email us call +43-1-523 35 98-0 contact GP GP designpartners GP logo
a mirror of the »interface hall« of shame by this is a mirror of the »interface hall of shame« by isys information architects inc.

Globalization Tips

  • Recognize that language can greatly effect the length of text. For example, "Edit" becomes "Bearbeiten" in German, and "Lajittele nousevassa järjestyksessä" in Finnish.

  • Utilize user preferences for the formatting and display of dates, numbers, time, currency, etc.

  • Be consistent in your terminology. In addition to being good interface design, it also makes translation easier.

  • Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, idiomatic expressions, words that have multiple meanings, and slang.

  • Recognize that humor is very culture dependent, and typically does not translate well to other languages.

  • Avoid making comparative statements that position your product against the competition. In some countries this type of positioning is illegal.

  • Keep bitmaps simple. The more complex they are, the more difficult they are to decipher.

  • Avoid the use of letters in bitmaps and toolbar icons. The letters may not exist in the target language, and will often no longer reflect the intended function.

    Culturally-challenged icons

  • Avoid pictures of sports equipment, utensils, national monuments, or any symbols that might be unfamiliar to members of other cultures.

  • Recognize that the meanings attached to symbols is often culture dependent. For example, an owl is interpreted as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge in the United States, but is associated with witchcraft and black magic in certain Central American cultures.

  • Be cautious with representations of animals, religious and mythological symbols, national emblems, colors, people (especially racial, cultural, or gender stereotypes), hand gestures, and body language, which may be misinterpreted or may offend users in other countries.

  • Avoid using graphics that represent holidays or seasons, such as Christmas trees, pumpkins, or snow.

  • Be culturally sensitive when choosing sounds for use in your program. While some users may find it helpful to hear a beep when they make a mistake, users in Japan may find a beep embarrassing, in that it calls attention to their mistakes.

  • Avoid run-time concatenation of strings. Because of differences in syntax and sentence construction, concatenated strings often cannot be properly translated into other languages.

Back to Globalization Problems

© 1996-2000 Isys Information Architects Inc. All rights reserved.

Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited.

GP designpartners provide this mirror — for educational purposes only — as the interface hall of shame is no longer maintained or available at its original home, [a domain apparently abandoned and taken over by a search spammer ...].

you can view this file in its original layout: htglobal.htm.

please drop us a line if you happen to know anything about the whereabouts of brian c hayes of isys information architects, the author of this »interface hall of shame« [and fame].