Conclusion – Cross-Cultural Design

Conclusion

We’ve reached the end—amazing! I know this book was full of anecdotes—about research, images, stories, and methodology. My aim as I wrote this was to empower you, to give you the information you need to tackle cross-cultural design projects, and ultimately to tell your own stories.

The web is broad and strange, and it allows for more flexibility than we give it credit for. It’s in our power to use that inherent flexibility to illuminate and highlight the cultural diversity of our planet through our user research, our personas, and our design systems.

I hope that within these pages, you have gained a clear and accessible methodology for how to design across our myriad human cultures. Making the web a richer experience for us all, regardless of language, location, or identity, should be our operating principle. Designers, developers, and strategists of all stripes have a great opportunity to lead this charge.

This book is a call to action, a plea to continue the hard work of making the web a more culturally diverse and inclusive place. The stakes could not be higher. The computational linguist András Kornai, in his paper “Digital Language Death,” figured that only about five percent of languages will ever achieve active use on the internet (http://bkaprt.com/ccd/07-01/). Mark Davis, the president of Unicode, estimated that ninety-eight percent of languages are digitally disadvantaged, meaning they are not supported by operating systems, devices, browsers, or apps (http://bkaprt.com/ccd/07-02/).

The role of our interfaces is to mediate culture, to help us negotiate the intricacies of human communication. But how can we do that, honestly, when only a small percentage of the languages and cultures on our small blue marble will ever make it online? Unless web practitioners build flexible, culturally responsive systems for all of us to use, many humans will never be able to participate fully in the promise and astonishing complexity of the web.

Our goal should be to make cross-cultural digital experiences fulfilling, adapting our design choices to our audiences, however big or small their needs are. It’s not an easy task, but it is necessary.

As you put this book down and move on to your work, remember this: when it comes to culturally responsive design, understanding the choices in front of you means nothing if they aren’t applied in a holistic way. Have empathy and understanding for how complicated things are today online. Give people a bit of extra help where you can. Create ways for all of us to participate, to let our cultural uniqueness shine through. Our duty is to craft experiences for the web that empower our audiences to navigate and negotiate meaning within their societies. That’s power we can wield.