Designing culturally sensitive user interfaces

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has title::Designing culturally sensitive user interfaces
status: finished
Master: project within::Information Sciences
Student name: student name::Maurice Groot
Dates
Start start date:=2012/09/01
End end date:=2013/02/01
Supervision
Supervisor: Chris van Aart
Second reader: has second reader::Anna Bon
Thesis: has thesis::Media:Thesis.pdf
Poster: has poster::Media:Posternaam.pdf

Signature supervisor



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Abstract

Even though the Internet connects millions of people all over the world, there are still approximately 4,5 billion people without an Internet connection. These people mainly live in developing countries. This means that these people are not able to share their knowledge or adapt any new knowledge via the World Wide Web. However, the use of a mobile phone has increased tremendously during the last years. Even in rural areas people are suited with a mobile phone connection. The VOICES project aims at let these people exchange information using their mobile phone and community radio. The result is a voice-based interface for the Web. But the number of people with a connection to the Internet is increasing every year. Where there were in developing countries in the year 2001 only 2,8 Internet users per 100 habitants, in 2010 this number grew to 21,1 Internet users per 100 habitants. This is still less than one third of the number of Internet users in developed countries, but it means there’s an upcoming market we need to consider when developing Internet applications. This could mean that on the long term the currently running VOICES project which aims at a voice-based interface can be combined with mobile Internet. This will mean that there will be an opportunity to introduce mobile web applications using mobile Internet to people in these developing countries. Together with this growth of Internet users in developing countries, an interesting initiative has been developed. The ‘One Laptop Per Child’ project (OLPC) aims at “empower the world's poorest children through education”. Children in developing countries will be provided with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop. In this way children in rural areas are able to learn and get educated. In order to let people use, for instance a web application, in a convenient and comfortable way, a well-designed user interface (UI) is of great importance. A good user interface design maximizes the ease of use and minimizes frustration while users attain their goals. This, of course, also holds for people in developing countries. However, current human computer interaction (HCI) design guidelines are focused on users in developed countries. This means that these guidelines are based on ‘Western’ cultures. Therefore it is possible that a user interface design for people from say the US differs from such a design for people from Mali. For this reason research is needed on if, and so, how cultural background of a user affects the design of a user interface. Additionally, are the existing HCI guidelines universal, meaning they are applicable to users in both developed and developing countries? Is there a need to alter existing guidelines or perhaps are completely new guidelines needed? Many of the people living in developing countries have for example never seen a website. Must one need to take this into account when designing a UI? But not to mention, we are talking about ‘culture’, but what means the concept of ‘culture’? In order to answer these questions I will first perform a literature study; investigate what’s already done in this field of science. Also analysis of localizations of internationalized applications can be performed to get an idea on how cultural dependent applications are designed in practice. Furthermore, guidelines can be developed for designing cultural dependent applications with a focus on the same target group as in the VOICES project.