1 March 2008

Comparing the practice of usability in the UK, Germany and China

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Although usability engineering as a profession has been developed in the western countries for over twenty years, its development in other parts of the world like China remains relatively unknown. The study reported in this paper seeks to compare the practice of usability professionals in the United Kingdom, Germany and China. It focuses on the development of interactive products for local markets and for the other markets. The major objective of this research is to have an initial understanding of usability practice for each country.

Focus groups were conducted in order to obtain insights into the usability practice of each country. The results provide good indication of the usability knowledge shared and used in each of the studied national markets. Two levels of distinction regarding results can be made for processes and methods: One is results across countries – that is differences in processes and methods between China, Germany and the UK. The other one is results across domains within countries – that is differences between usability engineering (UE) and cross-cultural usability engineering (XUE) processes and methods for each country.

The major findings can be summarized that differences in methods and processes applied differed more between China, Germany and England than for the different domains of UE and XUE. UE-processes in England and Germany seemed more mature, flexible and integrated than in China. Specific processes for cross-cultural product development seem to be not existent. Neither is specific cross-cultural usability-methods applied by any team.

This white paper describes the objectives, methodology and results of the study. It is hoped that the findings presented in this paper will inform the development of usability practices better adjusted to the local realities of each of the participant countries.

Part I | Part II | Part III

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