By Elizabeth Chesters
Being a UX researcher requires us to step out of our comfort zones. My area of research in particular is around accessibility for those from different cultures. This is often unconsidered in a world where the Western ways reign over the Internet and even banking regulations. Did you know you can’t have any non-unicode characters on your credit card information?
The Internet is a great resource and does a magnificent job in connecting the world. However recently speaking with a fellow UXer from Nigeria, it became apparent just how disconnected our two worlds are.
Let’s start with search engines
Let’s face it, the majority of us start our research through our old time pal Google. Through our years of searching, Google has got to know us pretty well. Our habits, our patterns and maybe even a secret or two. The more we use it, the more it tailors our searches to us. Google also changes information based on our location.
This can be a good thing considering how many results there are for a search and it means we find what we want quicker. On the other hand when we’re trying to break out of our comfort zone and dig deep, we want to challenge our biases as much as possible.
It’s time to break out of your circle and ditch the personalisations.
Firstly, try using a different search engine. DuckDuckGo is another search engine, which emphasises protecting searchers’ privacy and avoids the filter bubble of personalised results. It may seem strange at first, because it may look like it’s not giving you the results you were after. But that’s the point. Our bias will never leave us but we have to acknowledge that it isn’t the entire story.
Secondly, depending on the nature of your research try to use Google in a different language. For example if you’re building a site which is used in Spain, why not try using Google.es? UX tips and tricks for Spanish users are a lot more helpful than those in English speaking community. Google Translate will then translates the articles, meaning you don’t have to learn every language you come across.
Get to know people
The best step you can take in UX is to talk to your users. It also helps to get out there, to physically challenge your comfort zone. Did you know there’s a UX meetup for specifically Czech and Slovak speakers? Get to know different people. Ask them questions. Be curious! That’s what being a UX researcher is all about. Challenge your opinions on things.
UX meetup for specifically Czech and Slovak speakers? Get to know different people. Ask them questions. Be curious!
The best way of finding out biases is by integrating yourself into the group you’re researching. They’ll know resources from the communities that you’re looking for.
As many cultures as there are on this wonderful planet, it’s hard to know where to begin. It’s also hard to research topics you don’t know, when you don’t know what you don’t know. Yet there are a few things which are consistently inconsistent.
Things like addresses and the formats that are expected. The UK is only one out of eleven countries to include letters in their postcodes. This is a need-to-know thing when designing those pesky forms!
Language is a massive factor. Even in England we can’t agree on a word for a style of bread…
Names are widely different. Factors like order of given and family names and the number of names a person has. For example in China, their family name is first and their given name is second. Meanwhile in latin countries they have two surnames. One is paternal and the other maternal, which are not treated as double barrelled.
Language is a massive factor. Even in England we can’t agree on a word for a style of bread, with the on-going barm v.s. roll v.s. muffin argument. (It’s barm by the way) Always question the context of how to use words. Ask for search terms in their language. It’s easier to discover “la danza de la muerte” when searching with that term, rather than “dance of the dead”.
Ask more questions, do more research and do a whole lot more reading.
About Elizabeth Chesters
Elizabeth is a client integration engineer, helping clients on board with the company’s products. She is passionate about different cultures and will ask anyone with an accent questions. In her spare time she loves to mentor and is running the UK’s first official Codecademy meet-up. Don’t forget to catch up Elizabeth on Twitter and Linkedin.