I recently co-edited a special issue of Technical Communication, the journal of the Society for Technical Communication on the topic of “Localizing User Experience: Strategies, Practices, and Techniques for Culturally Sensitive Design” with Huatong Sun. As part of the special issue, Several scholars from the field of Technical and Professional Communication (TPC) provided new approaches to managing user experience design projects within academia and beyond.
Why Do We Need New Approaches to UX and Culturally Sensitive Design?
As we explain in our editor’s introduction to the special issue, the title of this special issue is meant to signify that not only do we need scholarly work at the intersections of UX and localization, we also need new approaches to culturally sensitive design. In a world that is rapidly changing due to the political, economic, technological, and cultural turbulences associated with globalization, technical communicators must now contend with new roles as facilitators of not only communication, but also cultural fluency and sensitivity.
What Do These Approaches Look Like?
- In “Localizing communities, goals, communication, and inclusion: A collaborative approach,” Ann Shivers-McNair and Clarissa San Diego review and reflect on how they cultivated global cultural diversity through the complicated, and often difficult, process of local negotiation in the U.S. and Poland. They call their approach “community strategy,” which centers on social justice and advocacy against the wide background of global cultural flows, with the goal of opening opportunities for “cross-cultural, socially just engagement” and for effective communication across differences.
- In “Of Scripts and Prototypes: A Two-Part Approach to User Experience Design for International Contexts,” Kirk St. Amant introduces a new framework to study the global flow of technology and media: a script-prototype theory approach that addresses the nature of materiality in global design on how creations should conform to contexts.
- In their “Converging Fields, Expanding Outcomes: Technical Communication, Translation, and Design at a Non-Profit Organization,” Laura Gonzales and Heather Noel Turner explore a converging process of translation, technical communication, and design for multilingual content development, a change driven by “the material realities” of global flows, based on their two years of fieldwork in an American non-profit language services office.
- Rachel Tofteland-Trampe studies the local cultural practices of an American urban community technology center in “Crossing the divide: Implications for technical communication user advocates.” She observed that a big part of the access issue for inexperienced technology users was due to lack of appropriate cultural knowledge, and asks designers to reconsider visual design cues and design guidelines developed for today’s web pages.
- In “Designing for a culturally inclusive democracy: A case study of voter registration outreach postcards in Latino communities,” Lindsay Prior, a veteran Washington state election administrator, reflects on her experiences of designing two versions of bilingual voter registration cards to reach out to heavily Latino counties. Applying design and rhetorical methods in the field, she employed an instrumental approach to emphasize the convenience of online registration in one version of a voter registration card and used a social approach in another by persuading potential voters through community pressure.
For the full issue, visit the STC website (temporarily available without subscription): https://www.stc.org/techcomm/.