Cross-cultural Design and What it Means in our Global Context

This can be seen as a great opportunity to reach more people, but also a challenge where it must be taken into account that the needs and characteristics of users are different according to their context and culture and thus, create more meaningful experiences.

It may seem obvious that a user in China is not equal to a user in Costa Rica; however, during the design process it is not always taken into account what this implies. Even thinking of two people who are within the same region, they can have very different characteristics, such as social, geographical, language or gastronomical tastes. Given this, it is important to carry out a conscious design process that allows us to find valuable information when developing products or solutions that can be adaptable to different types of users.

Within the user-centered design universe, there are elements and characteristics that work globally and that are characteristic of  human beings; however, there are others that depend on a specific group that behaves in a certain way from interactions with its environment. An example of this may be the meaning that colors have according to culture. In the West, red represents energy, excitement, action, love, passion, but also danger, war, struggle and the warning to stop. While in the East, this color refers to prosperity, good fortune, and even brides use it for their wedding dresses and is the symbol of joy when combined with white. If we go into specific countries, in India, it communicates purity, fertility, love, beauty, wealth, power. In Russia it is associated with communism, in South Africa it is used as a mourning color and in Nigeria it is reserved for use by chiefs in ceremonies.

The aforementioned is one of the many examples that can be evidenced in the interpretation or use of an element in a given context. It’s important, especially because today’s business models need to be scalable, but that means they can be adapted to the needs and consumption characteristics of those environments.

With the idea of generating unique experiences from a design designed for different cultures it is recommended to deeply understand the different characteristics of the target audience and do user research that yields user insights that are also relevant to the business. Some of the tools that can help in this process are the user person, which allows to generate a user profile and its behavior. On the other hand, benchmarking allows one to know what is working in a specific context and how a certain business model or trend is being welcomed in a specific group of people.

The same is true for branding, which is always closely related to our cultural context. When you are aware of how your sorroung trends impact you brand or company's perception, you can really connect with your target audience. If this is a topic that you are interested on, we recommend you read the followingaon rebranding your business.

As we were able to analyze, an intercultural design requires a conscious process of research that allows taking into account certain aspects that ensure that the product or service developed generates the desired impact on the community of interest. There are much deeper aspects in the design process that are not only related to the interface. This is why we need to take into consideration the context of our final users and stakeholders in order to create platforms that really connect with their audience and develop a true  impact.