We are all humans, but culture… – Travelling With The User – Part VII
Humans are the same but different. Culture matters. Especially, when you design or develop something that will be used on a larger scale – regional, global or interplanetary.
North Europeans like their content straight and to the point. Far East Asians like a lot of everything in it. White spaces are considered as incomplete and lacking important information. Chinese like things red and yellow. In the West, red is a warning colour for us. Nowadays, for many liberals orange is one, too.
No matter whether we like it or not, we don’t see eye to eye in the real world and respectively in the digital one. And in order to be able to build bridges, we have to try walking in the shoes of those that see things differently.
When you start a new project, the target audience matters a lot. Chances are that it is not going to be localised within the geography of one country or culture. Nowadays, almost everyone is trying to tap the global market. Familiarising yourself with the cultures at hand prior to projects real work kick-off is very important.
Proper research on what makes the target audience culture or cultures tick is in order. Goals will be reached in a much better if cultural differences are accommodated and looked after.
On a few occasions, I had to work on global websites as part of a team. Sadly, the variety of cultures and their implications were always deemed unsuitable to the budget requirements. I wish it was otherwise, but usually, this is the sole reason for not making things right for the user. And I think this was a mistake.
In a world where civilisations write in different directions, have different perceptions of what good design is, or see the glass half full versus half empty, content and designs can only miss opportunities by not taking these differences into account.
Culture is what brings us together, but also what distinctly separates us.
Image source: Benetton
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