Use Creative Research Techniques

Traditional research methods may not always be effective for understanding the cultural nuances of the target audience. Designers can get creative with their research techniques by using methods such as ethnographic research, cultural probes, and contextual inquiry. These methods can provide deeper insights into the target audience’s cultural norms, beliefs, and behaviors, which can inform more effective web design decisions.

When working with cultures, differences in language, mindsets, and approaches can create barriers and cause the traditional research process to fall apart. Get creative with your research efforts. Consider the following techniques shared in the book Cross-Cultural Design:

Cultural probes

Ask research participants to complete activities which will provide you with insight into their culture. Provide them with a kit and let them complete the exercises independently. The instructions might ask them to do things like fill out a diary or draw pictures or share photographs.

Bollywood technique

Provide participants with a story prompt. Ask them to use their imagination to fill in the details. This gives them permission to think outside their usual norms.

Walking Havana method

Ask participants with help for creating a movie or some other creative work. Have them walk you through their environments, pointing out potential locations or even scouting folks for the movie. Participants put together their own scripts or creative works. This provides rich insight into the culture itself.

Possession personas

Possessions can be a manifestation of a persons identity. Ask participants about their possessions, especially related to the project topic. Ask about any adaptations they have made and why. Ask how they define the person.


See the full Cross-Cultural UX Design resource.

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