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.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

32. PROCESS BOOK // Week 5

Favorite Quotes

To UX people, the need is very clear: "You can't understand the user without understanding the eco-system around them," as Anjali Kelkar put it. That means getting out of the office and going to where the users are. (W. Quesenbery, Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World, Chapter 7)

This quote speaks to the importance of in-person interviews and observations within the local environment. You can have the best resources in the world about the culture in question, but sitting at your desk is not going to help you much answering your research questions. Theory differs from practice on a lot of levels, and working with people and families, the ways in which their interact with others and physical objects has to be researched from scratch, locally. I believe secondary research (as in books and culture guides) is great at its initial stage, but researching in the field and testing with users in their environment (or local lab) yield much more quality results than remote research and testing. 

"After all, the whole point of global UX research is to understand people from cultures different than your own. You need to do more than fire questions at people. Your facilitation techniques need to create a space where you can meet them on their terms. That's a very different attitude from feeling you always have to be in control." (W. Quesenbery, Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World, Chapter 7)

I agree that to be a good researcher you have to have good people skills. The way you sit, or ask questions, or even listen can be encouraging or disturbing, in which case your participant will not have the motivation to share his or her true feelings and/or will feel stressed and it lead to failure in quantitative tests. In my practice, I find it helpful to be prepared for sessions, when you come in with a certain plan in mind and a few ice-braking or interesting activities for participants - that helps get them relaxed. I hear that bringing snacks helps create an easy-going, friendly atmosphere too. 
"This is the essence of ethnography. Instead of collecting "data" about people, the ethnographer seeks to learn from people, to be taught by them In order to discover the hidden principles of another way of life, the researchers must become a student." (W. Quesenbery, Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World, Chapter 7)

As a huge proponent of qualitative research (and ethnographies), I love this quote because it points out one important thing - talk less, listen more. You just have to be genuinely interested in what your participant is telling you, and your conversation will flow naturally, sometimes into areas you do not expect. But that's the whole point - learn about something completely new that can be outside the borders of your existing knowledge or assumptions. 


I found a blog post by a UX researcher who conducted research in the Philippines in English, since it is spoken there as a second language, although he notes that "the majority still prefer to speak in Filipino or Taglish (Tagalog + English)". So even though a language barrier did not seem to exist at first, through his research he uncovered it was still an issue, so he had to adapt his materials and approach overall, which he shares in his post. The main tip he provides is that you have to learn the local language at least on the conversational level, and it's always helpful to have at least another member of the team who knows the language and who can moderate, if necessary. He also mentions the importance of creating a calm atmosphere for the participants and speaking in their terms - his strategy was "mirroring" how they spoke (which version of the language they spoke), which made his participants trust him more and open up more. 



1. Culturally neutral icons

This is my attempt to design three icons that would not require translation and would be understood in any country.


2. Ethnography on the edge (tools and methods)

When in Rome or Africa (tips for conducting research in a foreign country)

  • Get out to explore the context
  • Get out of your comfort zone to learn

Top 15 tips:

1. Stay in a locally-owned or run hotel (or even better, guest house).
2. Spend as much time as possible on foot. Draw a map.
3. Get out of the city.
4. Check out the best places to watch Premiership football.
5. Ignore health warnings (within reason) and eat in local cafes/markets.
6. Buy local papers, listen to local radio, watch local TV, visit local cinemas.
7. Use public transport. Avoid being ‘chauffeured’ around.
8. Take a camera. Take your time taking pictures.
9. Go for at least a month.
10. Visit villages on market days.
11. Spend time in local bookshops, libraries and antique/art shops.
12. Read up on the history and background of where you’re going. Buy a locally-written history and geography book.
13. Be sure to experience the city on foot, at night.
14. Wherever you are, get up for a sunrise stroll. It’s a different, fascinating (and cooler) time of day.
15. Don’t over-plan. Be open to unexpected opportunities

Challenges of Urban Fieldwork: A Scavenger Hunt Approach

List of recommended questions for ethnographers who are trying to figure out what to do, where to go, and what to ask in urban settings. 

1) Who are the figures of fame and celebrity, prestige and notoriety in this society? 

2) Aesthetics and beauty – what are the bodily ideals as expressed in popular culture? In music lyrics, in local advertising, in dress practices?

3) Daily and weekly routines 

4) Purchasing and markets 

5) Sense of global position People of what nationalities are present in this urban space? Where are they visible and involved in what kinds of work? What foreign media are consumed? 

6) Place names – how are they arrived at? Are places referred to by official names or by the convention of practice? Are they given personal names or descriptive names? What can you find out about the people that places are named after? How do people give directions? How do they navigate to places they haven’t been to before? Are maps available, are maps used much?

7) Music and the sonic landscape – what are the different styles of music you hear in this place? Where are these different styles heard? How do people describe when/where different music styles are appropriate? What are the sounds heard in the streets? During the day vs. at night? At what volume? How do people feel about ambient noise levels?

8) Leisure activities – where do people go and what do they do for fun?

9) Architecture and the built environment – what are buildings made out of? What is the approximate ratio of formal to informal dwellings? How is the architecture of shops different from homes or government buildings, schools, temples or churches, etc? What are the features of dwellings of affluent vs. middle-class vs. poor people?

10) What insults do drivers shout at each other in traffic?


This week's reading has provided me with a new lens on the process of research with a global perspective. It made me think of the challenges that come into play - the knowledge of the language, trip and logistics planning, and forming teams for participating in research. Even though I conducted research in a foreign country, I was a native speaker there, and that made it so much easier. I imagine it's a lot more complex and stressful for second-language speakers, since they have to also pay attention to the language, idioms, and jokes, which do not always translate well across cultures. It would be great to talk to somebody who had that experience and see what suggestions they have. Maybe having a native-language speaker on the team is a must? Or maybe a better option is to hire a local research agency to conduct all local research and just provide you with the data at the end? And if it is a better option, why do companies still send their own teams to foreign countries? This is the questions I'd like to explore further to find out what the common rules and determining factors are.