Culture and Usability Evaluation: The Effects of Culture in Structured Interviews

Peer-reviewed Article

pp. 156-170Download full article (PDF)


A major impediment in global user interface development
is that there is inadequate empirical evidence for the effects of culture
in the usability engineering methods used for developing these global user
interfaces. This paper presents a controlled study investigating the effects
of culture on the effectiveness of structured interviews in international
usability evaluation. The experiment consisted of a usability evaluation
of a website with two independent groups of Indian participants. Each group
had a different interviewer; one belonging to the Indian culture and the
other to the Anglo-American culture. The results show that participants
found more usability problems and made more suggestions to an interviewer
who was a member of the same (Indian) culture than to the foreign (Anglo-American)
interviewer. The results of the study empirically establish that culture
significantly affects the efficacy of structured interviews during international
user testing. The implications of this work for usability engineering are

Practitioner’s Take Away

  • Cultural mismatch between the interviewer and the users affects the
    usability assessment technique of structured interviews.
  • Interviewers
    from the same culture might be more effective in eliciting usability
    problems in when users come from hierarchical cultures.
  • Hofstede’s
    cultural dimensions model can be used to inform the selection of usability
    assessment techniques cross-cultural user testing.
  • Culture
    might influence the efficacy of a usability method that involves high
    degree of social interaction.
  • Considering culture in the usability
    evaluation process will lead to better informed products and services.