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Cross-Cultural User-Interface Design

Designing for Differences and Similarities

User interfaces must be usable, useful, and appealing to culturally diverse user communities globally. Developers must account for cultural aspects in globalizing/localizing products and services. Participants will learn principles and techniques useful for analysis and design; they will put their understanding into practice through pen-and-paper exercises.


Tutorial by Aaron Marcus (Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc.)
Category:
Track:
General
Time:
8:30am to 5:30pm on Monday, May 24, 2010

About the Tutorial

The following is the schedule of events and time allocations:

Time Topic

09:00 Tutorial begins

09:00-09:15 Lecture 0: Introduction to Tutorial and Background of Speaker

09:15-10:15 Lecture 1: Culture Dimensions and UI Design

10:15-10:30 Exercise 1: Cross-Cultural Conversations

10:30-11:00 Break

11:00 11:15 Exercise 1: Cross-Cultural Conversations, continued

11:15-12:15 Lecture 1: Culture Dimensions and UI Design, continued

12:15-12:30 Lecture 2: Applying Cultural Models to UI Design

12:30-14:00 Lunch

14:00-14:45 Exercise 2: Mapping Culture Dimensions to UI Component

14:45-15:05 Lecture 3: Culture and Corporate Website Design 15:05-15:30 Lecture 4: Best of Breed Culture Dimensions

15:30-16:00 Break

16:00-16:20 Lecture 5: Culture and Mobile UI Design (New!) 16:20-16:45 Lecture 6: Culture and Social Networking Services Design (New!)

16:45-17:30 Exercise 3: Designing a UI for a Culture

17:30 Tutorial ends

Detailed Material Description and Allocation of Time: Lecture 0: Introduction to instructor(s) and tutorial (15 minutes) This period will introduce the presenter(s) and to discuss how the techniques that will be discussed fit into the user-interface development process, including an introduction to globalization/localization issues. We’ll show several examples of questionable cross-cultural communication and discuss several cultural anthropological theories briefly. We’ll ask for participants’ own experiences in difficulties of communicating across cultural boundaries. Lecture 1: Introduction to cultural models and examples from the Web (60 minutes) Illustrated lectures will introduce each of five dimensions of culture: (power distance, individualism vs. collectivism, masculinity vs. femininity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term time orientation. For each dimension, we shall explain the characteristics and their potential impact of work, education, and family life, and show examples of Websites from different countries, but with the same subject matter that demonstrate indigenous cultural characteristics. Criticisms of Hofstede’s dimensions and alternates will be discussed, including Shalom Schwartz’s model. New material from Hofstede’s second edition will be shown. New material from Web 2.0 examples and mobile UI examples will be shown. Lecture 2: Applying Cultural Models to UI Design (15 minutes) Illustrated lecture will summarize the research of Dr. Pia Honold (now Pia Quaet-Faslem), Siemens Corporation, in using cultural models to predict how German and Chinese consumers gain information about mobile phone usage. This information impacts the design of documentation, online help, etc. Dr. Honold’s presentation shows how the results of her study generally fit the predictions, but offer some surprises, also. We shall also show portions of a case study of developing a phone for Chinese users and a portion of a video study of mobile phone users in four countries.

Lecture 3: Culture and Corporate Website Design (22.5 minutes) We shall examine several major businesses and consumer Websites for multi-national corporations from several countries (USA: McDonald’s, Coke; Korea: Samsung; Germany: Siemens) and discuss the apparent tradeoffs of “universal” vs. localized solution for user-interface components per culture dimensions. Hofstede’s culture model was used to analyze variations in user-interface components of corporate global Website designs for approximately a dozen companies, both B2B and B2C, including Siemens, Peoplesoft, McDonalds, and Coca-Cola. New examples from Web 2.0 and trends will be shown.

Lecture 4: Developing Best-of-Breed Culture Dimensions (22.5 minutes) This lecture discusses a survey of 60 professional analysts of culture and user-interface design, which resulted in a composite set of 19 culture dimensions and the top five that emerged from the study to serve as a practical set for culture analysis of user interfaces.

Lecture 5: Culture and Mobile UI Design (22.5 minutes) This lecture focuses on recent developments of mobile products and services in China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Some current trends are illustrated. Examples show the influence of different cultures on mobile products and services. The differences among Asian countries as well as differences from USA products and services are highlighted. We shall also briefly refer to a video-based ethnographic study of mobile phone users in four different countries.

Lecture 6: Culture and Social Networking Servicdes UI Design (22.5 minutes) This lecture focuses on recent developments of social networking services as Websites/applications/services. Examples in the USA, Europe, Japan, and Korea will be shown. Some current trends are illustrated. Examples show the influence of different cultures on home pages, log-in pages, and registration pages, which are key to customer sign-up and use.

Exercise 1 (30 minutes) Each group in the tutorial will study one of approximately eight cross-cultural textual dialogues and attempt to understand the hidden cultural messages. Then, the participants will examine the explanation of what is happening between two people and report their findings and their misconceptions to the rest of the participants. Discussion will follow depending on the findings. Exercise 2 (45 minutes) Each group in the tutorial will study one of the cultural dimensions and analyze how this dimension might affect fundamental UI components (metaphors, mental models, navigation, interaction, and appearance). They will report to the rest of the participants on their findings. Discussion will follow depending on the findings. Exercise 3 (45 minutes) Each group in the tutorial will be assigned one target culture and design a home screen and one or two other screens that demonstrate awareness of the impact of culture on aspects of functions and data. The Website is intended to be a medical information Website provided by the government for its citizens. Each team will report to the rest of the participants about their intentions and their results. Where possible, comparisons will be made with actual Websites from different countries. Discussion will follow on issues that arise. Optional Parallel Exercise 3 (45 minutes) Each group in the tutorial will be assigned one target culture and design a home screen and one or two other screens that demonstrate awareness of the impact of culture on aspects of functions and data for a mobile device that enables users to view maps for trips. Each team will report to the rest of the participants about their intentions and their results. Discussion will follow on issues that arise.