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Conquering China: How to create a mini WeChat program?

  • Xenia Liashko
  • 2020-01-04 17:18:27

China means WeChat. In this article, we explain how to create a mini-program WeChat - a small application required for every company that is directed to this huge market.

 

What is the WeChat mini program and how does it work?

In less than a decade, the Chinese messenger Tencent WeChat developed into a complete and largely independent ecosystem similar to China. Today, WeChat offers a social media network, app store, stores, its own payment system and a huge selection of mobile games.

Virtually everyone in China spends time at WeChat, which is why it's the perfect place to advertise and sell products. And thanks to WeChat mini-programs, sub-applications in the WeChat application, it's easier than ever.

WeChat mini-programs are small applications integrated directly with WeChat and running in the WeChat application. They differ from conventional applications in that they run faster, are easier to develop and do not require installation. They also offer companies access to a huge WeChat user base. But they have their limitations.

 

In addition, users cannot share mini-programs on WeChat Moments, a social network for WeChat users.

There are two ways to use the mini-program for your business:

  1. Create a mini-program containing only the most important functions and offer your clients a complete application for everything else.
  2. Create several mini-programs, each of which has only a few functions.

Although it is possible to have only a mini-program without creating a native mobile application, most companies use these mini-programs to provide customers with the most important functions, but still offer a full-size application for those who want it. The mini-program can also be used as an advertisement for the main native application.

Which Companies Need Mini-programs?

China will likely use WeChat regardless of your company's target audience. So there is nothing wrong with having a mini-program. However, there are companies that can use one (or more) WeChat Mini more than others.

Internet data transmission plans in China are expensive - to the extent that only about 58% of citizens have access to the Internet. As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest advantages of WeChat Mini is that they are small and do not need to be installed. By using the mini-program instead of the native application, customers can save Internet data. This makes mini-programs particularly popular among users with low purchasing power - especially in level 3 and 4 cities.

Most purchases through mini-programs in 2018 were between 200 and 1000 yuan a month (that's about 30 to 145 USD). So if you sell inexpensive products or services and / or your potential customers spend little, you definitely need the WeChat mini-program.

At the same time, the ease with which users can achieve their goals through mini-programs - buying things, completing tasks, or simply killing for some time in the game - makes them popular in Level 1 and Level 2 cities.

What types of mini-programs are available on WeChat?

The short answer to this question is of all kinds. If you can encode it in JavaScript, is within the 10 MB limit, and it complies with the WeChat Terms of Service and Chinese law, you can transform it into a mini WeChat program.

WeChat news

Since the majority of China's Internet users - 600 million - using WeChat, it is not surprising that it has become a major player in the press industry. The mini-program can be a communication channel through which users can interact with news agencies and create a quick link to official WeChat accounts, through which you can add updates immediately and effortlessly. Whether you are an official news agency or an influential person on YouTube, you can easily get new followers thanks to the mini-program.

WeChat mini-games

Mini-games are becoming more and more popular on WeChat: in 2018, the average time spent on WeChat games increased more than threefold from 5.3 to 17.4 minutes a day.

WeChat mini-games are similar to hyper-casual games because they offer short sessions, are lightweight, have easy-to-understand mechanics, and are still quite diverse. If you're interested in creating mobile games, check out our guide on how to create a hyper-free game.

As of May 2019, Games accounted for 15% of the 100 best WeChat mini-programs.

Wechat e-Commerce

E-commerce accounts for 18% of all mini-programs at WeChat. The platform offers two important incentives for e-commerce companies to use mini-programs:

  • The WeChat user base is one of the largest in China
  • The speed of loading mini-programs causes impulsive purchasing decisions

It's easy to think about your buying decision while waiting for the page to load. Mini programs load quickly (because they are small), and their smooth integration with WeChat Pay (WeChat's own payment system) allows for quick purchases. Users see the product, see that it is overpriced (for example, seasonal sale) and buy in the blink of an eye.

In most cases, however, this only applies to inexpensive products.

O2O (online-offline)

The mini-program has recently been increasingly used in stationary facilities, such as restaurants and car garages. McDonald's China has a mini-program that gives customers discounts when they show the cashier the mini-program on their phone. Bets can place an ad with a QR code on a discount coupon near their store: customers scan the QR code, send it to the WeChat mini-program, download and get some benefit from using it. Rebates and bonuses are the most common use of mini-programs in stores.

How to Create your Own WeChat Mini-program

Developing WeChat mini-programs is not difficult if you are a programmer with JavaScript skills, the programming language used to create mini-programs. If you are not a developer yourself, you can send this task to a programming company at any time.

The whole process of developing WeChat mini-programs is quite simple: most of the functions in mini-programs are standard. You can customize the appearance of WeChat Mini, but this adjustment is limited. API integration is also limited - HTTP requests are only allowed for sites approved by WeChat. The reason for all these limitations is perfect integration and fast functionality in the WeChat ecosystem.

Tencent (the parent company of WeChat) provides programmers with software for writing code (or pasting it if they write it in another program), checking if the application looks, tests and sends. All you need is a mini-program account to use the software. After checking and approving the mini-program, it is online and users can search for it on WeChat.

The only difficulty is finding the creator of the WeChat Mini application - a specialist who can write code using Tencent's proprietary JavaScript structure. At EightDevs, our front-end developers know WXML and WXSS very well, so we can help you create a mini-program.

Here are some recommendations on what to look for when creating a successful mini-program:

  1. Most uncomplicated - All additional steps take up the space allocated to the application and give users more time to complete the task.
  2. Simplify the design of your WeChat Mini program. Thanks to mini-programs you can do things quickly and efficiently. So remove everything that serves no purpose.
  3. Prioritize - find out which features customers use most often in your native application or website and create a mini-program that incorporates these features.
  4. Focus on one function (or a maximum of two) - Build multiple mini-programs around basic functionality instead of trimming this function to mimic a native application.
  5. Flexible design is needed - older and smaller mobile phones are not so rare in China.

How to Advertise Your WeChat Mini-program

There are two popular ways to share content on WeChat: sending content to personal and group chats, and publishing to WeChat Moments. As we mentioned before, you can't share links to moments, including links to mini-programs, so you can usually chat directly with others.

But like most obstacles in life, there are ways to work around this.

Recently, companies have started to use QR codes to advertise mini-programs at Moments. This is a smart way around the prohibition of sharing links, because the QR code is essentially just an image, even if it hides the link it contains.

Contact popular WeChat users - influencers, opinion leaders - and ask them to promote your mini-program. This is one of the best options, especially if your business includes e-commerce in the fashion and cosmetics industry. There is currently a large selection of popular Chinese cosmetics bloggers, and most of them have WeChat accounts with thousands of followers. You can release the QR code of your mini-program in moments that anyone can see and observe.

And of course you can use the digital vine at any time - direct conversations with specially designed small banners. We recommend designing banners releasing mini-programs so that they are diverse, colorful and attractive, so that the card is easily recognizable and saved in the active chat after its release.

How much does the Wechat Mini program cost?

In addition to the speed of development, low development costs are one of the biggest advantages of mini-programs.

The WeChat mini-program can be developed with the following specialists:

  • 1 project manager
  • 1 user interface/user interface designer
  • 1 frontend programmer
  • 1 backroom programmer

Mini-program tests can be carried out directly in the software provided by Tencent, so no traditional quality control specialist is required.

You can also skip the backend in two cases:

  • If your mini-program is just an addition to the native application, in this case, you will have the same server
  • If no data storage is required, your mini-program does not require a server

Because WeChat Mini programs usually have only a few functions, their development is easy and quick. The cost of the WeChat Mini program depends largely on your business and the specific features you need to implement. If you are interested, please contact us for a quote.

WeChat mini-programs for the Chinese market

WeChat mini-programs are young, but they are increasingly used. Anyone who aspires to the Chinese digital market should probably create a mini WeChat program - or at least take it seriously. Although the whole concept is not perfect, the advantages of WeChat Mini are already obvious:

  • WeChat ad with a large user base
  • Wide opportunities to acquire new customers
  • Easy integration with the WeChat ecosystem
  • Low development costs and easy to run
  • Easily accessible and you don't have to download it

If you are looking for an opportunity and looking for information on creating applications for the WeChat platform, please contact us. Our specialists answer all questions, give tips and recommendations and prepare cost estimates.

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