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Cooking UX with Cultural Leftovers

A talk by eadahl at Midwest UX 2011

About the Talk

April 9, 2011 7:20 AM

Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio

The products and services we deploy are embedded within a "culture" and not just a context. Culture is an important concept, but often truncated to just context in lots of design research. We need to think beyond user's goals, needs, desires, emotions, context, and psychology; we need to start talking more about culture. The social ecology and culture impact the frame in which your product or service will be interpreted, understood and consumed, or not. How do our design efforts fit within a culture and impact that very same culture.

We don't just learn about culture through our official research protocols or formal research activities. It's also about embedding ourselves in a culture and opening up to a critical discourse of cultural deconstruction, which we can and should be doing on a regular basis.

Design (even if data and pattern driven) is subjective and we bring our own historical trajectory to our designs. Having a deeper understanding of culture will have a direct impact on what we bring to our design decisions.

More broadly, as a design profession we need to be expanding our discourse to include culture and cultural theory into our understanding of interactions, experiences and design.

This talk will include my own examples from living and working in the US as well as observations from a recent research trip to Brazil. I will also be exploring cultural theory that designers can quickly start to incorporate into their work. The first step is exposing and making meaning of these cultural insights, and the second step is understanding how they apply to your design work. This talk will demonstrate why we should be paying attention to culture and what we can do with it. I will also propose practical ways we can build our collective cultural knowledge as a design community.

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