Kairavi Chahal
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International UX: A Blog

Week 1: Course Intro


  • Global UX, chaps. 1 & 2

  • Harrari, "The Tree of Knowledge"

  • Exercise: Time Visualization graphic

In-class exercises and at-home assignments

#1 Meet People

In this exercise we had to go around the room and figure out who spoke which language, had which degree and what interests. I didn’t get to meet the person who speaks ‘pidgin’ — curious about which pidgin they know. Seeing the interests aggregated in this way was really cool, because I realized I had some interests I hadn’t even thought of.


#2 Discuss Time

In groups, we discussed what image came to mind when we thought of ‘time.’ Our group combined symbols into the figure you see here.

  • The triangle is for delta (𝚫) which symbolizes change in mathematics. To me this means time, because without change, there is no time.

  • The circle signifies the continuity of time and how history repeats itself.

  • The line signifies both directionality and motion in time.

#3 Compare Cultures

Using the Hofstede Insights country comparison tool we paired up and compared countries (preferably ones we were familiar with). My group ended up comparing India, Indonesia and Mexico. The countries were fairly similar in most respects, but there was a stark difference in indulgence, with Mexico scoring very high on the scale.


Global UX: Chapter 1

I put in bold the parts I most identified with. This chapter basically encapsulates why we need to learn about other cultures and perspectives, and what sort of attitude to approach that learning with.

  • “When you start designing outside of your own cultural foundation, you have to really pay attention. If you are not open to those insights, you will just miss the opportunity to connect with the person you are designing for. Our design work is about creating a deep-seated emotional connection with people.” — Steve (Doc) Baty

  • “UX starts with understanding the users, but it's not enough to just do a quick usability test or a few interviews, ticking off an item on a list by rote. We learned that doing user research right means putting your assumptions on the table and doing the work to either support or debunk them. It means taking the time to be open, to listen for the nuances of cultural perspectives. And it means helping all team members understand the messages of the research.
    But even after the research sessions and feedback meetings are over, you need the diverse perspectives that bringing together a global team gives you, and ways to make sure that those voices are heard. It takes a long time, perhaps a whole lifetime, to really understand a culture, so teams need
    local voices to contribute to global projects.” — Whitney Quesenbery and Daniel Szuc

Global UX: Chapter 2

  • “Sometimes the flatness of the network means that products find a market they weren't looking for.”

    • I like examples like this where a different target audience ends up benefitting from a product or feature.

  • “Like usability or accessibility, it's better when they are built in from the start.”

    • Convincing stakeholders about this is a challenge, however. When people want to get a project finished quickly and cheaply, these things fall to the wayside.

  • “[…] the need to develop local skills. Some of these stories were about training new talent in markets where the whole idea of UX is still new.”

    • This is something I am thinking about now, as I consider whether I want to move back home to India to work, or stay here. UX Design is not a very established field there yet, but hopefully my training here will be valuable if I do go back.

  • “Innovation and influence no longer flow only from West to East or from industrial to emerging countries.”
    ”People here understand the concepts, but the problem is that they lack local experience, and have no time to try out their ideas.”

    • This is also related to my previous point about emerging markets — India seems to be solving the problem by starting their own versions of existing US companies, allowing them time to learn.

  • “We have to be a lot more disciplined about how we share insights from our interviews.”

    • I agree with this a lot. Good communication is just all-around a valuable skill to practice. Consistency and standardization, saying what you mean, etc.

  • “You can think of yourself as a global person, even if you haven't traveled a lot.”

    • Being aware and having an interest is enough.

  • “Jugaad: A Hindi buzzword that refers to a quickly improvised, innovative solution. It often points to creativity to make something out of existing resources or by repurposing materials, making do with what is at hand.”

    • Interestingly, in my experience this is used as more of a derogatory term colloquially — similar to when people say “That’s so janky.” In this book, it seems to be used in a manner more similar to Macguyver-ing stuff, which has more positive connotations.

Sapiens: Chapter 2

Most of the chapter provides historical context for what makes humans different from animals or other humanoid species. The connection to global UX was a bit unclear, but toward the end made more sense.

  • “Thanks to their ability to invent fiction, Sapiens create more and more complex games, which each generation develops and elaborates even further.“

    • Different cultures can also be thought of as ‘games’ (as the word is used by Harrari).

  • “…in order to understand how Sapiens behave, we must describe the historical evolution of their actions.”

    • This explains the approach we must take, as global practitioners of UX, to understand other cultures.


  • Global vs. local — top-down vs. bottom up. This section reminded me of the comic below. One solution won’t work for everyone; customizing UX for a country, region or culture, will allow everyone to get the most out of the product. Localization leads to globalization (equity).



My notes from  Sapiens, Chapter 2

My notes from Sapiens, Chapter 2


Personal/Professional Inspirations

At the start of this class, I feel like I will learn a lot about the nuances and detailed aspects of global and international UX. I feel like I already agree with the broader, basic concepts — that it is important to understand other cultures before/when designing for them. And it is important to actually design for different cultures.

Kairavi Chahal