The Problems Facing User Experience Design in a Multicultural World

User experience (UX) is the term used to describe the effect that a product, service or system has on a user. Although there is no definitive definition of what this experience entails, typically it is understood to involve changes in user emotions and perceptions.

Simply put, customer perception is an opinion that customers have of a product or service. Although it may seem like a straightforward element of the design process, it can be one of the most challenging aspects to consider.

The issues that are built into UX

When enquiring how an individual feels about something, a concise response is usually given, such as, “I like it”, “It’s alright” or “I don’t like it”. Investigating the reasoning behind why people feel a certain way towards something can become increasingly difficult to determine. This concept is similar to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and is applicable to the product creation process.

For many years, psychologists and philosophers have endeavoured to find a way to explain subjective experience, yet they have not yet been successful. In fact, any approach that is able to give a satisfactory explanation must address three major challenges.

There is a great diversity of people with a range of backgrounds, outlooks and life experiences. We come from a variety of cultures, and even within the same culture or social group, different views and values may be held.

This suggests that even if two people experienced the same event, their recollections of it would likely differ considerably. It is comparable to two people expressing their love for each other; even though they may be feeling the same emotion, love, each individual is likely to have a wholly individual point of view.

Phillip Goff’s book, Galileo’s Error, highlights the fact that the realm of subjective experience is fundamentally qualitative. This means that it is impossible to determine whether an apple is sufficiently red or delicious for an individual. Natural Language Processing (NLP) still has a long way to go before it is able to provide a comprehensive representation of an individual’s internal world, since feelings and thoughts are expressed through language.

You may be questioning if there are any other ways to measure an individual’s impression in addition to using Natural Language Processing (NLP). The answer is yes, surveys can provide a metric for this. However, it is important to remember that surveys are not perfect and are limited to what the survey designer believes is an accurate representation of an individual’s experience.

Scenario: By not taking colour options into consideration when conducting a product survey, customers who were unsatisfied with the merchandise due to its colour scheme would not be able to express their dissatisfaction. Furthermore, it is possible that one person was put off by the colours, while another was put off by the high contrast.

It is possible to take into account all possible perspectives, however, it is important to remember that if a survey takes longer than five minutes to complete, the majority of people will not finish it. The distinction between a comprehensive analysis and a laborious dialogue is very slight.

It is important to note that putting oneself in another person’s shoes is a complex process which must be approached with great care. UX design requires a multi-step procedure which involves gathering empirical data from tests and surveys, as well as the informed decision making of the designer.

UX Design in a Multicultural World

Philosophers of the posthumanist school recognise the immense value of humanity’s cultural diversity and wealth. Each individual brings to the table a unique background and perspective that is essential and authentic. This contrasts with more traditional interpretations of humanity, which tend to be more limited in scope (e.g. Eurocentric values).

It is well established that our upbringing, society, and biology all contribute to shaping our outlook on life and our behaviours. As such, it is reasonable to assume that a user with normal motor functions and a user with limited motor abilities will have vastly divergent experiences when interacting with a touchscreen.

It is important to consider user experience design when creating a product. Generally, our aim is to design something suitable for the ‘average user’. Depending on the situation, we may use market research to establish the design, or we may draw on our collective experience, intuition and understanding. To help guide this process, we can refer to the concept of ‘Mr. Average’.

In order to successfully navigate the complexities of a rapidly diversifying world, it is essential to equip development teams with the knowledge and skills to move beyond a single-minded approach and to consider the needs of individuals from various backgrounds and with a range of preferences. Moreover, it is necessary to provide the means to address these diverse requirements in order to achieve successful outcomes.

It is essential to shift the focus from “how one wants other people to feel” to “how they truly need to feel” in order to achieve the desired outcome. For example, “The Last of Us 2” by Sony is being held up as the new standard for user friendliness.

The game offers a wide range of accessibility settings for those with hearing, sight, or mobility impairments, allowing players to customise their experience to suit their individual needs. This flexibility provides an inclusive experience for all users.

By introducing a high-contrast display, Naughty Dog have allowed more people to partake in the game and feel included, whilst still providing an atmosphere that can be enjoyed by those who want to sense tension. By abandoning preconceived notions of what players should feel whilst playing, the game has become more accessible and desirable for a wider audience.

Adaptability and self-awareness are essential in this situation, as customisation is of great importance. Whilst the development team may be able to vary from the usual approach in certain circumstances, they may require the help of diversity consultants in other cases.

The Importance of Considering Multiple Perspectives When Designing Products

If the majority of our users are representative of the average, there is no benefit in investing in features that a small proportion of users will find useful. I can present you with three options:

It is clear that the majority of competitors are targeting the ‘Joe Average’ customer. However, by focusing on the remaining 20%, there is an opportunity to gain an advantage over competitors. If this market were better served, this discussion would not be necessary.

Considering the user experience is essential when designing software, as this can provide benefits beyond providing access for individuals with impairments. As we have previously discussed in The Daily Bundle, taking a user-centred approach to development can result in software that is more enjoyable to use and can be used in a wider range of contexts.

The moral conclusion has been drawn: social awareness and digital acceleration are mutually dependent in order to create a brighter future. To ensure that no one is excluded, we must design for diversity and elevate our collective consciousness to incorporate broader design objectives.

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