Jenny Shen on accessible international design @DIBIconf

2 min read


Global UX designer Jenny Shen today spoke at the DIBI Conference in Edinburgh, giving some great examples of how design must consider different cultures. Her presentation hit home that no size fits all and to create products for international users, we must be aware of the full range of human diversity with respect to language, culture and other forms of human difference.

Jenny started off with a really good question, “where are you from?”, which raises an interesting point that we’ve all experienced. What do you mean when you ask where are you from? It could be Where do I live now, where was I born, or where are my parents from? This really got me thinking, and the below slide summed it up nicely.

If the product doesn’t adapt to users’ differences and the rapidly changing world, our work will not truly meet the users’ needs.

Hamburger menus

The topic of many lengthy debates in the UI world, hamburger menus have never made the most accessible navigations, Jenny reinforced this in her presentation and highlighted that now in China the preferred replacement is a ‘Discover’ button. A long overdue and very useful piece of research that will no doubt be quoted frequently.

Many of our client sites are viewed by an international audience, and a few are delivered in the local language including Chinese, German, French and Spanish, but worryingly nearly all of our mobile sites, often simply by following modern trends or competitor sites, use off-canvas hamburger menus as the only way to navigate on a smart phone. Something we will now question and discuss more carefully in the future.

Hofstede Insights Culture Comparison Tool

Compare countries

Jenny introduced this great little tool which can be used to compare global cultures, and to help plan different approaches to content for different markets, users and cultures. Highlighting significant differences in her own projects, the biggest surprise was the Mozilla Firefox download page in the US, compared to the very different approach for the Chinese market.

See from 12m 37s in her presentation: