The concept of Cross-Cultural Usability Engineering (ccUE) now becomes very popular in the usability domain as the global trade and international competition are booming every year. As a key process in the whole product development process, more and more usability experts realize culture effects also should be carefully considered in the design of usability testing process. It is not said that the design of usability testing process must be culture oriented, but can’t be culture ignored.
Nowadays, cultures could not be singly divided to western cultures and eastern cultures. Each country has its own unique culture. Even in Europe, there are no two countries which have exactly the same cultures. And a country itself possibly has different cultures like U.S.
Each culture has its own unique characteristics, if a usability testing activities will be conducted cross different cultures, the following effect factors must be considered.
Testing Methods: it is hard to say which testing method is particularly better for which culture, but it should be careful to apply the methods and adjust them dynamically in different cultures to get the best results. A research specially on testing methods with different cultures now is ongoing.
Localization: localization of the prototype product and the testing process itself is very important. It should beyond direct translation. A bad localization will lead to more usability problems and will cover the potential more serious usability problems. It is not expected a bad designed usability testing process could detect more usability problems of the product.
Moderator &Local Institute: a native moderator is always better to conduct the testing process, to avoid potential communication caps between each others. When conducting a usability testing or evaluation in another country, finding a local institute to cooperate possibly will be very helpful and more efficient. Also the local institute will help to arrange the organizations like recruiting, equipments, testing room (usability lab), etc.
One Country is not One Culture: be careful that even one country, there are potential different cultures. When conducting a usability testing in multi-culture society, more details should be considered.
Proper usability testing methods will be the key issue of a successful cross cultural usability activity, and further research will focus on the usability methods in different culture contexts.