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Keynote N. Hoft
Keynote S. Dray
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Tutorial S. Dray
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Tutorial A. Marcus
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IWIPS 2004
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Program - Tutorial 3
"Cross-Cultural Communication in User-Interface Design for Work, Home, Play, and On the Way"

Aaron Marcus
Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc.
Emeryville, CA USA
New York, NY USA

Participants will learn both theoretical issues as well as practical techniques concerning the relation of culture dimensions to user-interface development-process steps and user-interface design-components. The tutorial intends to demonstrate that localization of products and services by language is not sufficient. It will present new, useful terminology, philosophy, principles, and techniques of professional practice that will assist participants in developing products and services for global user communities or for national markets that are culturally diverse. The insights gained will apply to user-interfaces for desktop productivity tools, Websites and Web-based applications, information appliances, and mobile devices of all kinds, from phones and organizers to vehicles. In addition, many new possible areas of research will become apparent related to communication and interaction for work, home, play, and on the way.

  • Culture models, especially of Hofstede (power-distance, individualism-collectivism, gender roles, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term time orientation)
  • Examples of culture bias on the Web
  • Case study of applying culture models to how people in Germany and China acquire information about using mobile devices
  • Case study of culture affecting corporate- identity practices on the Web
  • Case study of a mobile phone prototype developed for Chinese users
  • Examples of mapping culture dimensions to user-interface design components
  • References to additional dimensions of trust, persuasion, intelligence, and cognition that interact with culture and communication
  • Video example of cross-culture ethnographic study of mobile device usage in Asia, Europe, and USA
  • Class exercise: analysis of cross-cultural dialogue
  • Class exercise: mapping culture dimensions to user-interface design components
  • Class exercise: designing initial culturally sensitive user-interface concepts for either the Web or a mobile device.


Participants are expected to have basic experience in user-interface development, especially analysis and design, for desktop applications, the Web, or mobile devices. No previous experience in culture analysis is required.


For the lectures, participants will view Powerpoint lectures projected onto a screen. For the exercises, participants will work in groups of three to eight persons depending on the size of the audience. Groups will work around tables or sets of desks that permit easy discussion and assembly of sketches on paper using pens. Groups will present the results of their exercises to the entire tutorial audience. Complete handout materials will reproduce the lecture slides and provide additional pages of exercise background information.

Instructor's Background

Mr. Marcus is the founder and President of Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc. (AM+A). A graduate in physics from Princeton University and in graphic design from Yale University, in 1967 he became the world's first graphic designer to be involved fulltime in computer graphics. In the 1970s he programmed a prototype desktop publishing page layout application for the Picturephone (tm) at AT&T Bell Labs, programmed virtual reality spaces while a faculty member at Princeton University, and directed an international team of visual communicators as a Research Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu. In the early 1980s he was a Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in Berkeley, founded AM+A, and began research as a Co-Principal Investigator of a project funded by the US Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In 1992, he received the National Computer Graphics Association's annual award for contributions to industry. He was the keynote speaker for ACM/SIGGRAPH-80, and the organizer and chair of the opening plenary panel for ACM/SIGCHI-99.

Mr. Marcus has written over 150 articles and written/co-written five books, including (with Ron Baecker) "Human Factors and Typography for More Readable Programs" (1990), "Graphic Design for Electronic Documents and User Interfaces" (1992), and "The Cross-GUI Handbook for Multiplatform User Interface Design" (1994) all published by Addison-Wesley. For the last decade, Mr. Marcus has turned his attention to the Web and wireless, mobile devices, helping the industry to learn about good user-interface and information-visualization design, providing guidelines for globalization/localization, and focusing on challenges of "baby faces" (small displays for consumer information appliances) of ubiquitous devices and cross-cultural communication. Mr. Marcus has published, lectured, tutored, and consulted internationally for more than 30 years and has been an invited keynote/plenary speaker at conferences of IWIPS, ACM SIGCHI, ACM SIGGRAPH, and the Human Factors and Ergonomic Society, as well as conferences internationally. He is a visionary thinker, designer, and writer, well-respected in international professional communities, with connections throughout the Web, user interface, human factors, graphic design, and publishing industries.

Website: Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc.

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Last update: 24 July 2003
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