Callahan, E. (2005). Interface design and culture. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 39(1), 255-310. doi:10.1002/aris.1440390114
[This paper is a comprehensive literature review and considers the various aspects of human-computer interface design as it relates to human culture.]
[Section headings in this paper:
- Introduction ... 257
- Culture ... 258
- Definition of culture; ... 258
- Methodological issues in cultural research ... 263
- Interface design ... 266
- Cultural interface design solutions; ... 266
- Human factors in interface design ... 268
- Schemata and mental models ... 268
- Perception and reasoning in interaction process ... 271
- The use of language at the interface ... 271
- Translation issues; ... 271
- Coding issues; ... 274
- Multiple languages of the web; ... 275
- Multilingual CMC accessed through the web; ... 279
- Languages--future research agenda ... 280
- Graphical elements of the interface: ... 281
- Cultural aesthetics; ... 281
- Icons; ... 282
- Colors; ... 284
- Graphical elements--future research agenda ... 285
- The structuring and content of information: ... 286
- Formats; ... 286
- Layout and content ... 287
- Interface design process: ... 291
- Interface design lifecycle; ... 291
- Cultural dimensions of usability ... 292
- Usability measuring techniques ... 294
- Usability apparatus ... 295
- Usability procedure ... 295
- Conclusions ... 297
- Summary ... 297
- Implications ... 297
- Research questions revisited ... 300
- Future research agenda ... 301
- References ... 303
[Heading: "Introduction" (p 257)]
“… The chapter will examine cultural influences in both the design process and in the resulting product, the computer interface.” (p 258)
[Heading: "Culture" (p 258)]
[Heading: "Definition of culture" (p 258)]
“It seems that the term culture is widely understood. Operationalizing the construct of culture, however, results in multiple descriptions, some of which contradict one another.” (p 258)
[Culture (learned), personality (inherited and learned), human nature (inherited). ...]
“The pyramid model, introduced by the Dutch cultural anthropologist Hofstede (1997), positions culture (understood as learned. not inherited, characteristics common to a specific group or category of people) midway between personality specific to an individual (inherited and learned) and human nature (inherited) common to all human beings. The borderlines between personality and culture and culture and human nature are blurred. This model is especially useful in HCI research because it encompasses individual differences among users as well as similarities based on universal, inherited characteristics.” (p 260)
[Certain aspects of culture are more difficult to explain and understand ...]
“Other factors such as speech conventions, mental models, and metaphors are more difficult to grasp.” (p 260)
[Points to definition by Barber and Badre (1998) that allows for practical use of the notion of culture when discussing the web. (p 261)]
“Our use of the term is not intended to be indicative of all the nuances and properties frequently implied by the term, but rather to permit discourse about the features that distinguish one country or region of the world from another in the electronic medium of the Web. (Barber & Badre, 1998, Introduction, ¶ 2)” (p 261)
“For present purposes, culture can be understood as a complex construct encapsulating shared values, group behavioral patterns, mental models, and communication styles.” (p 261)
[Heading: "Methodological issues in cultural research" (p 263)]
“Users may belong simultaneously to multiple cultures, and each of them may influence preferences and behavior.” (p 263)
“Is the adaptation of interfaces for local markets (localization) necessary for improving understanding and showing cultural sensitivity or should one develop standardized solutions understood by an international audience?” (p 264)
“It is important, for example, to provide the definition of culture used in a particular study, to delineate membership in the cultural group(s) under investigation, to provide some historical background on the culture studied, and to acknowledge the limitations of the study.” (p 264)
[Three types of bias according to Van de Vijver and Leung (1997b) ... "construct bias," "method bias," "item bias." (p 264-265)]
[Discussion of various kinds of bias and how to eliminate them. (p 265)]
[Heading: "Interface design" (p 266)]
[Heading: "Cultural interface design solutions" (p 266)]
“An interface is commonly defined as a point of interaction or communication between a user and a computer system.” (p 266)
[Heading: "Schemata and mental models" (p 268)]
“In the field of human-computer interaction, user understanding of computer interfaces is commonly explained on the basis of schemata and mental models.” (p 268)
“According to Taylor and Crocker (1981, as cited by Nishida, Hammer, & Wiseman, 1998) schemata can be classified into five groups: person schemata, which contain knowledge about different types of people; self-schemata, which contain knowledge about ourselves; role schemata, which characterize knowledge about social roles; event schemata, which relate to predictable sequences of events; and content free schemata, which contain information about processing rules.” (p 268)
[Schema "accretion," "tuning," "restructuring," and "induction." (p 268)]
“Culturally dependent schemata were labeled by D’Andrade (1981, 1989) as cultural schemata — socially shared ways in which cultural groups organize their behavior.” (p 269)
[Heading: "Human factors in interface design" (p 268)]
“Schemata play an important role in intercultural communication.” (p 269)
“Reeves and Nass (1996), in their book Media Equation, argue that people do not treat computers as tools but rather as social actors and that they expect the interaction with the computer to follow the schemata of interaction with persons.” (p 270)
“The difference between schemata and mental models is that mental models are dynamic, whereas schemata are relatively fixed. Mental models are dynamically constructed based on users’ schemata (Eberts, 1995). Successful interaction depends strongly on the extent to which the user’s mental model of the system matches the designer’s conceptual model of the system.” (p 270)
[Heading: "Perception and reasoning in interaction process" (p 271)]
“Ito and Nakakoji (1996) … According to the authors, interaction happens in two modes: the listening mode, when the user is presented with the computer’s reaction and the speaking mode, in which the user gives instructions to the interface.” (p 271)
“In the semantic association phase, the user, based on previously created schemata, associates meaning with text and graphics. Metaphors are decoded on this level, so cultural differences play a larger role. … The reasoning phase is most affected by culture, because most cognitive reasoning depends on social norms and background culture.” (p 271)
“In the speaking mode, users convey their intentions to the computer. In the affordance perception phase, users identify what they can do with presentations displayed by the system. The next phase, applicability check, requires users to validate the actions they are going to take.” (p 271)
“In languages where grammatical rules call for specifying the object before the action (as in Japanese), users will look for the object first and then perform the action. In languages with the opposite word order, the action may be chosen first.” (p 271)
[Heading: "The use of language at the interface" (p 271)]
[Heading: "Translation issues" (p 271)]
“The issue of cross-cultural pragmatics is widely discussed in the linguistics literature (cf. Wierzbicka, 1991).” (p 273)
[Heading: "Coding issues" (p 274)]
[Heading: "Multiple languages of the web" (p 275)]
“… Kukulska-Hulme (2000) has pointed out, difficulties are caused primarily because the words in the interface are presented without context …” (p 277)
“Simplified English was developed by the Association Europeenne des Constructeurs des Material Aerospatial (European Association of Aerospace Industries-ECMA) because of problems with English language manuals (Mills & Caldwell, 1997).” (p 278)
[Heading: "Multilingual CMC accessed through the web" (p 279)]
“Computer-mediated communication (CMC) and computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) systems for culturally diverse users who work either in real time or asynchronously pose the biggest challenge for interface designers (Bourges-Waldegg, 1999) …” (p 279-280)
[Heading: "Languages--future research agenda" (p 280)]
[Heading: "Graphical elements of the interface" (p 281)]
[Heading: "Cultural aesthetics" (p 281)]
“In research studies conducted by Masuda and Nisbett (2001), participants were shown an animated aquatic scene in which one large fish swam among small fish and other underwater creatures. The participants were asked to describe what they saw. American subjects tended to concentrate on the big fish, whereas Japanese participants began by describing the background. Japanese subjects made about 70 percent more statements about the background than their American counterparts and twice as many statements about the relationships between animate and inanimate objects.” (p 281)
[Heading: "Icons" (p 282)]
[Heading: "Colors" (p 284)]
[Heading: "Graphical elements--future research agenda" (p 285)]
[Heading: "The structuring and content of information" (p 286)]
[Heading: "Formats" (p 286)]
[Heading: "Layout and content" (p 287)]
“These layout solutions represent browse vs. focus preferences in information reception, and are based on culturally dependent schemata of information storage and display. Dormann and Chisalita (2002) distinguished ‘visual’ (based on graphics) from ‘index’ (link based) sites.” (p 287)
[Hofstede's work and its influence on web design research is discussed. (p 288-291)]
“Walton, Vukovic’, and Marsden (2002) questioned whether the Western hierarchical tree, present in file strnctures, databases, and Web design, is suitable for systems designed for South African users. Their study suggested that although South African students did not have problems navigating the tree, its hierarchical meaning caused difficulties.” (p 288)
“They did not have a concept of publishing forms, nor were the subject headings representative of the way information would be organized in Maori culture.” (p 288)
“According to Marcus and Gould (2000), uncertainty avoidance also plays a large role in Web site structure. … More systematic study in this area would help to identify culture type-specific interface elements.” (p 290)
[Heading: "Interface design process" (p 291)]
[Heading: "Interface design lifecycle" (p 291)]
“What these models have in common is highlighting the importance of involving potential users in most of the design substeps to ensure that users’ mental models of the interface are reflected in the design.” (p 291-292)
“Nielsen (1990, p. 39) … ‘One cannot trust the original usability work on the user interface to necessarily have produced a design which will be equally usable around the world.’” (p 292)
[Heading: "Cultural dimensions of usability" (p 292)]
“As regards the usability of an interface developed or adapted for another culture, differences in time perception may affect the interpretation of usability measurements. Anthropologists describe two concepts of time: monochronic (Mtime) and polychronic (P-time) (Hall, 1990). Monochronic cultures view time as a linear dimension, along which events take place one at a time, in ordered, calculated fashion. … Cultures with a polychronic conception (Mediterranean, Latin American, and Arab countries) tend to perform multiple tasks simultaneously.” (p 293)
[Heading: "Usability measuring techniques" (p 294)]
[Type I and Type II errors? -- oki ...]
“Herman (1996) suggests that there may also be inconsistencies between objective usability evaluation results (performance measures) and subjective evaluation results (questionnaires and interviews), that are due to cultura1lbehavioral characteristics of the users. However, Yeo’s (2000) studies, in which he compared positive and negative comments in think-out-loud protocols (objective measures) with a System Usability Scale — a questionnaire — and interviews (subjective measures), showed different results.” (p 294)
[Heading: "Usability apparatus" (p 295)]
“Material used for usability studies (such as questionnaires) has to be adjusted to account for cultural differences, and results should be interpreted with caution. … avoided negative … subjects’ feelings … translated …” (p 295)
[Heading: "Usability procedure" (p 295)]
“Beu et al. (2000) defined several barriers in focus groups conducted in cultures that can also influence other subjective methods of information gathering …” (p 296)
[Heading: "Conclusions" (p 297)]
[Heading: "Summary" (p 297)]
“Cultural differences are manifested on the textual level through written language formats (character set, direction, etc.), vocabulary (use of pre-existing words to capture a computer function or invention of new words), and systems for keeping time and dates, which involve coding and translation. … However, cultural differences go beyond system features and aesthetic preferences. To these differences should be added cognitive and cultural aspects such as conceptual models of culturally constructed schemata, differences in perception of time, and preference for efficiency or effectiveness. Last but not least, cultural differences may be evident not only during user interaction with the computer, but also in the user data-gathering phase of the interface design lifecycle and/or usability testing.” (p 297)
[Heading: "Implications" (p 297)]
“To be able to use the word processing program, Western users had to add some facts to their existing typewriter schema (schema accretion), whereas Japanese users had to create a whole new schema (schema induction).” (p 298)
[Heading: "Research questions revisited" (p 300)]
“… the social, economic, and political forces that privilege technologically advanced nations over less developed nations may shape users’ attitudes toward, and acceptance of, information technologies in ways that are beyond the control of individual designers.” (p 300)
“Do usability differences reside mainly at the level of national cultures, or do they depend on other variables such as class, gender, age, education, and expertise with technology?” (p 301)
“Within a given culture, individual differences such as physical characteristics, gender, age, social class, religion, multicultural exposure, education level, linguistic ability, expertise with technology, and task experience account for variation as well (Dillon & Watson, 1996).” (p 301)
“However, as our knowledge of cultural differences increases, it will be essential to re-evaluate our operating definition of culture and to account for other variables through multifactor studies.” (p 301)
[Heading: "Future research agenda" (p 301)]
[Heading: "References" (p 303)]
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