Embedding Cultures into UX Design

A master thesis on UX design for empowering a better coherence and cohesion between different cultures.


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Finding a solution for cultural differences through design

The collision of cultural values is the everlasting challenge of global society that needs to be resolved as humanity takes its lightning step into the age of globalisation. UX design is also under this influence.

UX design is linked to user values


UX design is all about user value. And the user value differs fundamentally from culture to culture.

Human mental programmes, mind-sets and core values are different across cultures. UX design is developed around the cornerstone of such psychological values of its target groups.

Hence, designers need to be conscious of such diverse cultural values when developing cross-cultural experience so that they can achieve satisfactory usability.


Design process for multiple cultural groups requires an extensive approach.

Interactive kiosk


Interactive kiosks such as ticket machines and ATMs are locally owned but have a high proportion of international customers. Research through design with interactive kiosks shape the thesis and participants from two cultures, Germany and South Korea, engage in the research.

Cross-cultural Diamond Process

A new Double Diamond Process is presented. It also includes an empirical demonstration of how to bring intangible pleasure to both cultures through an understanding of value in subjective depth.

As a result, this study presents a new direction on how to effectively yield encouraging outcome from cross-cultural designs.

Image by Sam Balye

1. Cultural compromise of globalised design

General design

The general design is defined based on the mental model of the users of both cultures, the compromise on their different expectations and the international standard ISO. The value of each cultural group is determined through in-depth user research.

Cognitive psychology

Each unit is developed according to cognitive psychology, e.g., recall memory, subconscious, short-term memory, and Gestalt theory, which apply to all humankind regardless of culture.


2. Cross-cultural pictogram system

Pictograms create bridges of understanding. It's a big advantage that mental models and subconscious knowledge can be called up.

Active participation of the users

Participants in the two cultural groups were given task sheets, where they interpreted and drew their own pictograms for each term used in train ticket machines.

The collected drawings were compared between the cultures and the one that had the highest similarities with each other was selected and reconstructed.


3. Interactive elements

Visual hierarchy, Consistency, Affordance, magical number seven, etc, interactive elements are constructed based on cognitive psychology. It is valid for every mankind, irrespective of culture.

Their size is no smaller than 44x30 px, according to MIT Touch Lab research and Clark&Frost.

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4. Cross-cultural Diamond Process

This thesis demonstrates the process of developing UX designs for two different cultural groups.

Why new Diamond Process ?

The Double Diamond Process from Design Council is a pioneer of the traditional UX design process and has been playing an active part in various UX design projects across the world. But the two cultural groups in the study were those without cultural connection to each other, so their issues differed fundamentally.

Therefore, a broader scale of penetrating user research and a comparison of the results were necessary.

So the idea of the existing Double Diamond process was adopted, and the Cross-cultural Diamond Process was developed, transforming it into a new approach.



The purpose of this step is to diagnose each cultural group's own problems and gain general insights. User research is conducted.

The purpose of this step is to deduce common needs, find compromises, systematically rank, and prioritise understanding. The key is to uncover commonalities between the two cultures that bring benefits to problem solving through visualised behavioural patterns.





Usability tests should be conducted iteratively with users from both cultural groups to evaluate the design and implement ability of services that have not yet been specified.



Designers define unique problems and backgrounds of each cultural group and pinpoints where the focus needs to be. It is a process of prioritisation in order to focus on higher value areas. 

Simultaneously, a point of confluence or a junction is created between the two diamonds by comparing the two aspects. Minimising disagreements and seeking the most suitable compromise are key.



Ideas are generated to solve issues based on previous approaches.

After the issues that need to be fixed have been derived from the previous diamonds, the most effective design should be applied to solve these issues.