Foreword – Cross-Cultural Design


Design is meant to solve problems. But, time and again, I have taken my money and attention elsewhere after witnessing a brand awkwardly attempt to be relevant on social media, or after experiencing an ignorant in-product gaffe. Without sensitivity and cultural awareness, even the simplest design choice can create experiential dissonance for product users.

Unfortunately, some of the biggest mistakes occur during the process of scaling design solutions from local to global. Mental models, interface functionality, tone of voice, even symbolism can change depending on cultural context—often within the same country. Imagine the diversity of expectations across the world!

That diversity is a given in our ever-evolving, global community. As smartphones continue to reach new markets, the impact of software—with both positive and negative outcomes—will likewise continue to grow. Technology increases productivity, of course, but it can also give people from wildly differing places and backgrounds the opportunity to better understand each other.

We as designers must embrace this opportunity, and that means incorporating more perspectives as often as possible. Cross-Cultural Design does just that—not merely as a call for increased diversity, but as a toolkit of methodologies to help us adapt to the obvious new normal.

Senongo's words have changed the way I ideate and implement solutions for millions of global users at large-scale companies. Cross-Cultural Design will do the same for you by empowering you to bring your work to more folks across the globe, make your product more usable in cultures beyond your own, and transform you into a more thoughtful, skillful practitioner.

Catt Small