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UX Week 2006: Cross-Cultural Research Notes

Steve Portigal

Don't get bogged down in jargon-laden discussions about names for user research!

What Steve means:
Examining user in their own context. What are they doing and what does it mean?
Infer something. Go from data to insights. Inferential, interpretive, and synthesize. Finding connections and the researcher is the "apparatus" for creating inference. It's a subjective methodology, but that's its power.
Apply to business and design problems.

How people are doing [something]? Look for and documenting processes. What the the sequence of events and duration? Who does what and in what order? Identify what you want to want to know more about it. Why are you doing this? (Can ask in interviewing)

Who to interview? People that are involved in your activity, no longer involved in the activity, people that refuse to be involved, and people that are over-the-top involved.

Judgement: You go into environments that aren't your own and its very easy to have a judging reaction. Allow yourself to have a judgmental reaction, but don't act on it. Note it as data.

Cultural Context
What is "normal"? Look at artifacts in the culture: media, products, advertisements, street culture, trends and fads. Advertising tells our stories back to us and can show cultural norms. Normal isn't right or wrong, it's the set of background rules.

What happens when we leave our culture? Tips and Tricks.
When we're really out of our comfort zone. The backdrop (the stuff we usually ignore) is unfamiliar. We're getting a huge amount of data. We're trying to create a cultural model. The artifacts are different. It's a visceral different, we're in constant synthesis. This will be more impactful than outsourcing the research to a local firm.


Finding participants
Partner with a firm in the destination country. Partner with a local firm with connections or offices in the destination country. Use social networks. Make sure you localize your screening criteria! Are the things we're thinking about to find these people appropriate?

Logistics and Location
Allow a day in your schedule to get acclimated and a day for "culture loading." Stay a day later and do the processing there in the place. More great stuff happens. Take advantage of the location. Take pictures, collect crap on the street, local newspaper. Figure out what you'll use it for later. Be aware of themes that arise.

Interviewing in Another Culture
Be the humble outsider and that will provide you with dialog. People will meet you halfway. You are naive, so dumb questions are expected.

Don't call it translation! get referrals and hang onto folks you like. Have them be a partner, get them involved in the project. Use them to help avoid breaking cultural rules. Interpretation creates this entertaining "language soup" between interviewer, respondent, and interpreter. Where do you make eye contact? Don't ask the interpreter the follow-up question!

Cultural Context
When we leave our culture, we also lose some of our ability to describe things like tastes. "Mundane" observations can reveal crucial cultural needs.

There is an interesting tension between that fact that people are the same where ever you go, but also completely different. Looking outside ourselves is a provocative way to learn about ourselves.

Originally posted at Wednesday, August 16, 2006 | Comments (0)

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UX Week 2006: Facilitating Collaboration Notes
Ryan Freitas, Adaptive Path Isn't it enough to set up basecamp? Nope, coordination isn't collaboration. Collaboration is about fostering ideas, intentions, and interests. What we actually use to collaborate: email, secret IM name, mobile number, del.icio.us tags, blog, bloglines OPML,... ...

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