Tag: user experience (UX)

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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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Conversational UI Language Design at LocWorld35

Language in Business, Language in the News, Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) team member (and Microsoft Alum) Karen Scipi (@karenscipi) presented on the subject of Conversational UI in the Enterprise at #LocWorld35 Silicon Valley. Karen covered the central importance of  language design for chatbots and other conversational user interfaces (CUIs) for global work use cases.

Karen Scipi presenting on Conversational UIs in the Enterprise at Localization World in Silicon Valley 2017 (Image credit: Olga)

Karen Scipi presenting on Conversational UIs in the Enterprise at Localization World in Silicon Valley 2017 (Image credit: Olga)

Karen even developed two chatbot integrations for Slack introducing her topic. One was in English, the other was in Italian.

Italian LocWorld Chatbot Conversation Example

Italian LocWorld Chatbot Conversation Example (Source: Karen Scipi)

What’s a Conversational UI?

Chatbots and the alike are a very hot topic, wrapped up in the artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP), and robotics part of technology’s evolution. However, user experience design insight and an empathy for how people interact with each other through technology in work, at play, or in everyday life makes the difference when creating a great user experience in any language.What could be more 'natural' than talking to a computer? Click To Tweet

CUI means we moved from a “user”-centric concept of design to a human-centric one. After all, what could be more “natural” that talking to a computer? Both humans and computers “converse” in dialog, and it’s the language design knowledge for such a conversation that’s critical to delivering a natural, human-like interaction between the two.

Examples of CUIs include Facebook Messenger, Slack bots, TelegramAmazon Echo and Alexa devices, and so on. Interaction can be via voice, SMS messaging, typing text on a keyboard, and so on.

In the enterprise there are a broad range of considerations and stakeholders that localization and UX pros must to consider. Fundamentally though, enterprise CUIs are about increasing participation in the user experience of work, making things simpler.

 

Oracle Conversational UI image showing the interaction and participation of humans and the cloud - in any language! (Source: OAUX)

Oracle Conversational UI image showing the interaction and participation of humans and the cloud – in any language! (Source: OAUX)

Localization of Conversational UIs

To an extent, the localization or language part of the CUI interaction is determined by the NLP support of the chatbot or other platform used: what languages it supports, how good the AI and ML parts are, and so on. However, language skills are at the heart of the conversational UI design, whether it’s composing that  user storyline for design flows or creating the prompts and messages seen by the human involved.

This kind of communication skill is much in-demand: It is a special type of talent: a mix of technical writing, film script or creative writing, transcreation, and interpreting. It’s a domain insight that gets right down to the nitty-gritty of replicating and handling how humans really speak and write: slang, errors, typos, warts and all. CUI language designers must even decide how emoji and personality can or should be localized in different versions of a chatbot.

Where’s the Conversation Headed?

The conversational UI market is growing globally as messenger apps take over. Localization and language pros cannot ignore the conversational UI space.

Karen will be speaking next at the Seattle Localization User Group (SLUG) in December (2017) about Conversational UIs in the Enterprise.Localization and language pros cannot ignore the conversational UI space. Click To Tweet

 

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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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Language at the ❤ of Conversational Interfaces

Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

A Chat About Language and UI

Robotspeak in San Francisco. A great store, but it’s also exactly how conversational interfaces should NOT sound: like a robot. Conversational interfaces offer a natural way to deal with a multitude of digital asks and tasks and the crafting of language is critical to that intent. (Image by Ultan Ó Broin)

Robotspeak in San Francisco. A great store, but it’s also exactly how conversational interfaces should NOT sound: like a robot. Conversational interfaces offer a natural way to deal with a multitude of digital asks and tasks and the crafting of language is critical to that intent. (Image by Ultan Ó Broin)

Chatbots and conversational interfaces are all the rage right with startups, VCs, innovators and users alike. Messenger apps have surpassed social media in terms of popularity and we’re witnessing the awesome agency of chatbots such as KLM Messenger as a natural way for users to perform a huge range of digital asks and tasks without the need for special devices or apps.

Going Global With Conversational Interfaces

But what are the localization and translation aspects to chatbots and conversational computing?

To a large extent, the natural language processing (NLP) backend capabilities of the bot or messaging platform determine much of the linguistic side of the user experience (UX). However, there are plenty of other considerations for internationalization and localization people to concern themselves with, not least educating designers and developers in globalization best practices.

Check out this super article “Do you want your chatbot converse in foreign languages? My learnings from bot devs” by Artem Nedrya for a start.

It is also very clear that there is a huge role for the conversational UI writer in the design and creation of conversational interfaces. An understanding of language, its style, tone, grammar, and so on, is central to making or breaking a conversational interface UX but also to ensuring that any content created is localizable and makes sense to a local user.

Here’s an article I wrote for Chatbots Magazine that covers the topic of language and chatbot UX that also touches the translation space. I hope you find my thoughts in “Writing Skills: At the ❤️ Of Chatbot UX Design” useful.

Conversational UI is dependent on bot and messenger platform NLP capability but human language skills are still definitely at the core of conversational UI design. (Image by Ultan Ó Broin)

Conversational UI is dependent on bot and messenger platform NLP capability. But human language skills are still definitely at the core of conversational UI design. (Image by Ultan Ó Broin)

Don’t be surprised if you see the topics of chatbots and conversational interfaces coming up on the agendas of localization conferences and in publications a lot more!

As ever, for a conversation on this blog post, find the comments box!

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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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Conversational User Experience: Language Learning with Duolingo

Language, Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

I’ve previously written for MultiLingual about the language learning app Duolingo. I recall Duolingo’s launch and remarking how it was yet another #haterzgonnahate moment for the language industry critics out there. They’ve been proven wrong again. Nothing new there with the blowhards. Just like with their Google Translate criticisms they don’t get it that the alternative is not a human professional translator charging users for money for top quality grammar, terms and style, but no language option at all.

I also wrote about how my own national language, Irish (Gaeilge), is doing so well on the platform and receiving such high-level recognition.

Personally speaking, Duolingo is an ideal way for me to “get my ear in” before I travel abroad somewhere. I’m constantly adding languages into my learning mix

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Exploring Italian on Duolingo. I think I will wait until I get a bit more fluent before sharing my skills on LinkedIn, but I like it! Social is a key part of the Duolingo experience.

Chatting About User Experience

Duolingo takes advantage of voice-enabled devices of course, although it can be used without that feature. I mostly use Duolingo on my laptop and smart phone (language options in beta are not available on mobile), and have even tried it on Google Glass!

Duolingo’s got it all going on really from a UX perspective. It’s free, fun, global, local, social, all about mobility from the cloud, includes gamification, is powered by the crowd, packs voice interaction, and now bots too. A bot is ideal for language learning conversational interaction, of course (though the bot feature is not available in every Duolingo language option).

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A Duolingo bot can be unlocked to practice your language skills “for real” after a certain level. 

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Chatbots are an ideal way to engage with a languagelearning app, delivering a conversational UI for conversational solutions. Of course, text input and gestural interactions are also available.

The People Have Spoken

Duolingo is being used by so many people and for so many things! I know people who use it to learn French, German, Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese, Irish, Romanian, and more. This might be out of love of learning new languages, getting the hang of some phrases in advance of foreign travel, strengthening the kids’ school language learning, just wanting to converse with others in their own language on a more casual basis, or simply out of plain old curiosity.

For many, Duolingo is the “only game” in town.

This TED talk with Luis von Ahn about large-scale online collaboration will help you get your head around what Duolingo is about. But, honestly, the best way to experience Duolingo is to … start that conversation yourself Go for it!

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Duolingo explains as you learn: Noun gender in Spanish is covered  as you use your own voice on a smartphone, for example.

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Hey kids, you talkin’ to me? Italian lesson with voice input enabled.

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More carrot than stick with the Irish lesson. There’s a change! Listen and then drag and drop the words to translate. Nice!

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Activity stream showing my Duolingo progress.

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Hey You! Your friendly Duo reminder on the smartphone!

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Bring the Bitterballen. Learning with others can be fun too. Duolingo lets you try group learning as well as learning on your own.

Your Duolingo Conversation Is Here

If you’ve used Duolingo, I’d love to hear about the experience: the why, how and what you felt about it. The comments box is open for your conversation.

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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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Kudos and Comhghairdeas* to Duolingo’s Irish Language Volunteers

Language, Language in the News, Translation Technology

The Irish President (Uachtarán Na hEireann) Michael D. Higgins (Micheál D Ó hUigínn) (@PresidentIRL) has publicly recognized seven volunteers for their work in building up the Irish language (Gaeilge) version of the crowd-sourced, languagelearning social app Duolingo (@duolingo).

Duolingo on Twitter

Duolingo on Twitter

This is first time I’ve read about a head of state doing something like this in the language space, although volunteerism is something that’s often acknowledged publicly by officialdom.

Indeed, it is well-deserved recognition for these Duolingo volunteers given the results.

Duolingo Irish in the Top Ten

Over the past two years, over 2.3 million people had downloaded the language app and selected Irish as the language they wanted to learn. This means that Irish is in the top 10 most popular languages offered by Duolingo.

Over 2.3 million users have selected Irish as the language they want to learn on Duolingo

Over 2.3 million Duolingo users have selected Irish as the language they want to learn

About 75% of these Irish language users are outside of Ireland, and the majority of new learners are located in the United States.

President Higgins commended the volunteers’ efforts at the official residence of the President, Áras an Uachtaráin, saying that their contribution was “an act of both national and global citizenship”.

The President also took this opportunity to comment on the status of the Irish language generally and about Government plans for the language.

Well done to Duolingo and to its volunteers in Ireland, and indeed everywhere!

The Duolingo Lessons for Other Languages

The Journal.ie quotes Oisín Ó Doinn, one of the volunteers, who was clearly delighted so many are enjoying the benefits of the contributions made to the Irish language lessons on Duolingo:

“The fact that an average of 3,000 people a day have begun using the Duolingo Irish course shows the massive worldwide interest in our native language and makes all the hard work we put in worthwhile.”

Aodhán Ó Deá (@aodhanodea) of Conradh na Gaeilge (@CnaG) was also quoted by the Journal.ie about Irish language proficiency and the reasons behind it. Some of his remarks will resonate with many Irish people:

“The thing I hear again and again from people is ‘I’d love to learn the language’, and I wish I learned it in school’.

So, despite all the negativity we hear about the Irish language, particularly from within Ireland, Duolingo’s success with their Irish language version again proves that not only do people want to try and master conversational Irish but that when the digital user experience (UX) of language learning suits their world, and it is made easy and is fun, they will give it an honest shot and try to learn.

Duolingo Irish language lesson in action

Duolingo Irish language lesson in action

Again it is also clear how smart use of technology and an ever-improving UX can benefit the health of “minor” languages.

Duolingo language learning options. Duolingo also offers gamfication and social ventures to the experience of learning Irish.

Duolingo language learning options. Duolingo also offers gamfication and social features to the experience of learning Irish.

It will be interesting to see how the Duolingo impact plays out, if at all, in the responses to questions about Irish language usage in the next Irish census!

Other languages, please take note!

The Irish President's speech to Duolingo's Irish volunteers and about the Irish language generally is on SoundCloud

The Irish President’s speech about Duolingo’s Irish volunteers, and about the state of the Irish language generally is on SoundCloud.

You can listen to the Irish President’s Áras an Uachtaráin speech about Duolingo’s Irish volunteers and about the Irish language on SoundCloud.

  • Congratulations (in Irish).
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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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Watch Your Audience: Cultural Nuances for WearableTech Whisperers

Localization Culture, Personalization and Design

I was demoing some smartwatch user experience in Central Europe recently and a couple of older members of the audience remarked that I reminded them of old-style Soviet soldiers.

I have a habit of wearing multiple smartwatches.

Smartwatch overload. Evokes memories in certain locales. #culturalsensitivity #fail

Smartwatch overload. Evokes memories in certain locales. #culturalsensitivity #fail

I get it now.

From now on I will only wear one smartwatch at a time in that locale.

Lesson learned: Know the history and culture of your audience!

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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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User Experience Takeaways: Still Hungry for Localization Change

Blogos, Localization Culture, Personalization and Design, Translation

Readers of MultiLingual magazine will know about the “Takeaway” section towards the back of the publication. It’s a kind of bully pulpit-meets-12 Step meeting “burning desire” platform, along the lines of U.S. public radio station KQED’s Perspectives program.

I have written a few MultiLingual “Takeaways”, and made other contributions, on user experience-related topics that frankly do my head in: Why the Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, and Translation (GILT) industry appears to run scared of user experience, or indeed are user experience and the GILT worlds even compatible in terms of coming up with a common language they should be trying to speak, for example.

Head. Stone wall. Bashing head off.

Maybe.

So, I am delighted to say that someone, namely Lynne Bowker of the University of Ottawa, Canada, has been paying attention to my words. Lynne has researched and written a paper published in Localisation Focus called “Translatability and User eXperience: Compatible or in Conflict?”, citing my MultiLingual sources, amongst others!

Localisation Focus: Localization and User Experience: Are they Compatible?

Localisation Focus:  Lynne Bowker explores translatability and user experience. Are they compatible?

Lynne has also spoken about the subject at various events. Watch out for other places where this hot topic might surface and join in the debate!

Nice.

I am always delighted to cause trouble inspire others to take an argument further for the benefit of the community. The whole point of “Takeaway” really.

Thank you, Lynne.

And, if you have an idea for the “Takeaway” section of MultiLingual, contact the editor.

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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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Visual Composer makes Citizen Developer a Citoyen du Monde

Personalization and Design

Interesting to see that Facebook has announced the launch of a multilingual composer tool that enables users to post their status updates in different languages so that their friends and followers can see the update in only their preferred language. 

This notion of composers is not new, of course. They’ve been around for a while and often encountered in the e-commerce and SaaS spaceAmazon lets sellers create, customize, and brand their own online stores for example. What is interesting from a user experience perspective is that composers are part of the emergence of a global citizen developer role, a role that now finds itself responsible for tailoring the language in the UI of cloud applications.

Oracle SaaS Release 10 in Dutch. Language changes can be made with a visual composer tool.

Oracle SaaS Release 10 in Dutch. Language changes can be made with a visual composer tool.

Oracle SaaS Release 10 in Dutch. Language changes can be made with composer tools.

The term citizen developer itself presents some difficulty and in many ways is a contradiction in terms. Nobody seriously expects governments, multinational corporations, and bodies of that nature to hand over their implementation or SaaS customization to “citizens” with basic “Hello, World” programming chops.

Instead, think of citizen developers as more about the empowerment of software owners themselves to make their own modifications, be they branding, extensions, localisation, or translation changes. It’s all about enabling customers to take real ownership of their cloud software, without resorting to making source code changes or needing any real software development skills. It’s a low-code or no-code approach, if you like. In other words, citizen development abstracts away the complexity of programming and integration so that user experience can be tailored to your heart’s desire as if by magic. The tool du jour for the job of making your own digital world? Composers. The very word has an element of artistry to it.

Composers are more vital tools than ever now with the advent of SaaS, be they in the hands of the customers, implementation partners, user experience specialists, or design consultancies who don’t usually have, or need, deep-drive software development skills yet know what the desired result should be.

Sandbox-based composers enable Oracle partners, for example, to make SaaS user experience changes quickly and safely for customers, freeing up their own development resources for more critical tasks. Given that 80% of enterprise software applications require customization of some sort, composers are a key part of the partner world’s implementation and maintenance toolkit.

In the multilingual enterprise space, for example, a partner might be asked by a customer to make language changes across their suite of applications quickly and securely, ensuring that the changes are made in just the right places. That’s what’s happened in one case where Oracle PartnerNetwork member and UX champ central Certus Solutions was asked to change the out of the box German translation for performance to another word shown in Oracle’s simplified UI for SaaS. The customer wanted to use the English word instead. Language is a critical part of the UX; like everything else it must be designed.

German Simplified UI customization done using a visual cloud composer

German Simplified UI customization done using a visual cloud composer

If you need the word Performance for your user experience; then so be it! German simplified UI SaaS customization by Certus Solutions (now Accenture) using a visual composer tool.

Other examples might be the desire to change all those U.S. English spellings to the U.K. variant; or to make changes in language that reflect how customers actually structure and run their business. For example, employee might be changed to partner. The label My Team is often changed to My Department, a language change that doesn’t even require a composer right away but can be done at the personalization level with just a click and overtype if you have the right security settings! Some previous translations for the word worker have proven problematic in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, and French, requiring modification for certain customers (let’s not go there). There are lots of examples where composers could be used to change the language of an application or service.

Autumn? Fall? Who cares! Change the language in the SaaS simplified UI easily with a sandbox-safe visual composer.Autumn? Fall? Who cares! Change the language in the SaaS simplified UI easily with a sandbox-safe visual composer.

What is of interest is that very few of these composer tools use localization industry standard procedures or formats and yet seem the better for it. For example, although language changes are made directly into resource bundles or XLIFF files, they are done so at run-time, eliminating context problems. Composer tools rarely have any complex terminology look-up capability, offer TBX support, have language QA features other than spell checkers, and nor do they use translation memory or support TMX. Why not? Well, these things aren’t needed by customers or partners right now and probably would just complicate things.

Perhaps as composers evolve this kind of “traditional translation” functionality might appear. But only if the customers and partners demand it.

Allowing business users to make a language change themselves is more cost-effective, faster, and more secure solution than doing a retranslation or taking a UX hit by deciding to leave the language as is. The result is a better customer experience, faster.

Will translators find themselves out of a job as a result?

Unlikely.

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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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“Hello. Is it .ME You’re Looking For?” L10n Storytelling for Coders

Personalization and Design

Using plain language and reflecting the user’s world are long-established tenets of software user experience (UX). These days we might talk more about context and storytelling as part of our UX communications strategy than usability heuristics, but the message is the same: talk to your users in way that relates to them.

So, I really love this article by Paul Tomkiel (@paul_tomkiel) of CodeL10n.comFirst, Middle, Last – Why Not Full Name?