Design for Other Cultures

| 16 min read

It can be surprisingly difficult to create or adapt solutions to other countries and cultures. In many respects, just translating the text is the easiest part of it, since most modern development frameworks identify “resources” – menu items, messages, imagery and so on – with an arbitrary identifier and allow you to provide associated content by region.

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Copyright holder: Tommi Vainikainen _ Appearance time: 2:56 - 3:03 Copyright license and terms: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Copyright holder: Maik Meid _ Appearance time: 2:56 - 3:03 Copyright license and terms: CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons _ Link: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Norge_93.jpg

Copyright holder: Paju _ Appearance time: 2:56 - 3:03 Copyright license and terms: CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons _ Link: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kaivokselan_kaivokset_kyltti.jpg

Copyright holder: Tiia Monto _ Appearance time: 2:56 - 3:03 Copyright license and terms: CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons _ Link: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Turku_-_harbour_sign.jpg

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A point that Alan Dix makes in the clip is that you also have to be aware of how much space that text in different languages requires. He uses the example of Finnish and Swedish, as shown at the top of the lesson. But it is a very common problem for translations from English, which tends to be a very compact language.

And literal translations don’t always work, especially in the context of interactive software where menu and tab headings must be both meaningful and short. Local specialists and user testing are usually required.

Also in the clip, Alan mentions three terms related to culture:

  • Localization – the process of adapting a solution to a specific locale or culture.

  • Internationalization – designing products so that they are easier to localize. The use of resource identifiers mentioned above is an example of this.

  • Globalization – a term frequently used more generally to mean the bringing together of peoples in different parts of the world on economic, political and cultural issues. However, it is also used by some organizations as a synonym for internationalization.

References and Where to Learn More

Jonathan Walter (2019). Supporting Localization. https://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2019/02/supporting-localization.php 

Images In Order

© Maik Meid, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0 (link)

© Paju, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 (link)

© Tiia Monto, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 (link)

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