Delivering a Cross-Cultural User Experience, Part 1

Aaron Branson
June 25, 2013
User Experience Design

Cross-browser? Ok, that one is pretty standard in our world. It changes constantly of course with retiring of old browsers. Goodbye and good riddance to IE6 and IE7. Oh, hello and welcome to the party, IE10. Is that IE11 behind you?

Cross-device? We’re all getting there, and making rapid improvements. Responsive design has proven to be a phenomenal way to design for any device by targeting resolution break-points. Back in December of 2012, Mashable called 2013 "the year of responsive design". I’d say that has been the case. Nearly every new design project is taking responsive design into budget and timeline consideration. And an organization could elect to truly target specific devices with mobile apps to compliment the mobile (responsive) website. However, there is another way to leverage your same website and content and deliver a targeted user experience per device. That is adaptive design.

No, you do not need to create and manage a separate website to target your Android users, your iPhone users and your Windows Phone users. Think of your website as two layers – a content layer and a presentation, or "UI" layer. With adaptive design, your website is managed by a single CMS, but by utilizing device detection logic, the website adapts – and serves up the appropriate UI layer. This can be used to detect a specific mobile device requesting the web page and also used to detect a printer and serve up the printer version. Essentially, you can use responsive design as your baseline to feel confident that each Device + Resolution + Browser combination is getting a positive user experience. And then, layer on adaptive designs to target and provide an 'optimal' user experience for specific devices. Below is an illustration that I came up with that I think helps visualize this potential strategy.

cross cultural adaptive and responsive design

Cross-cultural? No, I’m not talking about simply multi-lingual websites or even multiple country-specific websites. So far we talked about ensuring the website addresses different browsers and then also responds to specific resolutions and adapts to specific devices. Next up, let’s see how to make the website cater to specific people!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Delivering a Cross-Browser, Cross-Device, Cross-Cultural User Experience focusing on Cross-Cultural User Experience.

Update: You can read Part 2 here.

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