Tag: ethnography

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How Well Do You Know Your Local User? Take A Walk (or Run) In Their Shoes

Localization Culture, Personalization and Design

How well do you know the local market? What assumptions do you operate on? Well, take a look at this post “Design Time @ Run Time: Putting the Apple Watch Through Its Paces in Beijing” over on the Oracle AppsLab (@theappslab) blog.

Running in Beijing: I survived. My cultural assumptions didn't.

Running in Beijing: I survived. My cultural assumptions didn’t.

It’s a shoutout for the user experience practice of ethnography or doing user research “in the wild”. In this case, I used the example of running in Beijing. I discovered that pretty much everything I thought I knew about that was, well, wrong.

Do you have examples of interesting surprises or false assumptions that you’ve come across about local markets from a cultural or localization perspective?

Find the comments.

 

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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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Google Glass Exploration: A Global Heads Up

Localization Culture, Personalization and Design

If you’re a fan of the cultural dimensions of information and communications technology and also into wearables, then you might like to play at being a Geert Hofstede or Edward T. Hall over the Holidays.

Read and analyze the blog “Heads Up on Displays: Exploring Google Glass Globally” to satisfy your inner academic. You may even come up with a new theory, until I get around to it.

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London’s Selfridges at night. Pictured through Google Glass (pic: Ultan O’Broin)

The blog features the reactions of different cultures to Google Glass Explorers and includes some nice local observations from China, Ireland, Mexico, the UK, and the U.S.. We categorize Google Glass as a Heads Up Display (HUD) technology, which is a key user experience trend for 2014, along with other wearables. That trend is global.

It’s a fun blog and purely qualitative, but it will inform  the shaping of something more scientific later. Expect to see and hear more about the cultural, linguistic, and related aspects of HUDs and other wearables in 2014. Over to the industry for comment ….

Happy Holidays (or local variants thereof)!

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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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What Localization Can Learn From Dolphins in Asia

Blogos, Personalization and Design

Quite a lot actually! In this case, it’s not  Flipper you need to chatter with, but read the great user experience-driven article featuring Dolphin Browser VP of Business Development, Edith Yeung. Edith tells us that it’s “culturalization”, and not just “localization” (as we know it), that is the secret sauce to succeeding in new markets.

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Bottlenose Dolphin (image from WikiPedia Commons)

Actually, such cultural awareness, the nuances or contextual insights from local users,  brought to life in the product or service as user experience (UX), are key to success in every market. Now, there is nothing new in nuancing the concept of localization further towards what might be termed cultural customization, of course. However, it’s so encouraging to see  such an appreciation emanating from the VP level rather than from academics or UX professionals.

The article is well worth a read for some telling examples and use cases into the importance of local knowledge, relevant content, the reflection of local context in design and usage features, and how adopting a “one size fits all” approach to world markets is a recipe for failure. Again, we have a powerful challenge to the notion we need to learn everything from the U.S. Here are some lessons from Asia that can be “localized” for other markets too. Great emerging market stories!

What is particularly interesting is the Dolphin partner strategy, the development outreach, and engagement with smaller and open source players around the world. Time will tell if this approach will be enough to build and maintain a business edge. That said, the realization that “if you don’t talk to the locals you will never know” is a solid foundation to offering products and services that people really want to use. Did you know this?

The average Singaporean perhaps, would never know of the existence of a forum called Kaskus in Indonesia, which is popular and highly influential among young locals because it is sometimes politically incorrect, especially in lashing out against traditional rival Malaysia.

In Vietnam, Yeung also found out via a user event that the Vietnamese were especially enthusiastic about Dolphin providing 100 percent access to Facebook – unlike in the US where “people like all these gadgety stuff (of) gestures and voice” – as apparently the Facebook app works intermittently, likely due to selective censorship by the government.

Such user experience insights, based on the ethnography of human experience as we might call it in the UX world, are based on a process that others, in other countries and regions, should learn from. Sure, you need management commitment and some resources, but it isn’t hard to execute. What remains after that is to enable the wants and needs of those local users in a modern and compelling productized way that also makes business and technology sense, and of course to let your market know what is available.

The translation as user experience  message rings out loud and clear again. What a shame the localization industry seems as terrified of UX as ever.

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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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Translation and UX Working Together: Oracle Mobile Applications Example

Language Industry News and Events, Localization Culture, Personalization and Design

I’ve previously written a takeaway article for Multilingual decrying the lack of a clear user experience (UX) focus to the general globalization, internationalization, localization and translation industry. I’ll be revisiting this subject in the magazine later this year. Have things changed? Why is it important anyway? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out!

But here is one great example of translation and UX professionals working together in a win-win situation. Pleased to say that I was the one to initiate this (humility Ultan, please) co-operation. The Oracle Applications Mobile User Experience team and the Oracle Worldwide Product Translation Group (WPTG) language specialists recently worked together on ethnographic research into mobile workers in Europe (Sweden in this case).

Brent White of the Oracle  Mobile UX team takes notes as ethnography participant Capri Norrman uses mobile technology to work in Stockholm.

Brent White of the Oracle Mobile UX team takes notes as ethnography participant Capri Norrman uses mobile technology to work in Stockholm. Pic credit: Oracle Applications UX. The Oracle UX team acknowledges Capri's kind permission to use this image.

The UX side benefitted from the local language specialist’s language, market insight and cultural knowledge and WPTG benefitted from advance knowledge of our design thinking and direction so that translation effort resources and materials can be readied in advance.

So, true context of use for everyone up front.

You can read more about this global co-operation on my Oracle Not Lost in Translation blog.

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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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Ethnography in User Experience, the African Angle

Blogos, Language in Business, Localization Culture

I get to advise on global user experience (UX) stuff for Oracle applications, so I am always on the lookout for research opportunities in local markets and for information that might lead us there.

The Everyone Speaks Text Message article in the New York Times (a surprisingly great source of articles on translation, language and cultural issues, by the way) is very revealing about the importance of knowing local users and how they use their technology in work and everyday life: their user experience, if you like.

N'Ko script image available from WikiPedia. Public domain.

Sure, that’s one great message there about how technology (and conventions such as Unicode) is helping the N’Ko language thrive, but read on and you come across information about how that technology needs to be designed to take into account other local usage factors:

Dabo says it’s possible to build a cheap cellphone with N’Ko as its language, a camera and slots for two SIM cards — a necessity in Africa, where reception is often spotty.

From a UX perspective, nothing can beat researching a local market like getting out there and living and working with real users for a while and understanding the context of use, and mobile phone-based usage is no different: ethnography.

For example, did you know that M-Pesa (pesa is Swahili for money), a mobile money transfer app that made the mobile money market in Kenya so exciting and innovative, is now the most used app in the world, with 200 transactions per second? You can read more about mobile ethnographic methodology done by Oracle on the Usable Apps website.

With over 620 million mobile connections as of September 2011, Africa has overtaken Latin America to become the second largest mobile market in the world, after Asia. Mobile usage in Africa has important developmental consequences too, and mobile computing reflects that. Check out iCow for example.  But that’s not all.  Just as accessibility requirements make life better for everyone so too can the needs of developing markets result in user experience improvements in more fortunate regions. M-Pesa in this case making mobile payments–through Near Field Communication (NFC)–seem all the more natural.

We must be wary of treating Africa as one homogenous economic market too, as this excellent GMS World report illustrates, remembering the range of languages and complex political and cultural dynamics at work there.

On a UX level, is no single user profile for mobile phones and apps in Africa anymore than there is in any other region either. For some interesting mobile personas for the region, and the requirements for the phones themselves, see the excellent Foolproof UX report Mobile and Africa: Are Smartphones Really Smart? by Souleymane Camara.

Said it before, but we don’t hear enough about the need for UX in our industry, or about cultural, localization or translation (or indeed UX) issues in Africa.  Our loss. Mobile phone usage and how it is revolutionizing lives in Africa is one of the big stories for 2011 (and 2012).

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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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