Here are three best practice tips on how to make your designs inclusive and relevant to a diverse and global audience.
“In an increasingly global world we need design that is culturally responsive.” -Senongo Akpem
1. Design for Offline Access
Internet access is something that many of us take for granted but may vary outside urban areas. For the people who don’t have or can’t afford regular access to the internet, allow for downloading content for offline use. Also prepare for latency issues by making retry/loading experiences easy.
2. Consider Varying Devices
The growing trend is for internet users to more likely use a mobile device than a desktop, or increasingly have a mobile only experience compared to a multi platform experience.
The persona of the emerging market customer is one that tends to have a lower end, older OS, on a small screen device. Due to the use of phones that may have bandwidth and performance constraints, designers need to be aware of content that may take too much time to load and not be displayed properly.
3. Don’t Forget Cultural Context
Cultures may have underlying norms and values that are unspoken. For example, individualism vs. groups. Western societies tend to value personal success over group achievement, which in turn is also associated with the need for greater self-esteem and the pursuit of personal happiness. This isn’t true of every society in the world.
Understanding the differences in users attitudes and behaviors will influence how design manifests itself in different contexts.
In addition, different cultures put their own meaning (value) to certain colors and symbols.
Certain symbols may be used as a metaphor in some cultures, which are attached to certain perspectives or concepts. And if you’ve worked with translations you are probably also aware that some things, like metaphors, can simply not be translated well. In this scenario, it may be helpful to have a diverse team or localization expert to help provide insight into such conflicts.
- LocalizationLocalizing Your Website or App for the Chinese MarketKendra Schaefer
- Global InfluencesNotes From Behind the Firewall: The State of Web Design in ChinaKendra Schaefer
Design on the internet flows across cultures whether we realize it or not. It is therefore important to understand how to design for a multi-cultural and global audience.
Communication is grounded in values and cultural norms. The goal of the designer is to maintain awareness of their audience and what in context they will experience the product. By balancing an understanding of user constraints, having an awareness of certain limitations, and remembering to think about cultural relevance, you can successfully navigate UX design for a global audience.