Messages and Context: Casual Observation on Work of Edward T Hall
By Ultan O'Broin-Oracle on Oct 29, 2010
If you are familar with the work of Edward T Hall, then you may have considered how to write user assistance in a way that best works with the overall context in which the users work. We (Apps-UX) recently conducted some international usability testing on messages. Interestingly, it turned out that the less explicit messages appeared to be more popular in a low context culture (figure 1), and more explicit messages more popular in a higher context country (figure 2). Not terribly scientific, I know, but definitely something we should explore more.
Figure 1: Low Context Message
Figure 2: High Context Message
The question remains, of course, about how additional context in messages - and other forms of user assistance - might be created and then rendered to the user based on some geolocation personalization setting. I can think of several ways that XML and GPS and locale-detection features can help with that already.Giving users what they want depending on their context is what user experience is all about. We need to test this out with more cases, in more countries, and with translated user assistance.
There is a related article in UXMatters about "Writing for a High-Context Culture" if you want to read more about this area.