A successful UI designer understands the importance of considering different cultural characteristics, backgrounds, and behaviors during the planning process.
An obvious but vital consideration, language barriers impact communication and reading comprehension, frustration levels, and product adoption. Depending on the target audience, it may be essential to provide content in other languages, or at least, some contextual translation tools.
These tools may include mouse over pop-ups, or more extensive online translation solutions. A native language speaker should test and quality check all translated content for accuracy, proper syntax and appropriateness.
Some UI designers may assume levels of user sophistication based on prior experience from a majority culture. If the background experience of the product audience is limited, a resulting naiveté and lack of understanding may affect their use of the product.
In planning and designing UI for culturally diverse users, care should be taken to select bias-free material and provide alternative ways to support the intent. This can be as obvious as choosing a variety of images that go beyond white males only. But, it can also involve more subtle choices such as, seasonal assumptions that summer comes in the months of June and July, when in the southern hemisphere, those are winter months.
Use real-world content
Abstract words and ideas such as beautiful can vary among cultures. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What one considers appealing (or even acceptable) in one culture may be offensive in another. Thus, it is necessary to make and imply meaning by using real-world content and not abstract ideas that may vary from culture to culture.
Meaning should result by situating within and connecting to the real-world context of your diverse audience. Here, color is also a prime example. In China, red is the preferred color for weddings, whereas white is associated with death.
It is vital for designers to avoid stereotyping ethnic or cultural groups and thus creating adaptations that are not needed, or worse, offensive. Given the points above about making cultural modifications, this can be a fine line. It requires some research to avoid making uninformed assumptions.
More information about various cultures can be obtained through testing, interviews, questionnaires, and literature. Also, the best source of information is the direct community or culture. Last, be sure to check the suitability of design variations using formative evaluation and expert review when possible.