The Effects of Cross Cultural Interface Design Orientation on World Wide Web User Performance
The electronic environment of the World Wide Web evolves daily, increasing the likelihood of international participants and transactions. With this in mind, we investigated several key issues and questions related to the cultural context of Web interface design. We conducted three major studies to get at the issues of the relationship of culture to design on the Web. In the first study we asked the general question, are there design elements that repeat themselves in different cultures and different genres that we can use to design genre-specific and culture-specific Web sites? To answer this question, we conducted a foraging study in which we inspected dozens of Web sites from various countries. We found that indeed there are a few design elements, we called cultural markers, that are both culture specific and genre specific. In the second study, we designed and conducted a controlled experiment in which we designed culture-specific Web sites using a few of the cultural markers identified in the foraging study, and compared their effects on native users performance and preferences. The results were mixed. We found that for Italian participants, the Italian designs were preferable for navigation markers but not for color. We were not able to show significant differences as a result of varying the markers' cultural values for American participants. In the third study, we defined culture with a small c, referring to an audience with a set of habits and practices based on experience. We used people experienced in two different genres, e-shopping and news sites, on the World Wide Web to investigate preferences and performance as a function of Web cultural experience. We found significant effects for both preference and performance.