Sunday, November 25, 2018

36. PROCESS BOOK // Week 9

1. Favorite Quotes

"Corporate culture brings assumptions. For example, a company can be focused on sales or research or technology. Working as a research scientist at Nokia, Rachel Hinman had to take the company culture into account as she planned her research, and address its underlying assumptions.(W. Quesenbery, "Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World", Chapter 5)

Each company has its own culture, which surely has an effect on how business is being conducted day-to-day and what expectations there are for new employees. Companies often select candidates based on whether they  would fit in well within their corporate culture, so this makes sense. Some are looking for sharp-minded engineer thinkers, some are looking for risk-taking go-getters to satisfy the company's exploratory ambitions, but some want to to stay small, so they are looking for somebody humble. It's important to study a company's corporate culture before starting a project, especially if you are coming from a different company or foreign culture. 

"Sometimes the market decides your strategy for you. (W. Quesenbery, "Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World", Chapter 5) 

That's the whole idea of Agile Development - you adjust to the fluctuations of the market and user needs. If users find a different use for your product or their needs change, so should your product - it's important to be flexible to succeed.

"One thing that seems to help is cross-functional teams, with people from the technology, business, and design sides all working closely together. Often, these teams are also cross-cultural, bringing together people from different locations to work on a product. Despite the challenge of managing a global team, the added diversity in both the culture and skills disciplines is an advantage." (W. Quesenbery, "Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World", Chapter 5) 

That's true that diversity in skills often means diversity in backgrounds/viewpoints. The richness of opinions challenges and at the same time moves a project in a direction that's non-conventional. 

"Working at a distance means you have to be more aware of including everyone. When UX is separate from the main product team it can be especially difficult, because not being colocated can mean getting left out of conversations." (W. Quesenbery, "Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World", Chapter 6) 

I believe working together physically in one location is ideal, but today there are so many online tools that can make global collaboration possible that there's no excuse for people not to do it. 

"Being able to meet the people you are working with just changes the tone of the whole relationship because you understand who you are working with. This travel can pay off in future working relationships." (W. Quesenbery, "Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World", Chapter 6) 

I agree that nothing can replace traveling and being immersed in the business environment/culture of a foreign country. 

"Cross-cultural communication demands an extra level of awareness. There are all the little adaptations to develop a communication style, all the small details of business etiquette and differences across cultures." (W. Quesenbery, "Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World", Chapter 6) 

Communication styles and etiquette do differ culture to culture, so even from a business perspective, if you want to establish trust and build a strong relationship, it's important to do "the homework" in advance and learn about the culture first. That will just make it easier for everybody on the team to connect and trust each other. 

"Roughly two-thirds of consumers feel businesses are as responsible as government for driving positive change, and they believe companies can both increase profits and improve conditions in the communities where they operate...When faculty and students assign worthiness to work solely on the basis of obvious message content or self-declared client or designer intent, they not only overlook the daunting systems-level complexity underlying social and environmental problems, but also ignore the potential in every design project to “do good.” (M. Davis, "Core Values Matter") 

I wonder if this customer expectation from brands is a new trend. Comparing the American and Russian market trends, it seems that it's only arising in Russia, which could be the effect of globalization or the innate human desire to drive progress. 

2. Notes

"Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World", Chapter 5: Global Companies and Global Strategy

Organizations have cultures too, and it's hard to identify them from within, but they do affect decision-making/strategy. Creating global products starts with creating product concepts and their market strategies. 

4 Global Product Strategies

  • The global market changes fast, so your product should be planned with global markets in mind. You have to build the flexibility into the product from the very beginning
  • In global teams, the headquarter typically has more control than regional offices, no matter if the product is being designed for local markets or not. But control also depend on the individual employee's role within the regional office - the higher up he/she is, the more say he/she gets. 
  • Having a diverse, cross-functional team is always an advantage.

  • Pros: gives equal rights and opportunities to all UX specialists across the globe, brings creative ideas to a corporate culture via bringing diversity
  • Cons: distance may lead to the disconnect between an outsourced specialist and the client/user
Advice for Outsourcing in UX
  • Travel and blending of staff
Managing Global UX Teams
  • Bridge organizational, cultural, and technical boundaries; make team more collaborative
  • Make sure UX includes strong global perspectives; respond to help requests from foreign locations
  • Manage corporate politics; participate in work outside UX

"Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World", Chapter 6: Effective Global Teams

  • Many companies have one central UX team (located either at the HQ or biggest market) who works with regional partners and outside companies on research and design 
  • Some are organized into offices (placed strategically in largest markets) by function (e.g., developers in China and India; UX in USA and Asia).
  • If meeting in person is impossible, phone calls or video chats are more effective than email
  • Time zones and accents may vary and create additional challenges. 
  • Getting physically together is important at key points of any project (kickoff, milestones, etc.)
  • Diversity is the top advantage of global teams
  • Global teams require extra cultural awareness (etiquette, communication style)
  • Building all-inclusive relationships, where everybody is heard, is important 
  • Some individuals can act as a cultural bridge between different cultural groups, smoothing out communication
  • Building UX and cross-cultural knowledge is also important: keeping everybody updated about UX techniques and general knowledge about users, markets, and cultures via local and global communities. 

Meredith Davis, "Core Values Matter"

  • People connect emotionally with companies' stories that are representative of these companies' internal ethos, and show loyalty when these values stay ethical and humanistic overtime. Progressive companies constantly reorganize to make sure these corporate values reflect that. 
  • Social media drive communication and feedback between users and companies, in the form of likes, diskiles, and advocacy. 
  • Quality, reliability, transparency, honesty, authenticity - most important values for companies to have, as expressed by users
  • Users are becoming more aware and concerned with environmental and social impact of the products they use - most believe that businesses are responsible for driving positive change 
  • Designers thus have to make sure to design for "better good" via social innovation design, that goes beyond the look/feel and product messaging 
  • Social innovation can be top-down (recognize a social problem and find the solution) or bottom-up (discover the power of cooperation and redesign existing products, services, skills, and knowledge)
  • Transition design is a design-led societal transition towards more sustainable features
  • Value-driven businesses produce more productive and loyal employees, more loyal customers, and are thus more prepared to sustain any crisis internally and externally, because of strong bonding
  • Designing for social change  and equity starts with inclusivity (diversity) within the very field of design 
  • Examples of value-driven companies: Everlane, Patagonia

3. Exercises

The danger of a single story

My single story: 
Being completely unfamiliar with the Asian culture at the time when I came to America for the first time and saw so many Asians, I assumed that first of all, all people of Asian descent were foreigners, and that those who studied at the university were children of rich Chinese factory owners and businessmen. That was partially influenced by the stories I heard from my college friends and observations I made about these Chinese students shopping in luxury brand stores and driving luxury cars. That's the impression I got about all Chinese living in America. But as I got immersed more and more into the daily life outside the university, talked to some of these students, and observed Chinese people working middle-class jobs, my single-story understanding of the Chinese people has expanded. Just like in any other culture, there is a socio-economic divide, and even though those students studying in universities may represent the richer (foreign) groups of Chinese, it certainly is not applicable to the entire population living in China or the Chinese population living in America. 

To expand your viewpoint, it's important to consider multiple "sources", which may manifest in: 

  • Immersing yourself into the local culture
  • Taking a class on cultures or a foreign language course
  • Reading books/literature
  • Meeting new people, being humble 
  • Changing your environments, expanding your interests

4. Inspirations + Explorations

The "Core Values Matter" article was very inspirational. It definitely reflects the current moods and customer expectations for brands. Large companies who spend a lot of money on user research, tend to find these kind of insights about values and bring them to life through their brands. As I thought about that more, I realized how many resources these large corporations have that they can put into doing good for the world. 

Doing some additional research on core values, I found this great resource for trend watching. This specific page is very relevant to the core values article. It proposes the idea of "big brand redemption" and summarizes key points in a very nice format. Its core argument is that big corporations are the problem to begin with: they are exploiting natural resources and inhumane work labor, they cause pollution and push unhealthy diets and lifestyles into markets. At the same time, they have huge financial reserves, human capital, worldwide reach, and most importantly - an ethical obligation - to do public good. The idea of brand redemption encompasses redeeming their guilt and "changing consumer mindsets and shifting social and economic realities". The site offers a few brand examples: Volvo, CVS, Unilever, JPMorgan Chase and their attempts to solve world's problems of smoking, deathly car accidents, child death, and neglected communities. These are great at showing how a brand's forces can be directed into making the world a safer, healthier, and nicer place to live. 

Reading through the article and the big brand redemption proposition, I felt very inspired. I tend to focus so much on the details of my work that I often lose sight of the bigger picture - the mission. If I can help make somebody's life at least a tiny bit better, that means I'm doing something right and that gives me the motivation to continue. I think it's important for everybody to keep the big, nonmaterial goals in mind. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

35. PROCESS BOOK // Week 8

1. Favorite Quotes

"The constraints of developing countries usually force technological breakthroughs that help innovations crack global markets. The new products become platforms on which companies can add features and capabilities that will delight many tiers of consumers across the world.(A. Winter, "Engineering Reverse Innovations")

I agree with this statement because it's true that having more constraints (as in thinking about non-ideal locations and other physical disturbances) can make designers re-think the solution from scratch to address them, and that can open up opportunities (assuming the product gains success in the local market) on the global arena, since the likelihood of such issues is high in other emerging markets and may even be relevant for first-world countries with local adaptations. 

"Levitt (1983) suggested that the world has become a global market place, or a ‘global village’, where each and every consumer shares similar values, lifestyles and desires for product quality and modernity...Globalization advocates, such as Plocher and Honold (2000), have taken this to their advantage and presented the case for ‘globally-oriented-mass-produced goods’ believing that the homogeneity of global culture, the similarity of thinking and the cost increase in accommodating design nuances of foreign cultures into products would be good reasons for encouraging such ‘global’ products worldwide."  (P. Sathikh and Kumar, "Transitive Culture: How Global Product Design is Changing User Behavior")

I picked this quote because I agree and disagree with it. I agree that there are certain universal truths, needs, and values (such as family, entertainment, comfort) across global markets, but at the same time there are so many individual cultural variations that require adaptation that it's simply wrong to try to forcefully homogenize the world by universal design, as the following quote says, "These global products are produced on the simple idea that it is necessary to ‘homogenize and converge consumers’ needs and tastes in order to create an infrastructure for unified marketing and for the selling of standardized products (Razzaghi, et al 2005)." 

"The concept of emerging markets is usually too general to design a product around, sometimes even if the target market is just one country." (A. Chavan, "The Washing Machine that Ate My Sari - Mistakes in Cross-Cultural Design")

Emerging markets are everywhere. In fact, they are spread across continents - Asia, Africa,  South America, and considering their cultural and historical differences, they can never be merged into a single pile as a "target market". And just like this quote points out, even one country might be too broad to design for - you really need to know your local demographic, as regions/tribes/nations do differ even within a single country. Take Russia - it's a huge developing (Second World) country with over 160 nationalities, each of which has its own customs, languages, religions, and culture. 

"Standard economic measurements like expected growth rate are certainly useful in evaluating an emerging market, but the history of emerging market design is littered with the wrecks of product launches that foundered on subtle nuances like speech protocols or the ways dining implements are used " (A. Chavan, "The Washing Machine that Ate My Sari - Mistakes in Cross-Cultural Design")

I think evaluating case studies within the emerging market space you are entering is particularly helpful as you can learn on somebody else's mistakes instead of making your own. Case studies, news, anecdotes from people who had conducted research or designed in that market previously - any of these would help in preparation.

"The story of how Guard came to be illustrates the balance companies must strike when creating products for emerging markets: It's not as simple as slapping a foreign label on an American product." ("How Gillette execs spent a fortune developing a razor for India using MIT student focus groups...without considering the country's lack of running water")

This speaks to the importance of being immersed in the environment and getting firsthand experience with the local users. Without being present, it's very easy to "assume" and start "slapping labels on", especially coming from the dominant culture. 

2. Notes

Reverse innovation is the design products and services in developing economies and, after adding some global tweaks, exporting them to developed countries (A. Winter, "Engineering Reverse Innovations")

  • failure of existing reverse innovation projects stems from a failure to grasp the unique economic, social, and technical contexts of emerging markets
  • this failure is avoidable if you adhere to certain design principles
  • success comes when engineering creatively intersects with strategy
  • do not minimize the upfront risks - don't downplay the importance of reducing the product's cost and improving its performance. In emerging markets, your product must match or beat the performance of competitor products at a lower cost (100% of the performance at 10% of the price)

Five traps to avoid when reverse innovating

1. Adapting existing Western products to the local market instead of designing new ones from scratch

  • Design principle: Define the problem independent of solutions. E.g., when the MIT team analyzed the wheelchair market, it found that of 40 million people with disabilities who didn’t have wheelchairs, 70% lived in rural areas, where regular wheelchairs wouldn't work, so they designed new minds with that in mind. The team designed design requirements for the local market: a price of $250, 3 mile travel range/day, indoor usability and maneuverability, and easy, low-cost maintenance/local repair.

2. Trying to reduce the price by eliminating features

  • Design principle: Create an optimal solution, not a watered-down one, using the design freedoms available in emerging markets.
3. Forgetting to think through all the local technical requirements
  • Design principle: Analyze the technical landscape behind consumer problem
4. Neglecting stakeholders
  • Design principle: Test products with as many stakeholders as possible
5. Disbelief in the global appeal of the products designed for emerging markets
  • Design principle: Use emerging market's design constraints to create global winners

Transitive Culture

  • World's culture is being transformed due to globalization
"Transitive culture is behavior as it is being cultivated, or cultured, that connects the accumulated experience of the past with the present way of life influenced by artifacts and products of the technology era, which is being socially learnt and transmitted" (P. Sathikh and Kumar, "Transitive Culture: How Global Product Design is Changing User Behavior")
  • Global products share the same features across all world's markets. "These global products are produced on the simple idea that it is necessary to ‘homogenize and converge consumers’ needs and tastes in order to create an infrastructure for unified marketing and for the selling of standardized products (Razzaghi, et al 2005)."
  • The emotional and cultural importance behind buying decisions is often overlooked in this process
  • Globalization (forcing universal product features) results in cultural neglect
  • Global design often means finding a common denominator that enhances global validity of products 
  • One of the first signs of transitive culture came with global mobile phone penetration, which since then has found various local manifestations (news/prayers deliver over sms and new movie releases through mobile phone access in India, cell phone novels in Japan, etc.)

Case Studies

Whirlpool Case Study (A. Chavan, "The Washing Machine that Ate My Sari - Mistakes in Cross-Cultural Design")

When designing for an emerging market, the following segmentation will help establish who the target group is:

  • Designing for the other 90percent
  • Design for the bottom of the pyramid
  • Design for sustainable development
  • Innovation for emergingmarkets
  • Design for social change
  • Design for global development
  • Design for emerging markets
  • (DEM)
When designing for an emerging market, do not assume that users' needs and expectations are the same as in your own environment. "Kellogg made the error of transposing developed-market experience onto an emerging market, assuming that people in Bangalore started their day in the same way as people in Battle Creek, Michigan" and ate something cold (cereal with cold milk) for breakfast. Kellogg then pulled the cornflakes that would dissolve in warm milk from stores and reengineered them to stand up to warm milk. 

Whirlpool's the "World Washer" (globally designed washing machine) failed in India because traditional Indian garments, Sari, were thin and got caught and torn in the space between the machine's agitator and drum. 

Emerging markets need solutions at affordable price points, since the overall living standard is much lower as in the West, even though there is a local gap between the poor and the rich (in local terms). "Streamlining or eliminating complex features, without reducing core quality, results in a more attractive and affordable product."

Bollywood Method of research can be used in India: " “emotion tickets” are categorized into the nine rasas, each one expressed in a booklet through images and dialogue from Bollywood films. When interacting with products, customers record their feelings using the appropriate emotion ticket." This method helps put the participants at ease and simplifies the feedback process. 

Pampers Case Study (M. Frazier, "How P&G Brought the Diaper Revolution to China")

Disposable diapers weren't the norm in China (cloth diapers were used instead) up until the late 1990s when P&G brought that Western tradition there and changed their market once and forever. 

Chinese diapers had to be cheap, soft as a cloth, and keep a baby dry for 10 hours, to win the market. That's what P&G did - added softness and increased absorption. To decrease price, it moved diaper manufacturing to China to cut on shipping costs. 

To market them, P&G conducted a study that proved that babies fell asleep faster and slept longer in these Pampers diapers, which they extensively advertised and even linked that with improved development - which was a hit in the culture obsessed with academic achievement.  

Gillette Case Study ("How Gillette execs spent a fortune developing a razor for India using MIT student focus groups...without consideringhe country's lack of running water")

After an initial failure to test with the locals (Gillette tested with MIT students), Gillette team went to India. Trough several hundred observations of Indian men shaving in their local habitat (small huts with rare access to running water or mirrors), Gillette redesigned its razor (Gillette Guard) to make it cheaper to buy and convenient to use in such environments. It now represents two out of three razors sold in India. Before that, Indian men were using double-edged razors with no protective guards to protect the skin from cuts. It turned out that for Indian men, not cutting themselves is far more important then getting a very clean shave. With that in mind, Gillette designed the new razor's protective guard and removed the second blade to cut on costs and further improve safety. 

3. Exercises

Machine Translation of a Russian poem (Esenin, 1923) to English

Machine translation (MT) did a pretty good job at translating almost all the words that had a straight meaning, without any regard to the original rhyme or poetical (elevated) language though. 

What didn't get translated well was:
  • Metaphors ("seeing the eyes of the golden-brown pool" was used instead of a metaphor like "your eyes the color of a gold-brown lake" and "hair color in the fall" instead of "your hair the color of fall"). 
  • Words that have multiple meanings in Russian (wrong meaning was selected in the translation of "have forgotten dear gave"). "Gave" as the past tense of "give", in plural, has the same spelling as the Russian word for "distance/destination," which in that context should have been used instead. Another whole line that got a wrong translation because of the spelling/wrong meaning selection was "tread a gentle, easy camp" for what should have been translated as "gentle step, graceful waist". The Russian words for "step" and "waist" have multiple meanings, and MT didn't consider context to select the appropriate translation
  • Possessive pronouns (in translation of "свои/свою"- "lose your life" is used instead of "lose my life" and "in their own" instead of "in my own". The Russian possessive "own/self" (singular and plural -"свой/свои") is spelled the same way when used in conjunction with personal nouns/pronouns and will adjust to the gender and plurality depending on that noun in the context. For example, "у меня своя жизнь" means "I have my (own) life", but "у него своя жизнь" means "he has his (own) life."
The translation could be better if MT used context to determine the right translation of words when their spelling yields different meanings. That can be done by further testing language processing algorithms of the AI system used. For example, AI could be "taught" different metaphors and simple language rules by letting it scan the literary translations done by professional literature translators that are in open access and revising MT's algorithms based on such cross-comparison. 

It looks like Google MT lets users edit translated text if they feel like there is a better word choice. It says, "your contribution will be used to improve translation quality and may be shown to users anonymously"  but it's unclear what happens if multiple people submit different edits, and some of those edits are not correct. It's not very clear how MT would prioritize these edits and based on what exactly the translation quality will be improved. 

Here's my poetically translated version (not word-for-word, but very close) of the poem's first lines:

"Blue fire flamed up
Erasing my home destination.
It's the first time I've sung about love
It's the first time I've stopped my contention. 

I felt like an arrogant brat,
Drinking and loving beyond fixation.
Tired, I've moved past all that,
Gaining my life's foundation."

4. Inspirations + Explorations

This week's case studies were very insightful as they highlighted what work well and not well in designing for a local culture and why, and what strategies companies applied to improve their products. Reading through their insights and solutions has inspired me to look at some other cross-cultural case studies. So far I have looked at one by Airbnb, which was also interesting to read as it described some strategies (storytelling, user-generated designs) that the company used to drive its multicultural presence and global appeal. I hadn't thought about that before, but now I can see the value of case studies as something really easy to read and absorb, since they are pretty short but full of important insights. Also, I think it's important to document your process (all phases), so that in the end it can all be put together as a nice summary of "learnings", just like this company is doing. They are using "case studies" to build their agency's portfolio. 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

34. PROCESS BOOK // Week 7

1. Favorite Quotes

"The observation was generalized into a theory: insofar as the formal properties of different languages are different from one another, each of the world's languages gives access to a different mental world.(Bellos, “How Many Words Do We Have for Coffee?”)

I agree with this quote - there are different mental models embedded within languages (words) themselves - from how we perceive time, to how we give directions, and describe our surroundings. 

"To expand our minds and to become more civilized members of the human race, we should learn as many different languages as we can. The diversity of tongue is a treasure and a resource for thinking new thoughts.(Bellos, “How Many Words Do We Have for Coffee?”)

That's true that learning new languages opens up a door to learning new philosophies and worldviews, therefore, knowing multiple languages makes you more well-rounded. 

"The lack of a one-to-one relationship between countries, languages, and scripts means that designers must consider both language and country as potential determinants of design. The multitude of permutations of language, dialect, country, and script has implications for at least two key aspects of an internationalization project: language rendering and translation." (Aykin, "Practical Issues and Guidelines for International Information Display")

Sometimes the country is the same, but there may be several dialects or scripts within that same country (Japan, China), so that's a very good point. Designers need to consider not only the translation aspects of internationalization, but also the look and structural adaptation (as in numerical, nominal, etc.) of text. 

2. Explorations

As I was reading about Edward Sapir's theory of language equality, I remembered the universal grammar theory by Chomsky, which basically states that the human brain is hardwired for grammar from birth, so all languages have certain common principles. This one more time supports the idea of language equality in the sense of the ability for deep thought and expression. The rest (prestige vs. primitivity) are just labels given to languages based on their economic/political power and influence.

Reading a bit more about language adaptation in UX, I stumbled upon this article with tips for UX writing. In this article, two key points stood out to me as important for localization: jargon and humor. Jargon is never a good idea to use, especially in those cultures that do not have advanced technical skills, while humor is generally good, but it's very specific to the culture (can be misinterpreted) and can get annoying when it appears as part of error messages/notifications.

3. Notes

Below is my summary of important notes from the readings this week. These include some facts, history, and tips that I find interesting and important.

  • Different language = different mental world (e.g., no terms for "left" and "right", but cardinal orientation instead - North, South, East, West, etc.)
  • Grammatical category of evidentials  (Hopi language) - marking whether the noun is in the field of vision

  • Old hypothesis: primitive languages are not suited to higher thought because they seem to be deficient in conceptual words (e.g., "past", "time", "law", "God"). These primitive languages are concrete and lack in abstraction.
  • The European drive toward standard languages put "primitive" languages under the threat of extinction due to economic, political, urbanization causes
  • BUT: Edward Sapir: "All languages are equal", based on his long study of languages. There are no patterns of similarity and/or complexity that distinguishes them. They simply construct different mental models, which are equally valid for their own contexts. 

  • Translation DOWN: towards a vernacular/a language with lesser cultural, economic, or religious prestige. Translating down leaves a visible residue of the source (prestige) language. 
  • Translating down used for practical reasons - from the language of dominance to the languages used by peoples living within the field of domination (the USSR literature was made availible in Kazakh, Ingush, etc. languages of the Republics)
  • Most translations done today are translations down (from "more prestigious/dominant" languages like English, German, French)

  • Translation UP: towards the more general/prestige tongue. Erases most of the text's foreign origin. 

  • Formal equivalence: translation in which common meanings closely correspond to the source language
  • Dynamic equivalence: the translator substitutes some expressions with roughly the same meaning in the receiving society (this is practiced more in translating down). It often uses localized word substitutions. This is why Bible in Greek or Latin is closer to the essence of meaning than in vernacular translations (English). 

  • Nearly 80% of all translations in all directions (over a decade) are from English

Internationalization Guide - Things to Consider

  • Language (dialects and scripts within a single language)
  • Character sets (ASCII, ISO, Unicode, UT8-8, etc.)
  • Fonts (use simple fonts and leave enough space between lines and letters)
  • Text orientation
  • Local paper/screen size
  • Hardware (printers, keyboard styles)
  • Translation (abbreviations, spelling, word size/spacing, names/address formats, number formatting, calendar/holidays, etc.)

4. Exercises

Fitbit app - adapting for Brazil.


Image result for fitbit app
  • Since the dashboard of the app is icon-heavy, I would research if these images have the same interpretation in Brazil, and if not, redesign them to make sure they are understood. These seem to be pretty neutral at first glance. The two icons I'm most concerned about are the two green icons (see above) that are meant to represent calorie burn and the time being active. The calorie burn icon looks like a water droplet (although it's supposed to look like a little fire). I made sure that the literal translation of the English "burn" is the same in Portuguese (otherwise it wouldn't even make sense to make it look like fire), and it is the same meaning ("queimar" = burn). Making it look more like fire would be my recommendation (as on the screen below). It's interesting that FitBit uses these two slightly different icons interchangeably. I would recommend switching out the one on the main dashboard to the one seen below and sticking to it throughout the entire UI. The second questionable icon is the one representing power/energy. I did some more linguistic research, and it seems that the icon should be appropriate, since the use of Portuguese words for "power" and "energy" ("poder" and "energia") are also used to mean the same concept, and googling Portuguese icons for "energia" has revealed the exact same representation. 


  • The words used on the main dashboard in the English version are pretty short or use short versions ("cals" for "calories", etc.). I translated these words into Portuguese, and they are pretty much the same length (calories, escapes, minutos, milhas). Since the U.S. UI is very simplistic, there shouldn't be a problem with direct translation of the annotated icons and at the same time keeping the same spacing between them and the general look. 
  • One word that needs to be changed is "miles" into "kilometers", because that's the measurement people in Brazil use (km). 


In terms of color choices, Brazil's favorite colors are bright green and yellow, which the current UI offers, so I'd recommend keeping that.  The purplish-blue color used to represent the sleep cycle in the examples above needs to be changed in hue to blue (maybe with a teal tint?), because in Brazil, purple is associated with death and mourning. That is certainly not the association Brazilians would want looking at their sleep patterns.

Date and time format

The date format of the workout (January 23) from the example above (on the right) would have to be switched around, as follows: 23 de Janeiro. The time format in the upper left example (6:46pm) would have to be changed to the 24-hour format that Brazilians use, as follows: 18:46.

Additional functionality

Secondary research on wearable technology in Brazil states that many Brazilians would like to not only track their physical, but also mental progress: "The health and wellness trend was no novelty among Brazilians but became reality for many. Health and wellness-orientated consumers are quick to demand new interactive ways to track their physical and mental health as well as physical activity and the increase in volume underpins the gradual entry of these devices into individuals’ daily lives."

For design, this could mean introducing a way to track mental states, for example, by allowing the users to log their mental states daily (marking their emotional state on  a happy-down scale), so that the app could provide them with a recommendation or warning if their mental state becomes concerning. 

Metrics tracked 

Additional research is needed to determine what metrics the users would want to track and self-input (calories eaten, water intake, etc.)

Forums seem to be a good way to research important metrics, but not all relevant content that I found was in English.

Food (calorie) log

I found one thread with users' feedback about Fitbits not having Brazilian food in the database for calorie intake measurements. This could be solved by including local popular foods in the local database (moqueca, brigadeiros, quindim, etc.)


The question is, would we let the users set and adjust their exercise goals or pre-set them for them?

This seems to de dependent on Hofstede's Power Distance metric. According to Hofstede Insights, Brazil's Power Distance is almost twice as high as the USA metric, meaning that the users might want somebody making decisions for them more so than in the US (for somebody else to be in charge and guiding them), so for the FitBit app that could mean offering pre-set goals that the users can choose from, or set them for the users based on a quiz/calculated level of activity, calorie intake, and body index. For example, the app could pre-fill (as a suggestion) the user's goals based on personal data, but make them editable, so the user doesn't feel restricted.


The types of notifications that the users would like to receive, if any, are pretty hard to determine via secondary resarch.

I would research this during usability testing and qual interviews, where I'd ask users what kind of warning or feedback they would like to receive, and I would test a few different options with them.


Based on several Brazilian forum comments, it seems like FitBits are still symbols of status as they can't be easily acquired in Brazil and are often brought from the USA. Brazil is a high indulgence country: "While the current recession has certainly dampened Brazil’s impulsive buying tendencies, the Brazilian spirit won’t be quelled in the long run. A high indulgence suggests that Brazilians’ emotional, passionate nature lends itself toward enjoying life. Despite financial strains, Brazilians still believe in living life to the fullest through leisure time, having fun, and splurging occasionally"

With that "symbol of prestige" thinking in mind, FitBit designers could use that to their business advantage by introducing Fitbit bracelets that truly look and feel luxurious (stainless steel, rhinestones, leather, etc.) so that Brazilians could feel/showcase the status of owning such a device.


Since Brazilians love socializing (Brazil is a highly collectivist society), it's recommended to add an element of friendly competition/rating/sharing, where the user can easily share their data with friends or set group goals that the users can work towards together, as opposed to individually. For example, one user can set "challenges" for his/her friend and once the friend completes it, he/she gets a bonus and can set a challenge for his/her friend in return. 


1. The language - searching something in English doesn't yield many answers, especially for visual (icons) validation. This information would need to be double-checked and tested with the native speakers.
2. The language issue can be overcome by reading/buying reports highlighting insights for international markets. Usually you have to pay to get access to the report, but major insights can be summarized in the description.
3. The notifications and feedback desired by the users is hard to research through secondary research, even in the local environment for local users. I would conduct user testing for them - there is no way around it, unless you are a Brazilian and know for sure what you'd like to see.
4. Even though that language is a major barrier, some multilingual speakers post their issues and feedback on English forums, and I found some of the threads to be culturally helpful scrolling through.

5. Inspirations

I really love reading about different languages, especially about isolated and rare ones, as they carry so much culture and unique worldviews. As a former linguist who taught English to ESL speakers, I've read quite a few books and research papers on the specifics of their grammar/syntax, but have never gotten to learn one of such languages. There was a student in my linguistics class once who studied Paiute (one of the Native Indian languages), and I have always thought that was very cool, since she was learning it not just for the sake of learning, but also teaching it to preserve it, since these indigenous languages are endangered. I would like to learn a language like that. It would also be interesting to explore how technology fits into these less dominant languages/cultures.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

33. PROCESS BOOK // Week 6

1. Favorite Quotes

"For some, a workshop is one way to change the dynamic from passively listening to actively creating a new culture... One of the wonderful things about making the report immersive and interactive is that you are creating an experience that allows everyone to be part of the report. " (W. Quesenbery, Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World, Chapter 8)

I like this quote because it speaks to the value of immersive experience, during which the team feels included in the decision-making (insight-generating) process.

"[Taking photographs,] it's easy to focus on the people doing the thing you are researching, but in that local context, we need to ask why people aren't doing the thing. That can highlight the differences in perspective. Choosing not to do something is just as big a choice as choosing to do something." (W. Quesenbery, Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World, Chapter 8)

This quote was an interesting revelation to me as I never thought about things that are not happening (people not doing the things you are researching) as important before. I think that can be captured not only by means of photographs, but also by simple observation and interviews. 

 "That conversation starts with the informal debriefings and is continued through the work of analyzing and sharing the results. During that process, what Bas and Geke call the moment of synthesis occurs, when something triggers an understanding and becomes a new idea."(W. Quesenbery, Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World, Chapter 8)

Insight and idea generation seem to be such simple and at the same time complicated processes that nobody can precisely pinpoint when they occur. What are those "triggers" and is there a theory or framework for getting to important insights? It would be interesting to learn more about that. 

2. Explorations

When immersing yourself into a new culture, it's helpful to leave your biases and preconceptions aside (including what you know about technology and communication). Not everybody in the world is as privileged as we are in the US to have daily access to technology and the Internet, as one of the articles pointed out, so it's important to distance yourself from that preconception. This reminded me of the technique of Defamiliarization, when a researcher or designer tries to disconnect himself from what's common for them, so their mind turns into a blank slate. This technique is often used by cultural anthropologists, and the article provides some interesting insights about how homes are designed differently in different cultures (based on how people live and use their physical space), pointing out how the values are different, and you can't force some of these values. For example, the article states, "Efficiency is overrated.  In Western, and especially American, culture, technology is 
designed to make us more efficient, both outside and inside the home...Rituals in the home may be inefficient, but they should not be optimized away." And that is very much dependent on the culture you are designing for.

3. Sketches

Choosing the right prototyping method (summary of article)

  • Bandwidth, community, and location - three things to consider before creating a prototype:

  • Location: Where are you testing your prototype?
  • Bandwidth: Is internet access readily available? 
  • Community: How do people in this setting relate to technology? 

  • Start with paper prototypes that are less detailed and more conceptual or -
  • Scrolls - a series of paper prototypes for various screen interfaces (one page per every step in a user journey; glue the pages end-to-end and roll up the pages, showing one step at a time and asking the user to narrate what he thinks is happening)
  • Use digital prototypes to test discoverability and navigation
  • Swipe-through is a good way to test a digital prototype in a low-connectivity environment because the screens and images can be saved on the device prior to testing and do not require Internet connection
  • Dynamic, high-fidelity prototypes show full functionality of a product and are thus more clear how to use, but are usually expensive to build

Connectivity, Culture, and Credit (summary of article)

These 9 points are recommended for designers when creating apps, services, and devices tailored to the lives and local infrastructure in emerging markets. 

  • Internet availability and connectivity (is it always available and the same speed in all locations? How long users need to walk/travel to get connected to the Internet?)
  • Outside the US, smaller simpler devices are the norm (Is your product designed to work with older, low-end devices and software?)
  • Data limitations (Are local mobile phones prepaid? What do people do to save data? Can your product provide value while respecting the data budget of users?)
  • Not everybody uses credit cards (38 % of the world’s population doesn’t use a bank, cash-on-delivery and mobile money are other popular options. How do financial transactions work with your app?)
  • Bridge cultural divide (what do your users fear? Is security an issue?)
  • Support multiple languages
  • Leverage human relationships (does your solution improve local social infrastructure?)
  • Balance meaningfulness and hierarchy with the local aesthetic
  • Design for delight

Attacking the Phishing Epidemic (from article)

"The ultimate goal is to condition the user to a standardized interface that can both authenticate the validity of the resource as well as authenticate itself to the user before the user is willing to accept its legitimacy and input a password." - this is important to provide the user with peace of mind and let them feel secure. 

How Fintech Apps Use UX to Build Trust (tips from article)

1. Create a feeling of security - "alerts create a positive, safe experience" E.g., 

  • the bank’s app requires users to sign in every time they open it, and it automatically signs users out if they leave the app open without using it for a period of time
  • as an additional safety measure, the app automatically sends notifications every time a purchase is made
2. Explain what you ask for -
"To encourage users to submit accurate info, fintech apps explain why they need this information"

3. Require as little work as possible
"Rather than forcing log-ins or in-app processes, Digit allows users to easily set savings goals, transfer savings, and receive account updates through texts"

4. Add an element of fun
"Looking at their feed, Venmo users can see the goofy messages their friends have sent to each other in payments. The feed doesn’t share transaction amounts, so users’ privacy is protected and a lighthearted, enjoyable spirit is maintained."

4. Inspirations

I liked reading the companies' tips and case studies with their approaches to culturally-appropriate UX design. That has put the theory into practice for, at least in their examples. Of course, companies and products do differ, but most of the same principles can be applied. It's good to be culturally aware and realize that living in the US (where access to technology is the norm) is very different, and you have to un-see it to be able to relate to the local population, their everyday lifestyles, and user-technology interactions. To put it in one sentence, one important takeaway for me from this week was that being a researcher, it's important to distance yourself from your own culture (defamiliarize) and immerse yourself into the culture in question, by taking smalls steps at a time with a child's perspective (asking such simple questions as - what kind of technologies do people have? Are they expensive? Does everybody have access to the Internet? How do you send pictures/videos/download content? Etc.)