Cultural sensitivity

7 Sep 2004 - 1:08am
10 years ago
8 replies
1558 reads
ji kim
2004

While doing a research for mobile phones, I cam across "fashion mobile phones" from
a company called Xelibri (http://www.xelibri.com). They were nice looking phones, until I heard one of the ringtone called "tokyo" from one their phones. Let's just say, ringtone played a melody that western media used to (and still does) depict people from east asian region (china, korea, japan,etc.). Most asians would consider it very racist (or very ignorant). I couldn't believe corporation big as Xelibri could release a product with a feature that could ruin their branding and sales ultimately.

Unfortunately, Xelibri is not alone. I've seen many softwares and products developed in United States that does not pay enough attention to cultural sensitivity in their user interface. Sometimes we (designers working here in U.S.) forget that lot of the software revenue comes from other non-english speaking countries. Then, how can we treat our customers so badly?

I wonder how many of us in the interaction design field take into consideration about designing for "international audience"?? Or is this something beyond our control??

-ji

P.S.
According to statistics, most U.S. students (from grade school to college) are not required to learn any foreign language, thus most cannot speak other languages and don't really know about other cultures. Can this be the cause???

Comments

7 Sep 2004 - 1:47am
hilhorst
2004

> I wonder how many of us in the interaction design field take into
> consideration about designing for "international audience"? Or is this
> something beyond our control?

Publications (alphabetically listed):
-------------------------------------

Bourges-Waldegg, P. (1998). "Meaning, the central issue in
cross-cultural HCI design". Interacting with Computers, (9)3, 287-309.

Carey, J.M. (1998). "Creating global software: a conspectus and review".
Interacting with Computers (9), 449-465.

Dray, S. (1996). "Designing for the rest of the world: a consultant's
observation". Interactions, v.3 n.2, p.15-18.

Dunckley, L., et al. (2000). "Cultural Dichotomies in User Evaluation of
International Software". Designing for Global Markets 2, IWIPS'00,
Baltimore, MD, Backhouse Press.

Fernandes, T. (1995). "Global interface design: A guide to designing
international user interfaces". Boston, MA: Academic Press Professional.

Hofstede, G. (1991). "Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind".
London: McGraw-Hill.

Hoft, N. (1996) "Developing a cultural model [International users
interface]", John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY.

Honold, P. (2000). "Culture and Context: An Empirical Study for the
development of a Framework for the Elicitation of Cultural Influence in
Product Usage". International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
12(354), 327 - 345.

Marcus, A. (2001). "Cross-Cultural User-Interface Design for Work, Home,
and On the Way".
http://www.upassoc.org/conf2001/reg/program/tutorials/t5.html.

Marcus, A. (2002). "Mapping user-interface design to cultural
dimensions". Based on a paper prepared for a CHI 2002 Workshop and a
paper prepared for Advanced Visual Interfaces, 2002.

Muller, M.J., et al. (1997). "Toward an HCI research and practice agenda
based on human needs and social responsibility". In Proceedings of CHI
97. Atlanta GA USA: ACM.

Russo, P., et al. (1993). "How Fluent is your Interface? Designing for
International Users". Proc INTERCHI'93 Conference on Human Factors in
Computing Systems: INTERACT'93 and CHI'93. ACM Press, 342-347.

Cheers,

Didier.

7 Sep 2004 - 2:31am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Sep 7, 2004, at 12:08 AM, ji kim wrote:

> I wonder how many of us in the interaction design field take into
> consideration about designing for "international audience"?? Or is
> this something beyond our control??

More often than not it seems to be a time and resource thing. Most
companies just won't budget either time or the money for the right
people to do it, so good I18N work gets lost in the cracks. Most
companies currently don't budget for proper UI design work either, but
that's finally changing. For InDesign, a small set of resources (both
engineering and UI design) were allocated to create a Japanese version
that took into account Japanese design methods. That version took some
three years to get out the door from the time the right people were
hired to do it. From my understanding, InDesign is gaining large ground
over other software in Japan due to the work done to make the product
think in Japanese.

> P.S. According to statistics, most U.S. students (from grade school to
> college) are not required to learn any foreign language, thus most
> cannot speak other languages and don't really know about other
> cultures. Can this be the cause???

If not the cause, it's a large factor, imho. Also, our news and
information sources are heavily biased towards U.S. specific
information only. A sad state of affairs, really.

Andrei

7 Sep 2004 - 3:02am
Kristoffer Åberg
2003

ji kim wrote:

>While doing a research for mobile phones, I cam across "fashion mobile phones" from
>a company called Xelibri (http://www.xelibri.com). They were nice looking phones, until I heard one of the ringtone called "tokyo" from one their phones. Let's just say, ringtone played a melody that western media used to (and still does) depict people from east asian region (china, korea, japan,etc.). Most asians would consider it very racist (or very ignorant). I couldn't believe corporation big as Xelibri could release a product with a feature that could ruin their branding and sales ultimately.
>
>
: It might be interesting to note that Xelibri is a brand of mobile
phone manufacturer Siemens, otherwise commendably active in the field of
cultural influence on user interfaces, see e.g. Pia Honold's paper in
the publications list supplied in Didier's post to this thread. Several
of the major mobile phone manufacturers do conduct work in this area but
it is indeed a challenge considering the global or regional presence of
a particular product vs. the cultural diversity on a global or regional
basis.

>Unfortunately, Xelibri is not alone. I've seen many softwares and products developed in United States that does not pay enough attention to cultural sensitivity in their user interface. Sometimes we (designers working here in U.S.) forget that lot of the software revenue comes from other non-english speaking countries. Then, how can we treat our customers so badly?
>
>I wonder how many of us in the interaction design field take into consideration about designing for "international audience"?? Or is this something beyond our control??
>
>
: It should not be beyond our control per se, being a corollary to the
"know thy user" mantra. As Didier demonstrated there is a lively
community dealing with this area, not the least represented by the IWIPS
series of workshops, http://www.iwips.org/. It probably amounts to
convincing the right people to set an appropriate budget for this kind
of work, or else some competitor will; a familiar problem...

/Kristoffer

7 Sep 2004 - 3:16am
Peter Boersma
2003

ji kim wrote:
> [..] I couldn't believe
> corporation big as Xelibri could release a product with a feature
> that could ruin their branding and sales ultimately.

Maybe that's why Siemens announced they would stop this enterprise...
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/corporatenews/view/86542/1/.html

Peter
--
Peter Boersma - Senior Information Architect - EzGov
Rijnsburgstraat 11 - 1059AT Amsterdam - The Netherlands
t: +31(0)20 7133881 - f: +31(0)20 7133799 - m: +31(0)6 15072747
mailto:peter.boersma at ezgov.com - http://www.ezgov.com

7 Sep 2004 - 8:20am
Gerard Torenvliet
2004

One more recent book:

Aykin, N. (Ed.) (2005). Usability and Internationalization of Information Technology. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Just came across my desk a few weeks ago, but seems to be a good collection of essays introducing the topic of internationalization.

-Gerard

:: Gerard Torenvliet / gerard.torenvliet at cmcelectronics.ca
:: Human Factors Engineering Design Specialist
:: CMC Electronics Inc.
::
:: Ph - 613 592 7400 x 2613
:: Fx - 613 592 7432
::
:: 415 Legget Drive, P.O. Box 13330
:: Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA, K2K 2B2
:: http://www.cmcelectronics.ca

-----Original Message-----
From: Didier Hilhorst [mailto:d.hilhorst at nundroo.com]
Sent: September 7, 2004 3:48 AM
To: 'ji kim';
discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Cultural sensitivity

[For those using lower bandwidth, or the DIGEST version of this list; the administrators ask people to voluntarily trim their postings to only include relevant quoted material.]

> I wonder how many of us in the interaction design field take into
> consideration about designing for "international audience"? Or is this
> something beyond our control?

Publications (alphabetically listed):
-------------------------------------

Bourges-Waldegg, P. (1998). "Meaning, the central issue in
cross-cultural HCI design". Interacting with Computers, (9)3, 287-309.

Carey, J.M. (1998). "Creating global software: a conspectus and review".
Interacting with Computers (9), 449-465.

Dray, S. (1996). "Designing for the rest of the world: a consultant's
observation". Interactions, v.3 n.2, p.15-18.

Dunckley, L., et al. (2000). "Cultural Dichotomies in User Evaluation of
International Software". Designing for Global Markets 2, IWIPS'00,
Baltimore, MD, Backhouse Press.

Fernandes, T. (1995). "Global interface design: A guide to designing
international user interfaces". Boston, MA: Academic Press Professional.

Hofstede, G. (1991). "Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind".
London: McGraw-Hill.

Hoft, N. (1996) "Developing a cultural model [International users
interface]", John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY.

Honold, P. (2000). "Culture and Context: An Empirical Study for the
development of a Framework for the Elicitation of Cultural Influence in
Product Usage". International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
12(354), 327 - 345.

Marcus, A. (2001). "Cross-Cultural User-Interface Design for Work, Home,
and On the Way".
http://www.upassoc.org/conf2001/reg/program/tutorials/t5.html.

Marcus, A. (2002). "Mapping user-interface design to cultural
dimensions". Based on a paper prepared for a CHI 2002 Workshop and a
paper prepared for Advanced Visual Interfaces, 2002.

Muller, M.J., et al. (1997). "Toward an HCI research and practice agenda
based on human needs and social responsibility". In Proceedings of CHI
97. Atlanta GA USA: ACM.

Russo, P., et al. (1993). "How Fluent is your Interface? Designing for
International Users". Proc INTERCHI'93 Conference on Human Factors in
Computing Systems: INTERACT'93 and CHI'93. ACM Press, 342-347.

Cheers,

Didier.

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7 Sep 2004 - 9:59am
Martyn Jones BSc
2004

The first project I worked on here, was to build Discovery Channel's
website. It was to cater for their European and Asia markets, and as such
had to be localised for 10 European languages and 3/4 Asian languages.

Fortunately this requirement was specified at the beginning of the project.
We couldn't pretend to possess expert knowledge of all these cultures, so
almost half of the budget went to Bowne Global Solutions. Seemed overkill
at the time, but they proved an invaluable resource.

Many of the projects I am involved with are bilingual (Welsh & English) and
although the cultures are very similar, the experience has proved very
useful in learning to separate design from content.

The problem we're (our company) facing now is that clients are getting wise
to the power of database driven applications, and the ease with which they
can change content. We are receiving requests to reproduce multi-lingual
versions of previous work, but this generally entails a slight tweak to the
supporting database and a literal translation of the content. Many clients
aren't interested in a full localisation service - but then again, these are
the same clients that's can't justify an X% increase in budget to address
accessibility.

I guess weight given to IxD, Localisation, Accessibility etc will increase
as their Return On Investments(ROIs) are demonstrated. To this end, I'll
soon be involved in a IxD / New Media / Digital Entertainment /
Call-it-what-you-want round table event - with a twist. This meeting
normally pulls together competing developers to talk about the industry, how
they can better themselves etc. Future meetings will take on a new slant -
as half of the attendees will be representatives of previous clients.
Hopefully, a few talks from clients that have measured (and can demonstrate)
a significant ROI, will encourage to others to loosen their purse strings.

Martyn

Note, the current version (http://www.discoveryeurope.com/) is not our work.

7 Sep 2004 - 11:12am
Mitja Kostomaj
2004

Ji Kim wrote
>> I wonder how many of us in the interaction design field take into
>> consideration about designing for "international audience"?? Or is
>> this something beyond our control??

Andrei wrote
AH> More often than not it seems to be a time and resource thing. Most
AH> companies just won't budget either time or the money for the right
AH> people to do it, so good I18N work gets lost in the cracks.

>> P.S. According to statistics, most U.S. students (from grade school to
>> college) are not required to learn any foreign language, thus most
>> cannot speak other languages and don't really know about other
>> cultures. Can this be the cause???

Kim I think that its the problem of ignorance and Andrei might be also
right that they don't have the right people.

I am sorry, because I'll be a bit long, but I see this issue quite
complex.

I come from Slovenia and some years ago I've been working for
Microsoft as Software Localizer engineer in Dublin. Recently I've been
back in localization business and I must admit that other industries
(e.g. advertisement) have better approach to cultural issues.

Software is never translated beyond the interface text. Content might
be translated (but not culturally adapted) but metaphors, icons,
images are never translated or localized (whatever terms one prefer).

Ji Kim what happened in the case of www.xelibri.com might be the
problem with the localization business it self. This works like that
1. The company responsible for localization gets text database.
2. Their responsibilities are to deliver completed translated database
of text strings back to the software engineer,
3. Software engineer compiles translated text in the final version of
software (ei on Mobile phone).

It often happens that the company responsible for localization
(translation) might never heard the music or even seen the phone and
how it works, or the localizer didn't have the responsibility to act.

My experience is that other industries deal with the problem of
cultural issues better.

Good example is advertisement and film industry.

Few years ago, when I was in Ireland, I went to see movie called Ice
Storm (directed by Ang Lee). The poster and all visual advertisement
for the movie showed images of "Ice Storm" as it known to Irish people
(no snow at all, just mist, fog, rain etc. - probably made by local
advertisement company).

Later that year I went to cinema in Paris, France and I've almost gone
to see the same movie again, because the poster was completely
different. It showed images of "Ice storm" as people from Alp
region recognize it (a lot of snow, frozen windows, cold etc.).

In some cases web pages from multinationals (e.g. Renault) are made by
local agencies and are not simply translated from original web page.

Software localization (and also Mobile phones) never goes that far.
There are icons, metaphors, workflow, tasks, interactions and
communication, which are or could be completely cultural depended, but
software does not recognize that.

I would really like to hear from the group if anyone has ever seen
software metaphor (or something similar) translated-localized into
another language or culture?

Best regards
Mitja Kostomaj

7 Sep 2004 - 11:58am
vutpakdi
2003

--- Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at designbyfire.com> wrote:
> On Sep 7, 2004, at 12:08 AM, ji kim wrote:
>
> > I wonder how many of us in the interaction design field take into
> > consideration about designing for "international audience"?? Or is
> > this something beyond our control??
>
> More often than not it seems to be a time and resource thing. Most
> companies just won't budget either time or the money for the right
> people to do it, so good I18N work gets lost in the cracks.

Somtimes, it isn't even that. I've worked at 3 vertical market companies
where it never occurred to anyone that US Letter *isn't* the world standard
for paper until I pointed this fact out for a least "my" projects. Just a
very much US centric development process. :-P

Of course, at two of the companies the thought about what the user does
with the results of hours of analysis (ie, reports, exporting data,
exporting graphics) was also an afterthought, so maybe that isn't saying
much.

Ron

=====
============================================================================
Ron Vutpakdi
vutpakdi at acm.org

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