Intercultural Design

tag: presentation

Date: 2013 May 29
Audience: UXPA Boston 2013 conference
Source: Slideshare

I was fortunate enough to be accepted to present on a topic of great interest to me: merging principles of intercultural communication with UX design.

During grad school, I'd done some work with sociolinguistics and discourse analysis in the context of intercultural communication. It was immediately evident to me that these ways of parsing and interpreting language had strong implications for designers: understanding these would help broaden designers' skills of empathy when designing for other cultural groups.

For this presentation, I started with a basic overview of how to think about culture in the context of design (examples: countries, regions, groups within our own country, different industries), principles and values of intercultural thinking, and some implications of designing/working interculturally, whether that means doing work with multicultural clients/subject matter or working on a global/multicultural team.

From there, I referenced a few more common value/communication frameworks (Clifford Geertz, Ron Scollon and Suzanne Wong Scollon, and Edward Hall) and mapped them to tangible examples of designing for different cultures. For example, power distance between "superiors" (a company/government) and "subordinates" (citizens/consumers) can impact the information architecture of a site, in terms of how much information is made readily available to end users and how freely they're able to navigate.

I closed with basic reminders, such as to avoid making assumptions and "other"ing people based on their differences, and to remember to focus on similarities as well.

Preparing this talk definitely reignited my interest in pursuing these ideas and their design applications more formally. I would love to continue to research and observe along these lines, and keep presenting and/or publishing on the topic if possible. This was my first conference presentation and I immensely enjoyed the experience.

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