MTN eShop: Africa’s biggest telco says y’ello to human-centered ecommerce

Design Strategy


A co-creative design-thinking approach to journey mapping for self-service

A steadily growing digital demand in Africa has rapidly developed into a market that booms. Before lockdowns restricted us to work from home and make video calls to see family and friends, feature phones were still the norm for a lot of people in Africa. If you needed to buy something, you went to a brick-and-mortar store. If you wanted to see someone, you paid a visit in person. What felt like overnight, the world changed forever and a demand for smartphones and home internet solutions on the continent soared. Our client, Africa’s largest mobile operator, has always believed that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. MTN was already on the journey of creating a MTN eShop for each of the countries in which it operates, but the pandemic meant they needed to go from concept to launch at lightning speed. MTN eShop prototypes


  • Create a comprehensive set of guidelines for 21 countries to build an e-shop according to their unique market needs, while maintaining the design and functionality standards of the global brand.
  • Co-create and incorporate the ideas and opinions of many individuals in the company, while prioritizing the needs of the people they serve for a user-centric experience.
  • Build and deploy fast, to meet the rising demand for home internet solutions in Africa.



We use a modified remote facilitation of Google’s Design Sprint approach which enables our client teams to identify challenges, give expert opinions and make well thought out decisions based on real customer data in a much shorter time period than they’re used to.

To make it happen, we focus on asking the right questions so we can short circuit the traditional loop that slows progress down. In a design sprint workshop, we aim to investigate the issue, reframe the challenge, design a solution, test the solution and iterate according to feedback.

The global nature of our client, along with pandemic restrictions, created the ideal conditions for remote collaboration. However, remote collaboration creates the challenge of keeping participants engaged. We were fortunate enough to have several members from the countries in which MTN operates to work with.

The teams shared their ideas and concerns through a design sprint process which allowed us to tap into needs and cultures from across Africa. Design sprints are a recipe for remote insight gathering which involves these activities:

Idea workshopping on Miro (digital whiteboard software)

We could quickly identify patterns and prioritise tasks according to the ideas on the Miro board, leaving each participant with the assurance that their voice was heard, their ideas considered co-creatively and their needs would be met through prototyping.

MTN eShop XD design

Design prototyping in Adobe XD

With consolidated feedback and a range of priorities, we built the wireframes to test initial ideas and check the basic layouts with the key stakeholders. Once the decision-makers were happy, we built the site designs in high-fidelity (which looks indistinguishable from the real site) and put it to the test.

Usability testing on Maze

Usability testing is non-negotiable when creating an experience that puts the needs of people first. So we tested our e-commerce solution with everyone we could get involved – internally, externally, with our client and with their users. This provided deep insights into user behaviour paired with frank feedback on the user’s experience, allowing us to tailor the site according to the exposed needs.

Remote 1:1 interviews with the people MTN seeks to serve

The results inspired us to make the MTN eShop more human centric, remove the elements that weren’t adding value and provide a better overall user experience. When you’re too close to the project, an external eye can change the whole game.




A toolkit to build an MTN eShop for home internet solutions that MTNers in any country can successfully build and deploy. The toolkit features all the open files, site map, patch notes and templates a developer needs to get started.

Whether websites are created internally or contracted to external agencies, the templates we created ensure that the consistent design and functionality of the MTN Group brand is maintained in each of its territories.

Now, MTN can offer the level of e-commerce experience their users in Africa have quickly come to expect as the norm. Since MTN Ghana has begun work on their Home Solution e-shop, several other countries have quickly followed suit with the aim of launching their own online stores before the end of 2021.

Build quick, but clean

We understand that the idea of launching a platform that isn’t perfect, but can be fixed later when live, is daunting. The design thinking approach offers a way to ensure you are creating with purpose and truly putting the needs of the people you serve first.

When you prioritize the testing of your solution, you can fix immediate errors quickly and take a reliable solution to market faster than if you had to wait for the solution to be considered perfect. We live in a world where regular updates and improvements to the tools we use has become the norm, and design sprints take advantage of this norm.

Get in touch to discuss how we can bring design thinking to your organization.