INVESTIGATION OF EFFECTS OF CULTURAL BACKGROUND OF USERS ON INTERFACE DESIGN AND USABILITY

Open Access
Author:
Dhillon, Beant Kaur
Graduate Program:
Industrial Engineering
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
None
Committee Members:
  • Richard Donovan Koubek, Thesis Advisor
  • M Jeya Chandra, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • Usability
  • Hofstede
  • Interface Design
  • Culture
Abstract:
Over the past few decades, with an increase in technological innovation and world becoming a ‘Global Village’, a single interface or product may be used by individuals from varied nationalities. Since the early 1980s, researchers have demonstrated how the perception of icons, symbols, colors, and layout differs across cultures. Various terms like ‘Culturability’ and ‘Cultural Markers’ have been created to emphasize the relationship between culture and usability. In context of these developments, the experiment explores differences in perceived interface usability based on cultural dimensions as defined by Geert Hofstede. The two dimensions used for the experiment were Uncertainty Avoidance and Power Distance. The study was conducted for two cultures, namely, India and United States and user satisfaction as well efficiency of the users was measured during the experiment. No direct interactions were discovered between Nationality and Power Distance or Nationality and Uncertainty Avoidance. However, the difference in average time taken for a high Power Distance interface was found to be more than a low Power Distance interface irrespective of nationality. A significant three-way interaction was discovered between Nationality, Uncertainty Avoidance and Power Distance for User Satisfaction Ratings. The findings suggest a complex interaction between culture and interface elements whose comprehension needs further experimentation and analysis. Also, eight out of ten of the Indian subjects who worked with a low Uncertainty Avoidance interface said that they would have preferred a high Uncertainty Avoidance interface with more visual cues.