Culturally Appropriate Web User Interface Design Study: Research Methodology and Results

Culturally Appropriate Web User Interface Design Study: Research Methodology and Results

Irina Kondratova (National Research Council of Canada, Canada) and Ilia Goldfarb (National Research Council of Canada, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-883-8.ch014
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Abstract

A number of research studies support the importance of culturally appropriate design for e-business, e-commerce and advanced learning applications. This is not surprising, considering influence of user interface design on usability, accessibility and acceptability of software. To identify cultural preferences in visual interface design, the authors conducted research studying culture-specific web interface design elements for a large number of countries all over the globe. This chapter reports on study methodology and results, focusing mostly on the global colors study. The authors explain the approach and research methodology they utilized to conduct the automated “cultural audit” for identification of culture-relevant design and color preferences in web interface design. Research methodology for a manual “cultural audit” is also discussed. The authors present the overall findings of their study, and conclude with observations on the usefulness of their research approach, the applicability of cultural analysis tools the authors developed and future research in culturally appropriate user interfaces.
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Background

With wide-spread development of online communications, we learned to appreciate that the world is rapidly becoming a global marketplace. This is especially true for web applications and services that could be accessed all over the globe. In this new global economy: “As a consequence of existing international Internet users and in anticipation of potential users, usability takes on a relevant cultural context” (Barber, 1998). The importance of culturally appropriate user interface design for web-based business and government applications is emphasized by many researchers (Becker, 2002; Del Galdo, 1996; Hornby, 2002; Smith, 2004; Sun, 2001). Specifically, it is noted by many, that the “culturability” (Barber, 1998), a combination of culture and usability in web design, directly impacts on the user’s perception of credibility and trustworthiness of websites (Fogg, 2002; Jarvenpaa, 1999; Marcus, 2000).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cultural Web Data Mining: Collecting and analyzing and visualizing data related to cultural preferences expressed in website designs for a particular locale (country).

Rapid Prototyping: A step in software development process that supports user’s involvement in design by allowing users to see and experience the final system before it is built.

Cultural Appropriateness: Cultural appropriateness is essential for designing user interfaces or web interfaces for international and country-specific audiences that will be accepted and liked by the users.

Cultural Interface Design Advisor Tool: A decision support tool that helps the user to select culturally appropriate design elements for a website.

Culturability: A combination of usability and cultural appropriateness for a particular audience

Cultural Analysis Tools: Software tools that assist in collecting data and analyzing usage of specific cultural markers on websites for a particular locale (country or region).

Culture: Includes the customary beliefs, forms of expression, and material traits of a particular racial group situated within certain geographical location and within certain time.

Cultural Markers: In our study cultural markers are web user interface design elements such as colors, fonts, images, layout that are prevalent within website designs for a particular country.

Visual Web Design: Important in communicating with the uses, involves choices of visual design elements and their organization on the webpage to engage the users.

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