand not only the user task flows but also what happened in the backend.

A social engagement loop, as defined by Zicherman & Cunningham, 2011 - Eltjam

Referenced from the social engagement loop, as defined by Zicherman & Cunningham, 2011, we needed to show: a) visible progress and reward for users who are aspiring to acquire a label,
b) motivating emotion by celebrating the reward or acquisition of a label,
c) social call to action through sharing the rewards and engaging more on the platform, and
d) a reengagement strategy through leveling up or acquiring other labels.


The solution we arrived at provided all users with more visibility and emphasis on the importance and weight of the social status system:

  • The labels remain intact with the username as they are a part of the user's identity which they carry to every experience on migme
  • An achievement page is added to the profile with direct navigation from the profile page where the social status labels are displayed in large format to highlight their importance; users can view their own achievement page and others'
  • Other types of achievements like badges (another gamification reward type on mig) are also included in the achievement page
  • Users can now view the 'powers' or privileges and features that come with their labels and badges
  • Users get notifications when they acquire new labels and can immediately see the powers that come with it
  • Users get new feature tooltips for newly acquired powers
Own achievement page wireframe

Final UI

We took this opportunity to add new graphic elements into the mig platform to strengthen the brand language as well as adding more fun into the whole experience.

Acquiring a new label is now a social experience that can be shared with other users, displayed and celebrated.

Results and room for improvements

Understanding the power of integrating series feedback loops in which a user engages in an action, receives feedback or rewards, and gratification, feels encouraged to reengage and perform the next action has enabled our team to build a social status system in migme that not only increased engagement but also loyalty and user satisfaction. The system was welcomed by our old users thanks to our migration plan and by our new users as they are enticed by the fun graphics and this distinctively different feature in migme as compared to other social networks. We understood that our user demographics' needs are unique and differ from the user demographics of other social network giants like Facebook or LinkedIn therefore a completely different approach and community must be built to satisfy those needs.

My time in mig came to an end shortly after drafting and running the field research, analyzing and synthesizing the user personas, and finally launching the new label system but I carry the learnings with me. The project resonated with me, being from Vietnam and growing up with the same shared desire to reach out to the world outside but spending most of my adult life in Singapore. Needs, desires and world views can shift and change therefore constant engagement with targeted users is a must in order to continuously shape the products to serve the right needs and solve to the right problems.