Friday, April 4, 2008

Recognizing cultural behavior

At the recent eMetrics Toronto conference I was presenting on a panel with Joseph Carrabis & Simon Rivard from, moderated by Alex Langshur of PublicInsite:
People from different cultures use websites in different ways. Analysis of web data requires sensitivity to these cultural differences. Mouse movements, navigation habits, and language nuances require “localization” rather than mere translation. Learn how cultural segmentation will yield better results and an improved customer experience.
Here's a couple of things I wanted to highlight in my presentation.

What is culture?

Culture is traditionally defined by the codes of conduct, language, art, rituals, morality, norms passed from generation to generation.

But culture is also growing/controlling bacterias in a Petri dish... (my wife works in a lab). By understanding the mechanism behind the patterns, we can learn how to outsmart the bacteria - for example with their communication or environment - in our ongoing battle for our health (or business objective...)

But why is culture so important? Because it makes us "feel fine and welcomed"!

Culture & emotions

Then I presented a cool project called "We feel fine", by Jonathan Harris & Sep Kamvar. They call it "an exploration of human emotions on a global scale". Culture transpire into blog posts, but that's not all: geographic location, gender, age, weather also influence what will be talked about on the web. My take is that culture will influence how we use the web, but our changing emotions will also make a huge difference!

Language is not culture

Merely translating a site from English to French is far from enough to really consider different cultures. Most sites will simply ask for a company, assuming everyone share the same culture attributes (and of course, the same language). Most sites are really doing a bad job of asking location/language, some others are a bit more successful. I used a few automobile sites to make my point. But being a man... what's more "cultural" than the definition of beauty. So I used L'Oréal as an example of adapting for cultural differences through imagery, language and adapting their offering.


When developing personas and our persuasion architecture, it's important to consider the differences in stereotypes between, say, the North-American and European cultures if we want to cater to those profiles. To make my point, I showed a series of "attributes" as highlighted by Pascal Beaudry.

Where's Waldo?

But in the end, am I just another French-speaking guy from Québec-city or am I unique among others, why my own cultural background, my own emotions, my own identity?