Kairavi Chahal
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International UX: A Blog

Week 6: Culture and the Design Process


In-class exercises and at-home assignments

At-home Exercise: Fitness/Health app exercise

I chose to adapt the Nike Run Club app for Saudi Arabia.

It was fairly easy to find articles about general cultural attitudes, but it was harder to find information about specific symbols, etc. Horton and Aykin provided good examples, but I feel like they were too anecdotal and didn’t include all possible symbols ever, so it was hard to know if something would need to be changed or not. I got around this by posing questions that the designer could ask a local or do more research about, rather than providing concrete changes.




Global UX: Chapter 8

  • “Debriefing as you go keeps the information fresh.”

    • This is definitely something I’ve noticed and learned very quickly, in my limited experience with user research.

  • “[A research] expo is a full-day event during which people experience the research instead of reading about it. They take over a room for a day and set up a self-guided exhibit of posters, artifacts, and videos from the research. People can wander through it like a gallery, taking in all in. Members of the study team are there to talk about the findings with them.”

    • I like this because it makes the research very real to other stakeholders. Often just a report seems boring and doesn’t convey the amount of work that actually went into research.

  • “The more material you have, the easier the story is to create and the more it communicates a depth of understanding. More importantly, stories are especially effective when you are describing a ‘foreign’ place.”

    • This also reminds me of the Sapiens chapter we read earlier — how humans rely a lot on storytelling to make sense of everything and to exchange information.

  • “When storytelling across cultures, we need to take into consideration several things: meaning, context, cultural gaps, important or difficult words/phrases and expressions, worldview, the plot/theme and intended meaning of the story, idiomatic expressions, historical implications, implicit information, frame of reference and shared frame of reference, and so on.”

    • I’m not sure how I feel about the iceberg analogy they use right before this quote. The story is the tip of the iceberg, and the context is hidden underwater. It is true, but when researchers are trying to convey their findings, it is best to expose the entire iceberg. So, maybe it’s more like the Moai statues after they excavated their bodies?

Next Billion Users: Sketch, Scroll, or Swipe?

  • “How do people in this setting relate to technology?”

  • “The less detailed, conceptual designs typically give participants more space to interpret a prototype from their perspective. Paper prototypes may also help reduce positive feedback bias, which is when participants refrain from negative feedback in order to be polite.”

  • “Because the interaction between person and paper isn’t as immediate, this prototype method generally slows the user down long enough to read the text.”

    • An interesting point I hadn’t thought of about paper prototypes.

  • “[…] you should first determine clear goals.”

    • Applicable to all research, not just scroll-style prototypes.

  • “Participants also have more freedom to explore the digital prototype and can learn how to use the application by tapping the screen.”

    • Digital prototypes (usually) allow the user to feel more comfortable. In the example at the beginning of the article, it was an unforeseeable reaction to the digital prototype. How can we think ahead to prevent such situations, in addition to learning from past mistakes?

How Fintech Apps Use UX To Build Trust

  • “But for fintech designers, adding friction is a job requirement.”

    • I like the term friction — just like in physics, it’s good in some cases, and bothersome in others. If it’s put there intentionally, it can be good.

  • “To encourage users to submit accurate info, fintech apps explain why they need this information. Offering a valid reason for requesting personal info allows users to have confidence in the app. They understand why the app needs the info to function properly, so they accurately share their info.”

    • Designers should also use this as a design exercise. As a designer, explaining why you are collecting certain data can help you get rid of unnecessary or irrelevant input fields that sometimes are put into forms and app thoughtlessly.

Zdziarski: Attacking the Phishing Epidemic

This article made me more paranoid about phishing! I thought I’d be pretty good at identifying it, but it talked about some methods of phishing that I hadn’t thought of.

Sambasivan: Connectivity, Culture, and Credit

I like articles like this that can be used as sort of a checklist before starting research, so you can watch out for common mistakes while planning your research as well as when designing.

  • “[…] studying everything from an individual’s daily routines to their values, politics, and local infrastructure to understand how these factors impact the role of technology in their lives.”

    • Similar message as Global UX — take a holistic approach to research and consider all sorts of contextual factors.

  • “Indian law requires public WiFi-users to provide their phone numbers and get a code to access the portal.”

    • Interesting, I didn’t know this was the law. Goes back to the Fintech article, where you should explain to the user why you are collecting certain information.

    • I also feel like laws are often not considered at the beginning of the process, but rather after the design has been created and is being reviewed by the legal team. It would be useful to have a legal consult from the target region as well.

  • “[…] if you can connect with people, you can get news. You can buy and sell things. You can search for information. You can express your identity and engage in conversation and debate.”

    • Hofstede’s dimensions would also come into play here.


Reading the Fintech Apps article reminded me of a few days ago when I was helping my parents in India troubleshoot an issue they were having with the Uber payment system. While trying to find an answer online — I came across Uber’s blog post about how they developed the payment system for South Asia. The funny thing was that they clearly hadn’t solved all the problems because the cash option was causing problems for my parents. This article describes more of the design process than the how they went about the research, but still interesting to read.

Kairavi Chahal