At first glance, the concept of culture seems simple because we all have a relative understanding of what it is. But, what really is culture? What are the characteristics of different cultures and how do they influence localized UX?
Before we get into detail, Culture( /ˈkʌltʃər/), according to Wikipedia, is an umbrella term that encompasses the social behavior and norms found in human societies , as well as the knowledge, beliefs, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals in these groups.
Cultural Heritage, according to Wikipedia, refers to the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society.
Design Elements and Culture
If you’re a user experience (UX) designer, you’re probably already aware that culture affects your job – if you’re not, you should be. This is especially true when creating localized UX for your customers. Each culture places a different value on different design elements, just as they do in their society. Customers also absorb content in different ways due to these cultural perspectives.
One of the most well-known cultural theorists, Geert Hofstede, defined the cultural dimensions that explain cross-cultural differences very well.
In our local context, we have clear examples of how our culture has influenced user experiences and therefore tailored them more to the local context.
Here are some examples:
Overall the way you design and present the content on your product affects how users from any culture process the information on it. When creating localized UX it’s essential that you look into how culture has shaped your users’ cognitive processing of information.
The theme of this year’s edition of Kampala Design Week “Culture, Heritage and the Political” has been an opportunityfor us to lightly examine a topic which will, by all means, require several more months of research and reflection; ‘the artisan in industry’ is an exhibition which highlights a shift in craft methods observed by our teams through a selection of some of our own projects in product design/redesign and production optimisation - as local entrepreneurs and their artisans work their way through pressures brought about by the need to indus- trialise, delivering high volumes of outputs with high quality and consistency.
This for us marks an interesting period in Ugandan industry, more-so as we con- tinue to celebrate the inheritance of a strong arts and crafts tradition that boasts the production of unique one-off pieces and supports a growing tourism industry but continues to compete unfairly with foreign products. All this in an industry that now sees digital methods further challenging the role of the artisan .
To kickstart what could indeed be the first of a series of exhibitions, we look at a few of our own projects where local entrepreneurs attempt to trasition into more mainstream industry and where requirements for higher volume production are important - different levels of this transition have been captured providing a glimpse into what could be moments when the artisan(s) had to adapt their technique/approach to involve new means by which they could produce more than a handful of products while managing time, cost and quality.
Through this exhibition the viewer is also encouraged to reflect on government policies and initiatives such as the Skilling Uganda project which pushes the agenda for increased skills training in business and vocational skills among youth as well as the Buy Uganda Build Uganda campign which promises to in- spire a reliable local market for Ugandan made products. Ultimately the ques- tion posed hereafter is: “Are we collectively doing enough to strategically safe- guard and grow our inheritance in craft-making and product development to keep it relevant in a new age of industry?”