Kairavi Chahal
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International UX: A Blog

Week 2: Culture Studies and Models


  • Global UX, chaps. 3 & 4

  • Malcolm Gladwell, "The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes"

  • Cultural studies presentation

  • Exercise: Visual for a cultural model

In-class exercises and at-home assignments

#1 Cultural Studies Presentation

Our group presented on Minkov Chapter 6.

#2 Visual for a Cultural Model



Global UX: Chapter 3

  • “…it is only by thinking about how two cultures are similar or different that we can talk about what is unique about each of them.”

    • I like the fish analogy that the authors use. Culture is so intangible and closely entangled in everything we do that it can be hard to describe our own or other cultures.

  • “…look beyond individuals to see the whole ecosystem around them. What are the things and the people who surround them and shape their experiences in ways that are relevant to your product?”

    • You can’t design in a vacuum, and there will always be unanticipated factors that affect your design.

  • “People in India typically speak two or three different languages: one language within their family, the Hindi national language, and English.”

    • Actually, Hindi is not the national language of India. It is, though, one of the 23 officially recognized languages — i.e., government business can be conducted in it. It is also pretty widespread and commonly spoken.

  • “[…] most of the world speaks something other than English as their first language, and 75% speak no English at all. […] there is not one big global Web. ‘The Internet has become a bunch of interlinked but linguistically distinct and culturally specific spaces.‘“

    • The statistic was surprising to me, only 25% of people speak English. Perhaps it is because I too am within the Anglosphere, but I wonder how non-English speaking cultures/people get a lot of academic information, since that is mostly in English? (As far as I know.) Or is English just a requirement to enter that realm of education/academia?

Global UX: Chapter 4

  • “People described themselves as open to new experiences, suggested how important it is to be open to new perspectives, and called being open a basic characteristic of a good UX designer or researcher…”

    • Completely agree. Curiosity and genuine interest.

  • “The next day it was raining, so I met some people in the hostel. We spent the day in a café, drinking coffee and wine and chatting and watching people go by and watching the garden a little bit. And it felt much more like I had experienced Paris than the day before.”

    • I like this approach to traveling. This is also how you should approach UX research. Don’t just see the highlights and landmarks, but really experience it as if you already live there.

  • “They won't tell you these little things, so you must observe quietly and then find the right time to ask questions.”

    • How to do research.

  • “You also need to be careful of a sort of time capsule effect. Immigrant cultures tend to represent the peak period of migration. Very quickly, the community can become quite different than their homeland as people become acculturated in their new country. This is especially important if either country has experienced rapid change.”

    • I notice this a lot with some of my aunts, uncles and cousins who emigrated from India.

Outliers: Chapter 7

  • “Planes are safer when the least experienced pilot is flying, because it means the second pilot isn’t going to be afraid to speak up.”

    • Mitigated speech — due to organizational hierarchy, in the case of the pilots

  • “…communicate not just in the sense of issuing commands but also in the sense of encouraging and cajoling and calming and negotiating and sharing information in clearest and most transparent manner possible.”

    • This applies to UXers who are designing for another culture as well. It’s not enough to simply just read a book or watch a movie about a culture, but rather you must talk to the people and experience it

  • transmitter-oriented vs. receiver-oriented languages

    • I am very interested in learning about different languages, and this had not occurred to me. That a language/culture could expect the receiver to be responsible for gathering the correct meaning completely boggles my mind. I can’t imagine why such a thing would have originated, as it seems counter-productive to the aim of a language — to communicate.


I started following the UXPod mentioned in Global UX, and listened to the first episode I found that was related to global UX, different cultures, etc. Here are my thoughts on it:

  • Talks about more unique ‘cultures’ that are often not addressed/designed for — e.g. non-binary people, people who have experienced a loss, multi-racial people. Even these are cultures that researchers and designers should go out and find out more about, so they can be more empathetic while designing.

  • Root cause is a homogenous culture at the companies themselves, compounded by a lack of caring or understanding. Algorithms/AI are used as a scapegoat for this lack of caring/understanding.

  • Tech industry itself has cultivated a culture of mystifying how/what they do, so the outside world is not able to hold them accountable. Transparency of culture was mentioned in previous chapters, and should apply not only to geography-based cultures, but also company cultures. Researchers and designers should also acknowledge their own cultures and any biases that may bring.


I attempted to capture everything that influences cultures described in  Global UX, Chapter 3

I attempted to capture everything that influences cultures described in Global UX, Chapter 3


Personal/Professional inspirations

Reading more about other UX designers’ experiences with learning about other cultures for work, I hope I am able to get a job that involves a lot of interaction/learning about other cultures. Traveling would be a plus :)

Kairavi Chahal