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Resources: UPA 2005 Idea Markets

Coping with Expanding Global Markets


Activator: Ashley Pearlman, The Usability Group


The Activator's Initial Questions

With the expansion of global markets, how do we ensure that our firm (or our client s firm), addresses the entire international market early in the design process?

As a consultant, I am faced with this issue with ever more frequency as our clients expand into new global markets, like China and the Pacific Rim. Given that this is the first UPA conference located outside the U.S.A, this issue seems especially timely and relevant to the broader community at large.

Posted Questions

  • How do you ensure that ‘requirements gathering” includes a global audience at the get-go?
  • Do you develop a product for its domestic market first and then localize, or should you consider all markets at once on the front end?
  • How far do you go with developing personas? Domestic only? International, but only the primary markets? All markets?
  • How do project teams that are located all over the world collaborate effectively on the research and modeling process?
  • What are some effective project-management methods used to manage global projects?
  • How are you addressing the language barrier, both within the product itself and for your multi-lingual project team?

 Our attendees, who mainly were usability specialists, shared the following experiences and suggestions for a global market requirements process.

Summary of Results

Requirements-Gathering with Global teams

  • Larger companies have global teams in different parts of the world who provide input.
  • Smaller companies have a centralized team
  • Core team is made up of representatives from each country
  • Hold monthly meetings – face to face when possible (1x/year minimum), but main format for meetings are either video conferences or conference calls
  • Team reviews usability standards, legal updates, etc. and also discusses with IT team
  • Team decides on standards for template structure using agreed upon usability guidelines – no predetermined rules set for color, content etc.
  • For most, English is chosen as the preferred “global” language for ease of implementation
  • Some translation is permitted / enabled / performed (depending on implementation style) for selected countries
  • The internet allows for enablement of more ‘local’ control with some given standards in place. Software applications require more centralized control.
  • Customer research is sometimes initiated via corporate request, other times is initiated within the business division

Implementation with Global audiences

  • Templates are created for ease of implementation and standardization
    • Templates are adapted for use by local cultures and languages
    • Templates are implemented to be self monitored
    • A flexible template can be customized to meet cultural guidelines and needs
  • Though English is primarily used, language customization is important
    • Primary languages for translation are:
      • Chinese (traditional and simple)
      • Korean
      • Japanese
    • Secondary languages for translation are:
      • French
      • German
      • Arabic (new)
      • Greek (little)
  • Languages to be translated require consideration for formatting, layout, and other potentially problematic interface design issues. For example, translation into Arabic flips the interface. The designer has to make sure that the layout will support this: that the tables will still work well, and the browser can well enough handle the reformatting of the page.
  • Language content needs to be considerably simplified for ease of translation to other languages.
  • Help content is often translated at the sentence level.
  • Flash, for example, supports eight (8) different languages. This results in some orientation changes, depending on the language chosen by the user.
  • Avoid hand and body gestures as graphics in the interface design. Ex. using a ‘thumbs up’ button may mean one thing in the USA, but it means something entirely different in other countries and cultures.
  • When products are developed within the USA, it is important to consider that different markets imply different usage models. If we were to treat the USA as an international market, we would have four (4) different regions based on cultural, language, and usage differences!
  • It is important to provide user assistance / help documentation in all different languages being translated. You cannot change just one word in one place; it has to be changed in all places.
    • With every release cycle, companies try to update as much as they can when they can. However, it is nearly impossible to update documentation every time there is a new release. Must allow a buffer in the development /release cycles.

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