WeChat is the power app in China. Anything can be done with WeChat. Recently the platform reached more than 1 billion monthly active users. To simplify life even further, in early 2017, Tencent came out with Mini Programs, and they have become a Chinese mobile sensation. Below is an overview of WeChat mini programs and some of the best case studies out there.
What are WeChat Mini Programs?
As digital marketing agency 31Ten puts it, “mini programs are ‘lite’ apps embedded in WeChat meant for disposable O2O interactions, at the fraction of the cost of a traditional app (20-40%)”. Basically, mini programs are like apps within WeChat, but that you don’t need to download, as they are already available and enabled within WeChat. We all have so many apps on our phone nowadays, so not having to download a new one is a truly a blessing. With the addition of mini programs, WeChat wanted to create its own ecosystem of apps that would replace native apps. Below is an example of bike-sharing platform Mobike, with the WeChat mini program on the left, and the native app on the right (ChinaChannel).
These mini programs have very good UX and are more simplistic in their design, with fewer pages and high-quality visuals. This is because mini programs are purpose-driven. You you them when you need them, leave the mini program and then come back to it later. This makes fewer steps and excellent design a must, and is also why the time to create a mini program is much shorter than that to create a native application.
Mini programs have a different “signature.” The standard square QR code is what is used to identify individuals or companies on WeChat. Mini programs look different, as they have a rounded QR code with the green mini program “logo” in the corner. The four dots and the green accent give it away as a mini program. This is an example of a mini program. This is actually the Tencent Demo for mini programs, so if you scan it, you can see the various functions you can have from standard buttons, to geolocalization, which is highly useful and used by developers when creating mini programs.
5 Most Useful Mini Programs
There are so, so many mini programs nowadays, and its quite hard to filter through all of them and identify the ones that can benefit you. So, below, I’ve compiled some of the ones that I have actually used and swear by. These are not necessarily the coolest in design, but they are definitely the most useful when it comes to daily life in China. Here they are, In no particular order. Enjoy!
1. Tencent Surveys 腾讯投票
This is such an underrated mini program!! If you want to create a poll or a short questionnaire, you can use this mini program and it will generate one for you. Super useful to organize events, answer quick questions, and gather quick statistics. There is a range of survey organization you can pick, and you can have multiple choice answers or a simple “yes” or “no” answer choice, depending on your preference. Scan the code below and see for yourself!
2. Sleepy Sounds 小睡眠
If you have trouble falling to sleep at night, then this is the mini program you need. It essentially has a huge selection of noises and soundtrack to make you fall asleep. The ones shown above are cat’s purring and birds chirping. This is one of the top ranking mini programs, so check it out and sweet dreams!
3. Ofo 小黄车官方版
This is more self-explanatory one. If you need to get around Shanghai, the two main options you have are Ofo and Mobike. I prefer Ofo just because I found the registration process much simpler than with Mobike, and the locking/unlocking function to be more secure. But in all honesty, whatever floats your boat. They are pretty much the same. I’m a sucker for yellow, and seeing the color instantly brightens up my day, so maybe that’s also a reason for all I know.
Don’t bother downloading the app, just use the mini program and you’ll save space on your phone and time!
4. Kering 开云集团创新奢侈品实验室
This is a really cool mini program that Kering came out with last year. With more people paying attention to brands that emphasize CSR and are more respectful of the environment, Kering created this mini program that gained great fame. After imputing all the details of the material and origin of your clothing or accessories, you’ll see an environmental footprint that is generated. Using carbon emissions, air and water pollution and more, a monetary number is produced, that translate into a monetary number based on manufacturing, logistics, sourcing, and production.
Play around with the functions below. You’ll see it’s certainly very eye-opening.
5. Jump Jump 跳一跳
This is for those long bus or metro rides in the morning. If you don’t know what to do, play this game. It’s super addicting and it went viral recently due to the fun nature of the game and the number of people playing. All it consists of is pressing on your smartphone screen and making a little figure jump from one block to another. Super simple in concept, super addictive in the long run. See for yourself and jump, jump!