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Tag: Alexa

Multilingual moms rock

Localization, Technology

UX and diversity

Anytime you’re doing UX research, you should be including gender and roles in that research. That includes gender-based and language-based roles in your user research. And bear in mind, “roles” are not always about 9-to-5 jobs, as any full-time parent will tell you.

Alexa: A well-known feminist. But multilingual options are a must for voice-first customers (Amazon Echo image via Internet fair use).

Multilingual options are a must for voice-first customers (Amazon Echo image via Internet fair use).


For example, the Social Lens Research Voice Command Study offers valuable insight into how multilingual moms experience voice-driven conversational interactions. One conclusion is that “Multicultural moms are more likely to use voice commands across more devices, locations, and for more reasons.”   

These US moms are the real power users of voice assistants when it comes to voice-first design thinking. Fascinating stuff; with device-neutral and flexible context of use across languages. And there is of course an important business message to be gleaned from this study: “Include Spanish/bilingual language options. Adapt to how your users actually talk and what words they use in both languages moms who are constantly online and own multiple devices are the current power users of voice.” 

Gender Fender

Here’s another example: the Fender Stratocaster electric guitar — Leo Fender’s classic innovation through design.

User experience storytelling. Electric guitars at Star's Music, Paris. Image by Ultan Ó Broin.

User experience storytelling. Electric guitars at Star’s Music, Paris. Image by Ultan Ó Broin.

I was fascinated by the notion that the comfort aspect of the design was influenced by the shape of the musician’s body. I presume, at the time, playing an electric guitar seemed like a “man’s job,” so the new guitar reflected male player body shapes.

And indeed, St. Vincent (singer Annie Clarke) has responded with her own electric guitar, especially designed for women“Clark wanted to design a more practical guitar than the historic Fender Stratocaster or Gibson Les Paul,” LIFEGATE explains, quoting Clark as saying “I would need to travel with a chiropractor on tour in order to play those guitars.”

One size does not fit all

Remember that context of use research must be multi-dimensional — gender, roles, language, and more must be taken into account or you will miss key parts of your customer base. Think diversity.

You may have examples of other gender and language dimensions that need to be included in your global UX research. Please leave a comment if so!

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Vive La French Tech! Chatbots, French Style

Language, Localization Technology, Personalization and Design

A Chat About Bots

Conversational UI, that natural interaction between human and technology, is a hot topic worldwide, and the localization requirements for creating a great contextual natural user experience are fascinating and challenging, none more so than in the case of chatbots.

La French Tech. See https://www.facebook.com/LaFrenchTechEN/ for more information!

La French Tech. See https://www.facebook.com/LaFrenchTechEN/ for more information on the French technology startup and investment community.

As Arle Lommel from CommonSense Advisory says: Chatbots pose challenges fundamentally different from what is seen with traditional content. The shift to conversational structures and the need to embrace “messy” terminology are among these. Click To Tweet

There are other challenges too. Plan ahead.

What’s Going On Globally?

Here’s a great example from France by way of an article featuring Amina Esselimani, a top French user experience design thinker, published on the Prototypr blog: Conversational interface for chatbot & voicebot: the French touch.

The article itself gives good insight into why chatbots should be used, and the methodologies involved. I was fascinated by the human-oriented design language used by Amina to describe her work, using phrases such as “happy path” and “repair conversations.”

Her comments about using the “Wizard of Oz” design requirements technique, engaging with conversational style content experts, and iterative testing with real users really resonated too. We've moved from user-centered design to human-centered design, and dealing with how humans actually communicate and simulating that kind of exchange can indeed be very messy in any language! Click To Tweet

I also checked out some of the chatbot solutions Amina worked on, such as the Oui.SNCF bot. I wondered if it had a French personality (personality is a critical design element in conversational UI) and what the tone would be my questions about the ongoing SNCF rolling strikes.

Hofstede's six dimensions of national culture. A useful starting point, but real users doing real jobs in real places are the best way to determine the appropriate bot personality for the job to be done.

Hofstede’s six dimensions of national culture, in this case comparing France with Ireland and the United States of America. Hofstede’s work is a useful starting point when developing a bot personalit, but real users doing real jobs in real places are the best way to determine the appropriate bot personality for the job to be done.

All utterances were handled very diplomatically, I must say, even making sense of my mangled French language utterances!

Out.SNCF chatbot available in multiple languages too.

Out.SNCF chatbot is available in multiple languages too. I stuck with French!

Alexa en Français

You might also like to read Wired’s fascinating, and sometimes humorous artlcle, Inside Amazon’s Painstaking Pursuit to Teach Alexa French in the run up to its launch in France.

Amazon Echo (Alexa) launch advertisement.

Amazon Echo voice assistant was launched in France in June 2018. Alexa was trained to be speak and act “French”.


Cultural differences create conversational landmines. And you just can’t be sure that everyone will like you. As it turns out, that as true for people as it is for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Click To Tweet

More information on globalization methods for conversational UIs and chatbots?

To understand more of the challenges presented by chatbot and conversational UI design and the cultural considerations involved, then check out my SF Globalization presentation and handy checklist on the subject of chatbot design for  global and local audiences: “Alexa, Tell Me About Global Chatbot Design and Localization!”

All images by Utan O’Broin

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+ posts

Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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