Global Audiences, Usability and Pastries (Part 1)

On Friday the 30th of July, a trio of eager Attacatians ventured off to the Bunnyfoot Edinburgh office for a half day seminar on usability based topics.  The seminar was designed to raise awareness for Care International UK – if you are interested in making a donation here is the JustGiving page (if anyone from Bunnyfoot is reading this, you’ll see we made a contribution!).

This post covers the first talk by Rhys Nealon entitled, “Engaging with Global Audiences”.

Pushkar Fair
Creative Commons License photo credit: Koshyk

Engaging with global audiences, was to my understanding, all about the implications of usability testing across a large and often very diverse audience (relative to the comprehension of Global).

During the talk, we were treated to two examples of very different companies that entered into global usability testing. From a personal perspective, I found this topic particularly interesting, as it touched on parts of my work dealing with PPC testing and theories from my university lectures on international marketing and the whole ‘standardisation vs localisation’ concept (I’ll refrain from entering into this discussion!).

Case Studies

Both case studies offered two insightful perspectives to the benefits and difficulties of conducting testing across this massive scale.  We learned about cultural differences, and their potential impingement on a standardised website. We also ran through a couple of videos showing real time eye tracking (which I might add was pretty cool). During one such video, we were reminded of the potential bubble that can exist amongst homogeneous cultural thinkers – during one of the website testing sessions in Japan, a participant highlighted that the standard western date format (DD/MM/YYYY) was not really used in Japan, and therefore could lead towards a negative user experience! This was one of those “doh” moments when it really hits home the impact of usability testing.

After we ran through the outcomes of the various case studies, we looked at some of the implications of testing across the Globe.

Difficulties and Opportunities

One of the main difficulties brought up was the application of onsite testing across, or even within, continents. Issues such as travelling, linguistic expertise and available local resources were all highlighted as potentially detrimental to any worldwide testing exercise. However, these are all manageable with the right approach and methodology.

The presentation went on to explain how an appropriate methodology can overcome the main barriers of testing; these were some of the main points.

  • Think about, and factor in, time differences (off & on site testing)
  • Understand the limitations of geographical internet connections and software limitations
  • Think about additional resources such as translations (both in terms of human resources and time)
  • Local resources such as partners
  • Ensure you have a note taking template for easy and consistent translations.

So, why test?

Well, from what we understood, testing is paramount to providing the opportunity to analyse and compare individual findings with larger goals and objectives. When you test, not just in a global arena, but in any sense, you are actively trying to make your product or service better by taking into consideration individual perspectives or actions  that collectively help to provide a customer focused offering.

So, whether you are testing your website on the Japanese market or your nan, a solid methodology with clear aims should be integral to providing insightful results within the applied field.

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