Firs time in the USA

28 Sep 2007 - 8:52pm
7 years ago
13 replies
520 reads
Omri Eliav
2004

Hi All,

I think there was a reverse topic before (?).
Anyway, I'm going for the first time to meet users in the USA.

Issues of course are language and culture. (I'm not a native english
speaker, and my culture... well... you don't want to know :-)

I have experience with european countries (previous jobs), where I
felt we sort of met in the middle, most of the times.

Is it important while dealing with highly technical audience (SW
developers ;-)
Are there really any cultural differences these days?

What's your advice to make it successful?

Thanks,
- Omri

Comments

29 Sep 2007 - 5:33am
.pauric
2006

Please forgive me in advance for making any sweeping generalizations
about a particular culture. Everyone is unique after all.

Having worked in both the UK and East Coast US, as well as a lot of
time with Germans, Israelis and a little time with a Portuguese team.
I would say there are significant differences in culture.

Coming to the US you'll note a more 'can do' attitude. It
completely depends on the team/company you are meeting but I'd make
a bet you'll meet a more receptive audience in relation to taking
onboard UCD concepts when speaking with SW engineers.

I have to say that I feel there's a more egalitarian relationship
between different communities within organizations here.

But of course, Irish engineers really are the best to work with.

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Posted from the improved ixda.org
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29 Sep 2007 - 5:36pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I Omri (When ya comin'?),

I think from a research perspective with users, the big thing here is
that:
1. users really have time issues
2. they expect to be compensated for their time

That might be the same in other places, but it is really true here.

One difference that you need to be aware of which is even cultural to
different regions and urban landscapes is how comfy people are with
giving you criticism. In NY ... not a problem. In the west coast, a
BIG problem in my experience.

-- dave

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29 Sep 2007 - 10:02pm
.pauric
2006

oooops, when you said "Is it important while dealing with highly
technical audience (SW developers" I thought you were asking about
talking to colleagues. Reading Dave's response made me realize
otherwise.

That all said, I do have to disagree with Dave's second point "2.
they expect to be compensated for their time"

I was recently at the Emerging Tech conf
http://www.technologyreview.com/events/tretc/ where I and a number of
other users of websites were more than happy to give up their time for
'free'

Users, of most any culture, will be happy to contribute to the
betterment of a product they use - the end result is that it will
make their lives easier. I understand the logic of compensating
their their time, its my personal belief that doing so bias's the
results.

In short, pay someone and they'll tell you (even subconsciously)
what you want to hear.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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30 Sep 2007 - 9:39am
Cwodtke
2004

dave malouf wrote:
> One difference that you need to be aware of which is even cultural to
> different regions and urban landscapes is how comfy people are with
> giving you criticism. In NY ... not a problem. In the west coast, a
> BIG problem in my experience.

to expand on that: the hardest thing for my French husband to deal with
was the "insincerity" which can also be read as "politeness." I.E. he'd
hear folks say, "oh we'll have you over for dinner sometimes", or "let's
grab drinks", or such, and the invitations would never materialize, even
if *he* followed up. In France you don't say you'll invite folks over
for an aperitif without being willing to whip out your calendar and
follow through.

This is worst in the midwest, bad in California and least bad in the
east/new york area. I can't speak for the south.

Niceness will get in your way in getting criticism, in social
interactions (people will say they are on board to your face, then go
behind your back to complain), personal interactions as seen above.
Engineers/programmers are often immune to this bad habit, but the rest
can not be trusted to report accurately as you may need. Multiple data
points at all times.

~c

30 Sep 2007 - 1:44pm
Katie Albers
2005

>dave malouf wrote:
>> One difference that you need to be aware of which is even cultural to
>> different regions and urban landscapes is how comfy people are with
>> giving you criticism. In NY ... not a problem. In the west coast, a
> > BIG problem in my experience.

<snip>

>This is worst in the midwest, bad in California and least bad in the
>east/new york area. I can't speak for the south.

I'd issue a particular caution regarding the south -- at least in my
experience...Things that sounded to me like actual invitations (Oh,
we're just so pleased to meet you! We're having a barbecue Saturday
late afternoon! You should come!) were not. I showed up at a couple
events to be met by baffled hostesses before I realized that these
invitations were meant as a pro forma politeness, not an actual
*invitation*.

>Niceness will get in your way in getting criticism, in social
>interactions (people will say they are on board to your face, then go
>behind your back to complain), personal interactions as seen above.
>Engineers/programmers are often immune to this bad habit, but the rest
>can not be trusted to report accurately as you may need. Multiple data
>points at all times.
>
>~c

--

----------------
Katie Albers
katie at firstthought.com

30 Sep 2007 - 2:55pm
Omri Eliav
2004

On Sep 29, 2007, at 9:02 PM, pauric wrote:

> Users, of most any culture, will be happy to contribute to the
> betterment of a product they use - the end result is that it will
> make their lives easier.

I agree. At least in my experience (with my culture) people were
almost proud to participate and contribute. But, it's harder to
convince their boss.

Thanks,
- Omri

30 Sep 2007 - 3:06pm
Omri Eliav
2004

On Sep 30, 2007, at 9:44 PM, Katie Albers wrote:

> I realized that these
> invitations were meant as a pro forma politeness, not an actual
> *invitation*.

The word here say that "American" will never invite you... Now I'll
know how to deal with one. (Ok, not everywhere).

I know, Dave, you're an exception

- Omri

30 Sep 2007 - 3:39pm
k lenox
2006

Regarding participant compensation - The studies I've conducted have
been more ethnography in nature and depending on the particular
segment, generally require reasonable compensation for the length and
commitment to the studies. However, if you're seeking info from
software developer-types or even core users of your software, I've
found that they are often more than eager to offer free advice on how
they envision improvements to the particular products. The public
beta-tester-types will often offer information for free in order to
improve the products they use on a daily basis. I agree that a bigger
barrier with talking to sw engineers is getting mgmt approval, you may
need to do some convincing that the end result will improve
productivity of their staff, etc.

Regarding the comments of regional "niceness" verses getting
constructive criticism, I agree that it is a challenge to get people
to tell you what's wrong with a product that they know you're
personally involved with. I've found that if you preface your
questions and let them know that you are seeking ways to fix things
this gives them the opportunity to speak freely. As they answer,
refrain from judging their comments (positive or negative) and they
will continue to offer suggestions. However, no matter what the
culture, I've found that observing what they do often yields the
greatest insights and is much more valuable that simple Q&A. So if
you can, have them do a specific task using the software and observe
what they're doing. Even better, try to observe them in their actual
environment for a reasonable length of time, be it office or home.
(yeah, I know, basic usability stuff, but limited budgets often
prevent studies from doing observational research).

A final thought, with the US being a melting-pot, I've also found
that the cultures of 1st and 2nd generation Americans are often a mix
of their family heritage and their unique American experiences, so
that's another layer to consider in addition to regions.

I hope you can share with the group the insights you'll no doubtly
gain post-study to let us know what you've found to be some of the
cultural nuances of the US.

-Kim

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30 Sep 2007 - 5:20pm
Cwodtke
2004

Kim Lenox wrote:
> Regarding the comments of regional "niceness" verses getting
> constructive criticism, I agree that it is a challenge to get people
> to tell you what's wrong with a product that they know you're
> personally involved with.
When I used to do usability studies, I used a pre-session speech cribbed
form Mike Kuniavsky which included "I did not design this, I was hired
to help evaluate this, you won't hurt my feelings if you criticize it."
If this is an outright lie, you might not want to include "I did not
design this" (if the last part is a lie, you might not want to run your
own studies.)

I agree completely with Kim. What people say and what they do are two
different things. it's good to closely observe both, and weight do over
say.

In regards to paying participants, I have definitely seen higher paid
jobs, as well as overworked jobs (doctor, social worker) often require
money to get them to participate. BUT sometimes you can get them at
places like conferences, outside of their everyday life schedule for free.

Sometimes I think the biggest challenge in the bay area is finding
participants who don't design, build or test software/websites for a
living.

~c

--
Christina Wodtke
Principal Instigator
415-577-2550

Business :: http://www.cucinamedia.com
Magazine :: http://www.boxesandarrows.com
Product :: http://www.publicsquarehq.com
Personal :: http://www.eleganthack.com
Book :: http://www.blueprintsfortheweb.com

cwodtke at eleganthack.com

30 Sep 2007 - 5:39pm
Jim Kauffman
2004

> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On
> Behalf Of Omri Eliav
> Sent: Sunday, September 30, 2007 5:07 PM
> To: discuss list
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Firs time in the USA
>
> The word here say that "American" will never invite you...
> Now I'll know how to deal with one. (Ok, not everywhere).

That's because we don't really want to know you if you're not on our
carefully vetted list of friends, but we pride ourselves on our warmth and
hospitality. Most American's don't comprehend the difference between
appearing sincere and actually being sincere.

30 Sep 2007 - 6:00pm
Joseph Selbie
2007

"In regards to paying participants, I have definitely seen higher paid
jobs, as well as overworked jobs (doctor, social worker) often require
money to get them to participate. BUT sometimes you can get them at
places like conferences, outside of their everyday life schedule for free.

Sometimes I think the biggest challenge in the bay area is finding
participants who don't design, build or test software/websites for a
living."

Reading this made me think about the sheer amount of time firms like mine
put into finding users to test interfaces and products. Does anyone know of
a firm that specializes in getting users identified, and lined up, so that a
firm like mine can work with them? This would potentially be very cost
effective for our clients.

Joseph Selbie
Founder, CEO Tristream
Web Application Design
http://www.tristream.com

~c

--
Christina Wodtke
Principal Instigator
415-577-2550

Business :: http://www.cucinamedia.com
Magazine :: http://www.boxesandarrows.com
Product :: http://www.publicsquarehq.com
Personal :: http://www.eleganthack.com
Book :: http://www.blueprintsfortheweb.com

cwodtke at eleganthack.com

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30 Sep 2007 - 6:24pm
Omri Eliav
2004

I think it's different in the in-house zone.
I know exactly where to find my users. And usually they really
appreciate when I come to *them*. The problem usually is to find the
budget for the tour, and maybe to convince the managers on the user
side to spend the time.

- Omri

On Oct 1, 2007, at 2:00 AM, Joseph Selbie wrote:

> Does anyone know of
> a firm that specializes in getting users identified, and lined up,
> so that a
> firm like mine can work with them?

30 Sep 2007 - 6:36pm
Joseph Selbie
2007

Yes, Omri, I agree completely. Some of our largest and most successful web
application design projects have been for in-house users, and their high
degree of availability and actual participation in the design process has
been a significant factor in the success of those applications.

Joseph Selbie

Founder, CEO Tristream

Web Application Design

http://www.tristream.com

From: Omri Eliav [mailto:omri at guiguy.co.il]
Sent: Sunday, September 30, 2007 5:25 PM
To: Joseph Selbie
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Firs time in the USA

I think it's different in the in-house zone.

I know exactly where to find my users. And usually they really appreciate
when I come to *them*. The problem usually is to find the budget for the
tour, and maybe to convince the managers on the user side to spend the time.

- Omri

On Oct 1, 2007, at 2:00 AM, Joseph Selbie wrote:

Does anyone know of

a firm that specializes in getting users identified, and lined up, so that a

firm like mine can work with them?

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