How Applicable Are North American Web Design Standards Across Cultures: A Comparison of Preferences of North American Users, Arab Users, and Designers Producing Content for Arab Audiences
Steven Shaw, Roukana Sanjakdar.
A list of North American web design standards and guidelines was extracted from a review of literature. These standards and guidelines were translated into a survey instrument with 80 items relating to preferences for different design decisions. The items addressed colour, lay-out, organization of information, placement of elements, navigational tools, motion and text. A number of significant differences were found between two user groups (16 Arabs and 14 North Americans) using Chi-Square and the Mann-Whitney U test. Some of these differences may be attributable to the particularities of the task of reading in a second language. Some results were predictable, based on the difference between English and Arabic writing (scripts read left to right versus right to left).
The sample of designers was small (4), but the descriptive results are interesting insofar as the designers seemed not to recognize certain basic differences between common design practice and Arab users' specific preferences. Though three of the four designers were Arab, their preferences were much more in line with standards than were the users'. This may reflect their training and immersion in a milieu dominated by North American standards and practices. Arab users themselves exhibited much more ambivalence in their preferences than North American users -- reflecting, perhaps, basic culturally-rooted differences and experience over time with content designed according to North American standards.
Steven Shaw (Canada)
Department of Education Technology, Faculty of Education
Dr Steven Shaw is Associate Professor at Concordia University in the Education technology department. He is also a founding partner of two training development firms, including an international organization that has developed an industry leading learning content management system.
Roukana Sanjakdar (Canada)
Faculty of Education
Roukana Sanjakdar had obtained her master degree Concordia University, education Technology department. She is interested to studying the effect of the cultural differences when learners are interacting with the interface design of websites or any software.
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)