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Universal Usability

Serving older adults

• AARP site
• AARP slide show (2 shows on older users and
the internet; older users a usability)
• Assessment of people’s needs, preferences
• Determining potential users
• Design of sites, software
• Evaluation of usability of sites, software
• Data collecting and testing methods
• Interpretation of results
• Recommendations
Hofstede’s cultural dimensions
(much quoted, tho probably not very valid)

• Long-term vs. short-term orientation

• Femininity vs. masculinity
• Power-distance
• Collectivism vs. individualism
• Uncertainty avoidance
Internationalization issues
• Some relevant differences
– Language
• Including variations, e.g.
– American English, British English
– Spanish as it’s spoken in various parts of the world,
including among different groups within the U.S.
• Straight translation often insufficient
– Culture – broad placeholder representing many differences,
• What’s rude, offensive
• Experience, expectations
• Technology
• Taste, aesthetics
• Preferred functionality
• Applies not just across countries but within countries
– E.g., serving US residents whose primary language is Spanish
Hofstede’s cultural dimensions I

• Long-term vs. short-term orientation. Long-term

emphasizes practice and practical value. Short-term focus their
content on truth and the certainty of beliefs.
• Femininity vs. masculinity. gender roles, not physical
characteristics. High-femininity countries blur the lines between
gender roles, while high-masculinity countries display traditional
role expectations.
– High-masculinity countries respond to Web sites that speak directly
to traditional gender roles.
Hhigh-masculinity: Japan, Low-masculinity: Sweden.
• Power-distance. differences in people accept or expect access
to power.
– A a high power-distance country, like Malaysia, displays customers
and average citizens less prominently. Authority roles are enforced
by such images as official certification logos.
– A low power-distance country would emphasize equality among
social and age groupings.
Hofstede’s cultural dimensions II
• Collectivism vs. individualism.
– Collectivism: people integrated into strong groups that protect
them in exchange for unbridled loyalty.
– Individualism: a person’s strong sense of self and that of his or her
immediate blood relations.
– A collectivist country would show groups of people in images,
– Individualistic countries would most likely find site content and
images with a single person accomplishing a challenge more
appealing. The United States is an example of an individualistic
• Uncertainty avoidance. Tolerance for ambiguity.
– High uncertainty-avoidance countries would respond better to a
simple manner of navigation.
– A low uncertainty-avoidance country would prefere a site with
complex navigation with a multitude of link choices.
– An example of a high uncertainty-avoidance country would be
Belgium; a low uncertainty-avoidance country would be Singapore

» Source: Multilingual.com
Critiquing a summary of East/West differences:
'The Geography of Thought': East Brain, West Brain
By Sherry Ortner
• Methodology: The idea that by taking individuals and putting them in
rooms to do strange tasks one will learn something significant about
their cultures seems to me quite dubious.
– The vast majority of subjects in psychology experiments are college
students; yet college students are a very specific subset of any population.
• Interpreting the numbers
– How much difference does there have to be between Asians and
Westerners to demonstrate a cultural divide?
– when broken down by specific nationalities, the differences between Asians
and Westerners became very fuzzy. French, Italians and Germans gave
answers similar to Japanese, different from US and Canadians.
• Framing the argument as a contrast between Asians and
Westerners in the first place.
– The question of differences within the categories is occasionally
acknowledged, but generally set aside.
Some Major Problems I

• Relations between subjects and observers

– Power
– Language
– Comfort with strangers
• Topics people are willing to address
– E.g., actions vs feelings, opinions vs. knowledge; criticism
Major problems II: Data collection methods

• Surveys
– Acceptability of questions (topics)
– Applicability of questions
– Wording of questions
– Alternatives offered
– Comparable data x countries, cultures
• Observation
– Sensitivity to testing, being tested
• Thinking aloud
– Sensitivity to expressing individual opinion on the fly
– Preferences for group work
– Humor
• Interviews
– Inconsistency between what’s said and done – competition, getting it
– Honesty, candidness
Collecting Data x Countries

• Scheduling issues (time of year, holidays…)