Context of Use and Use of Context: Localization and UX


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Localization World, London 2013 preso by Ultan O'Broin on gathering user requirements globally and on making a great contextual user experience for all users.

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  • About Ultan O’Broin.
    Safe harbor: These views may not necessarily represent those of Oracle America, Inc. or its affiliates.
  • Great book. Recommended. Innovation and work happening in coffee shops. It’s a good place to do some guerilla UX to understand context.
  • Obama Inauguration Speech (Jon Favreau, 27 year old in Starbucks)
    Cranium board Game (Richard Tait, Starbucks, Seattle) – sold to Hasboro for 77.5m USD
    Moshi Monsters (Michael Acton Smith creator, Caffe Nero Battersea, first drawing, 100 million USD, 75 million products, 150 countries )
    Craigslist (Craig Newmark, Detroit, San Francisco Coffee shops)
    Harry Potter (JK Rowling, Coffee shops in Edinburgh)
    Foursquare (Dennis Crowley, co-founder, CEO – East Village coffee shops, ideas and prototype built)
    Oracle Fusion Applications, Uffizi café – Ultan…
  • Room for CReaM
    BYOD is here. Ever used dropbox? CRM salespeople HATE enterprise apps. Work in cafes, on the go, using what works for them – apps, devices. What UX contextual constraints are there in cafes? I’ve visited cafés worldwide. So what might the context of use be?
    Wifi available?
    Seating, tables
    Opening hours
    Security of location
    Location, company
    And then there’s the Marissa Mayer Barrista approach. Always a tradeoff somewhere.
  • Tell me more about that. What can we tell by Sticky Notes and Excel. Much the same from enterprise users as translators: Context and easy tool to work with. To explore, a usability engineer asks: Tell Me More About That. Sticky Notes are a way of passing context informing metadata designs. Excel is loved in business, especially financials.
  • Lets talk about context of use and what we mean by that. Here’s a definition from the NIST CISU-R. Of course this varies by country and region and by organization too. And be careful about applying the wrong context to the enterprise.
    NIST CISU-R was created to help website developers, usability professionals, and IT implementers to define usability requirements for their projects (and levels of usability testing criteria and methods too). My employer, Oracle contributed to the initiative, along with other companies (Microsoft, Boeing, NIST, etc).
    CISU-R defines context of use shown on this slide. Available from:
  • Beyond Translation of UI

    Intuit’s founder Scott Cook on failed global expansion (Japan, Mexico, South America, EMEA). Sales slowed way down after initial launch. Classic failure through applying US assumptions to Japan for example. Just translated into Japanese, but not built for Japanese users. The root problems he says were “baked in. Too hard to overcome. He says:

    “We didn’t build our products based on a deep study of the countries. We built them based on what we had in the U.S. I kicked myself. We should have known better.” Knew U.S. customer ‘cold’ – hence name “Intuit” – “intuitive”. Stayed away from international markets for years. Now, study local customers, hire locally.

  • Assume nothing. Test and test again. The Context of Use dimension means metaphor persistence and nuances of enterprise use may challenge traditional L10n wisdom. Globalization, the internet, multinational corporations, global workforces mean a thumbs up icon is interpreted in context of work, not the street. Save icons based on disks are accepted too. Other examples include smiley icons for example. Bare footprint might be culturally acceptable, but it’s probably poor UX as a visual for installed space anyway.
  • My company’s research in the wild – mobile users worldwide. Using ethnography 4 different countries – Singapore, India, Sweden, and the U.S. (New York, Chicago, and San Francisco) to study how people use their mobile devices to support their work.

    Top left – India – we take pictures of the environment to see how people are using mobile devices on a daily basis. This was just one shot of many where folks talked on the phone while driving or riding on a motorcycle or tut tut.

    Top Middle – Singapore college students show some of the apps they use on a regular basis.

    Top Right – Stockholm COO takes call during lunch regarding company business plan. Note the usage of the ear bud to take a call, which was very common in Sweden.

    Bottom left – Sales Rep in India uses two phones to do work.

    Middle bottom – two colleagues review work in San Francisco, while one’s son is entertained by the iphone.

    Bottom Right – Singapore sales rep checks information on next appt while in taxi, travel.
  • Stakeholders:
    Refers to end users and other parties who have a legitimate interest in the product throughout its lifecycle. For a financial accounting application, such stakeholders might include the external auditors, taxation authorities, other functional departments in the company, as well as the accountants.
    Internal and external impacts (VW labour unions, Betriebsrats or MGM Grand Hotels)
    Intended user groups:
    Refers to the key characteristics of the main user groups critical to the business or who use the application most often. This aspect usefully covers broad globalization aspects for enterprise applications. Consider what languages the users of applications require, but also what is the language of the business? Are users working in a global company with regional offices or country based subsidiaries. A multinational 24 X 7 operation may use many local languages, or English or French as its business of language. The UI must also be localized to reflect locale formats and information. Consider what information in what format is to be exchanged between parts of globalized operations and other external parties too.
    Critical to business: Language of business vs. language of users, terminology, locale settings. Legal too: Café Starbucks Coffee and Poulet Frit Kentucky
    Goals for groups: Intended outcomes. Constraints of expenses, business requirements
  • Intended computing or technical environment: Covers hardware and application capabilities and features, and the artifacts they create. This area might cover everything from the national broadband provision or local wireless connectivity to availability of particular devices in a country to identifying the locale-based paper printing sizes (US Letter versus A4 in the UK, for example).

    Although we know where the next 10 million apps are coming from (BRIC and MIST), there are other emerging market requirements.
    The BBC World Service has launched applications for Nokia feature phones, not smart phones, providing localized news content for listeners in emerging markets. How to Enter Emerging Markets: Mobile Available from:
    Facebook introduced Facebook Zero, a text based-based basic feature version of its service, in 2010 to cater for mid-range feature phones. In Africa, the number of people using Facebook increased 114 percent in 18 months. Available from:
    Dual Sim phones – Africa context or patchy coverage? Switch SIM!
    South Africa 2 Go app: “Building mobile technology for an African market is tough. Data and SMS are expensive, and our users are price sensitive and savvy. That means we have to deliver an application that uses the absolute minimum of system resources and bandwidth.  Develop proprietary communications protocols and compression algorithms that minimize the app’s data usage.” The African Mobile App That’s Bigger Than Facebook Nigeria [Online] Available from:
    Then there’s the Indian Hike app – domestic considerations for SMS –matches tech with diversity. Converts IP messages to SMS, and notifies users when offline. Source: Enriches diversity around local content, the Bollywood syndrome. Free globally, don’t have a phone or data, no problem. One experience for all.
    How about offline mode?
    And of course: Language support, Text 2 Voice, Avatars too – female for ME? Siri is now male!
  • Social and Physical Work Environments (lighting, temperature, organization aspects, risk management, safety but even, literacy, water quality, caste, language of course)

    For example: Banking or Caregiving or Working with Gloves or Using Phones when Driving

    Intended physical and social environments: Covers physical location (such as remote or office-based work), ergonomic factors such as lighting and temperature, and organizational aspects such as how workers are managed or supervised, health and safety issues, financial or security risks, and so on. All vary by location.

    For example, medical device design was impacted by attitude of the local caregivers, their literacy level, water quality and even climate. “The only solution is to design for the local customer’s ecosystem and the local customer’s feelings.” says HFI’s Apala Lahiri Chavan, explaining how the design for a banking solution in India (with its hierarchical, caste based society) when applied to less stratified African countries led to user alienation. See : Dialysis unit - in US, but relaxed attitudes in Columbia and India – solution with bag – on roof or wrapped in blanket – not exact temperature. Or power went out, or water dirty!
    Local health and safety regulations in some jobs may require use of gloves so think about those pinch feature on mobile. Very secure enterprises or public sector or government agencies may prohibit the carrying or use of personal devices or applications or any integration with cloud or third-party applications. Remember, using mobile phones while driving is against the law in many places, so designing for headset and audio notifications, and so on is required for some mobile solutions.
    Sometimes enforced by law, even in the US where the Occupational Safety and Health Act (1970) requires training to be provided in a language that workers understand.
  • Tasks by environment: Does everyone work the same way globally? Insurance inspectors in UK – Aviva assume presence of building owners
    Training and documentation: Coca Cola gamification on iPads.

    See: and
  • Let’s see what this looks like in practice. We do it all the time. LinkedIN for example. Source of truth pivots by UX.

    I am an avid eBay buyer and I like to buy <ADD YOUR FAVORITE ITEM, “reggae record’s>.

    if I was working with eBay to sell them, I would sit down next to my desktop with a big giant screen and some power loading features to upload, short and long descriptions and image files, and conduct a large number of transactions as quickly as possible.

    Contrast that with sitting on the couch on a weekend morning with a cup of coffee and browsing what kinds of <ITEM, “records”> are now available. I will sift through some of the new ones on my tablet.

    Last, I am running through an airport and I get an alert from eBay with a notice that my bid is ending soon, and I see that I need to buy now or lose the deal.

    All of those things, those tasks, are going to look different, even though it’s the same eBay. They have dramatically different screen real estate and connectivity.

  • How do we scale: Sure I18n of code and translation enablement, but there’s more:
    Tools for users to use to customize, add ons, like localizations
    Personalization (implicit, explicit)
    Multi modal options – varies by region/culture – notifications by visual, audio, etc.
  • L20n is an open source, localization-specific scripting language used to process gender, plurals, conjugations, and most of the other quirky elements of natural language.
    37 Signals say: Context Always Wins Over Consistency: See Getting Real.
    And check out the CLDR (Common Locale Data Repository) ICU (International Components for Unicode) presentation on handling genders, singulars v plural etc called New in International Components for Unicode (ICU) coming up from Google’s Jana Vorechovska and Adobe’s Anubhav Jain. I will be moderating! See:
    More info:

  • Context is not a translation issue per se. We know about Job v Job arguments, but other stakeholders could do with context too.
    Too manual
    Derive context
    Leverage stakeholders for wins.
    “Description” the original place for context in software code, was intended for developers.
  • Inspirations: Jiro Dreams of Sushi (inspired AirBnB) and lessons from Kenya for western financial system (M-Pesa) or a dual sim phone for BYOD or CRM users. Yes, we can learn globally, not just from Silicon Valley!

    Anecdote: Jiro is an octogenarian sushi master who has perfected the art of making sushi at his Michelin three-star restaurant in the Ginza subway in Tokyo. He’s spent decades perfecting simple tasks like selecting, cutting, and preparing the best fish. 

    At AirBnB we’re trying to build a culture that supports details, celebrates them, and gives our teams creative license to pursue them

    Example: When a host is replying to a guest, the email can be repopulated with a message that the host sent to a former guest, but with the name changed for the current guest. The idea is that a host will commonly be emailing the same things to multiple guests, and the auto population can save them significant time. One host was so happy with the time-saver that they sent a gushing email to the team


    And M-Pesa? Safaricom M-Pesa, a mobile money transfer app first used in Kenya, is the most used app in the world, running 200 transactions per second. Remember that Dual SIM phone? Same idea Suits BOYD security concerns. And CRM users!
  • Some sources for you.
  • Context of Use and Use of Context: Localization and UX

    1. 1. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. “Tell Me More About That” Context of Use in UX and Use of Context in L10n Designing Great Enterprise Applications User Experiences for Global Users Ultan O’Broin (@localization) Oracle America, Inc Localization World, London, June 2013
    2. 2. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. About @Ultan • Director, Oracle Applications User Experience • Translation Program Manager • Localization Manager • EMEA, USA • Writer, Blogger • @localization • Views not necessarily those of employer
    3. 3. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Agenda • User Experience (UX) 101 • Context of Use in the Enterprise • Global Users Don’t Work the Same Way • Enabling Sources for Contextual Use • Context for All: Beyond L10n • Resources
    4. 4. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. In the Office This Morning?
    5. 5. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Context 101: Work and Cafés
    6. 6. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Room for CReaM?
    7. 7. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. User Experience versus Usability User Interface The look and feel of an application, including the layout and interaction model. User Experience The complete experience for a user around accomplishing a task, including across traditional applications boundaries.
    8. 8. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. “Tell Me More About That”
    9. 9. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Context of Use • Anything of importance used to complete a task • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Common Industry for Usability Requirements (CISU-R) • “The users, tasks, equipment (hardware, software, and materials), and physical and social environments in which a product is used” [ISO 9241-11:1998] • Enterprise nuances: business rules and requirements, organizational culture, working vs. business languages, multinational distribution, macro trends (BYOD, COIT, globalization, internet), micro flavors • Contextual areas vary by country/region/location too
    10. 10. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Kicking Yourself for Not Knowing Better
    11. 11. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Context and Metaphor
    12. 12. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Ethnography: Research in WWWild
    13. 13. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Contextual of Use Areas • Stakeholders • Intended user groups • Goals for groups
    14. 14. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Context of Use Areas • Computing or technical environment • Translations, i18n, L10n Support
    15. 15. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Context of Use Areas • Cultural, Social and Physical Work Environment
    16. 16. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Context of Use Areas • Tasks by environment • Training and documentation
    17. 17. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. UX Context Pivots through Cloud Sell 500 collectable comic books Browse newly listed comic books Bid at the last second on a comic book
    18. 18. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Today’s Global UX: Contextual • Context Wins Over Consistency (37 Signals) • Personalized • Cloud pivot, optimization • Dumbed down leveraging goals • If Language/Translation is UX, then it must be contextual
    19. 19. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Enterprise Scale for Context
    20. 20. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. L20n and 37 Signals UX • Enabling Context When: “It Depends”
    21. 21. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Context Not a T9N Issue Alone
    22. 22. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. Thinking Outside the Bento Box
    23. 23. Localization World London 2013. Opinions are those of presenter. References • Out of Office • Context for All • Tell Me More About That. Gathering User Requirements and Context of Use for Global Enterprise Applications • Cross-Cultural Factors Should be Considered in Enterprise UX Design • UX Testing and Cultural Preferences • NISTIR 7432 Common Industry Specification for Usability - Requirement • Multilingual Magazine • • What AirBnB Learned from Jiro Dreams of Sushi
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