Cultural Issues that canAffect Interface Design Dr. Blessing F. Adeoye University of Lagos Nigeria Presented at Robert Morris University, PA. USA Feb, 2013
Cultural Issues that can Affect Interface Design As the use of ICT, digital devices, LMS, & other educational technology rise, the concerns of users, esp. people of difference culture continue to rise (del Galdo & Nielsen, 1996). Why? Cultural differences in perceptions of technology, names and usage of technological terms, and the level of technological literacy across various cultures.
User-interface components Metaphors: Essential concepts in words, images, sounds, touch Mental Models: Organization of data, functions, tasks, roles, or people at work or play, static or mobile Navigation: Movement through mental models via windows, dialogue boxes, buttons, links, etc. Interaction: Input/output techniques, feedback Appearance: Visual, verbal, acoustic, tactile
Observations In a global economy, should every Website look the same? Are mobile devices and services in Asia right for the rest of the world? Which Website for Saudi Arabia is Appropriate? Is African Continent a forgotten world? Usability and user experience differ among cultures
Facts Directional placement of images, icons, graphics, color, and white space are frequently used in textual communication. Depending on the context, non-verbal communication can account for up to 90% of communication, conveyed through images, symbols, and icons (Hall & Hall, 1990).
Communication Features For applications, such as web board, discussion forums, email, chat rooms, some cultures have higher expectation to communicate, which may impose burdens on other users (Boriarsky, 1995; del Galdo, 1996). Many Chinese Internet users have higher expectation than American counterparts in the amount of things to communicate.
Communication Features Because of their cultural orientations, individual students may only speak up during a discussion when called upon personally by the teacher; some will not speak up in large groups (Hofstede, 1986). In the case of online communication, individual users may not become involved until they are either prompted or signaled to do so (Boriarsky, 1995).
Visual elements Do not generally transfer across cultures Navigational images/text groupings intended to indicate the directional flow of information for users in Western culture may confuse non-Western users. Asian users-whose written languages traditionally appear vertically and read from right to left-may find it difficult to have a directional arrow placed at the bottom right of the page and the arrow pointing right for the next page. People in Eastern cultures may not recognize placing “important information” in the top left-hand section of a page.
Colours and symbols Mitchell Harper claims that the five most used colour combinations on the web are: - red, yellow and white - blue and white - red, gray and white - blue, orange and white - yellow, gray and whiteIf you are aiming at global audiences it is worth remembering that colours have significant associations.
Colours White in many Asian cultures is associated with death, vs. black in many European cultures. Green and saffron yellow have particular associations in Islam and among Buddhist demographics.
In Australia, the UK, Canada and UScolours have multiple connotations, e.g. orange - harvest, autumn, creativity, cheap products purple - luxury, royalty red - power, energy, danger blue - solidity, conservatism, competence green - environmentalism, spring, safety yellow - hope, hazard, cowardice, happiness pink - vibrancy, energy, radicalism, cheapness
Color for Visually Challenged Individual Much of the literature about colour on the web assumes that all users are young and visually unimpaired. Research on aging suggests restraint in use of blue, green and violet to provide information, as yellowing of the cornea can cause confusion between some shades of those colours. Some suggest that display of red text on a green background (or green on red) should be avoided, given problems experienced by people with colour impairment). Others note that in practice those colours can be used, provided saturation levels are sufficiently different to allow differentiation.
Navigation Design principles regarding navigation have a cross-cultural application. It is worth noting, however, that there are differences in how people from different cultures read a page. Many read: from left to right, top to bottom. right to left. from bottom to top.
Navigation For the people from the Middle East, information should support both text directionalities. Also, the ideographic witting systems used by Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans recognize vertical text directionality, but mathematical expressions are generally written horizontally.
Recommendations Plan: Include global issues in all steps Research: Investigate global sets of users, issues Analyze: Determine global criteria, targets Design: Visualize global alternatives Implement: Use tools that facilitate global variations Evaluate: Test prototypes with global user sets Document: Include global guidelines, specs
Hofstede’s 5 Dimensions ofCulture 1. Power-distance 2. Collectivism vs. individualism 3. Femininity vs. masculinity 4. Uncertainty avoidance 5. Long- vs. short-term time orientation
Culture vs. UI : Power Distance, 1/2 Metaphors High: Institutions, buildings with clear hierarchy: schools, government, monuments, etc. Low: Institutions, buildings with equality, options: Summerhill, play/games, public spaces, etc. Mental Models High: Reference data with no relevancy ranking Low: Less structured data with relevancy Navigation High: Restricted access, choices; authentication; passwords Low: Open access, multiple options, sharable paths
Culture vs. UI: Power Distance, 2/2 Interaction High: Severe error messages: “Entry Forbidden,” “You are wrong;” wizards or guides lead usage Low: Supportive error messages, cue cards Appearance High: Images of leaders, nations; official music, anthems; formal speech Low: Images of people, daily activities; popular music; informal speech
Culture vs. UI: Individualism vs. Collectivism, 1/2 Metaphors Individualist: Action-oriented, tools Collectivist: Relationship-oriented Mental Models Individualist: Product- or task-oriented Collectivist: Role-oriented Navigation Individualist: Individual paths; popular choices, celebrity choices; stable across roles; customizable Collectivist: Group-oriented, official choices; changes per role
Culture vs. UI: Individualism vs. Collectivism, 2/2 Interaction Individualist: Keyword searches; active-oriented; multiple devices; customizable; Collectivist: Limited, official devices; role driven Appearance Individualist: Images of products, people; low context; hyperbolic, dynamic speech; market-driven topics, imagery, language; customizable; direct, active verbs Collectivist: Images of groups, organizations; images of roles; high context; official, static terminology; institution-driven topics, imagery, language; passive verbs
References Global Graphics: Color (Gloucester: Rockport 2000) by Cheryl Cullen and Global Graphics: Symbols (Gloucester: Rockport 2000) by Jared Brown & Anistatia Miller. Henry Dreyfuss Symbol Sourcebook: An Authoritative Guide to International Graphic Symbols (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold 1984). William Hortons The Icon Book: Visual Symbols for Computer Systems & Documentation (New York: Wiley 1994) is more directly relevant. Hofstede, Cultures and Organizations, 1991, 97 Trompenaars, Riding the Waves of Culture, 1998 Marcus, "Internat. and Intercult. User Interfaces," in Stephanidis, ed.,, User Interfaces for All, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000. Marcus and Gould, "Cultural Dimensions and Global Web UI Design," Interactions, Vol. 7, No. 4, July/August 2000, pp. 32-46.