Cultural differences in the design of human-computer interfaces: A multinational study of university websites
Ewa Callahan, Indiana University, United States
Indiana University . Awarded
This dissertation evaluates the differences in visual components of the design of university websites around the world. The key research questions are: Does the design of user interfaces vary across cultures? If differences in interface design exist across cultures, can they be measured using Geert Hofstede's five dimensions of culture (power-distance, individualism/collectivism, masculinity/femininity, uncertainty avoidance, and long/short time orientation)? Cultural differences and similarities have been studied extensively in anthropological and social research and have also become an important issue in international interface design. Most empirical studies have tried to explain cultural differences in web design through the works of cultural anthropologist Geert Hofstede, although those studies are based on assumptions that his model, which is related to organizational attitudes, is also applicable to design. This study attempts to test the validity of those assumptions.
The data for this dissertation consist of 900 websites from 45 countries and regions around the world. Websites were compared, using content analysis methods, on the basis of page layout, directionality, symmetry, length, and color scheme, as well as the presence of news and search engines. Pictures were analyzed by type and depiction category. Additional analysis included different linguistic versions of the website pages. The results of the analysis show significant differences across countries in relation to the variables examined, with the exception of page symmetry and centralization. In terms of Hofstede's dimensions, significant statistical correlations were found for the dimensions power distance and individualism/collectivism, while the other dimensions yielded no significant results. The study suggests the importance of carrying out additional cross-cultural studies so that scholars and companies can ascertain which cultural factors matter in the design of websites in local, national, and global contexts.
Callahan, E. Cultural differences in the design of human-computer interfaces: A multinational study of university websites. Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University.
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