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Global Design Programme

For multinational companies seeking to balance global and local design needs.

For global organisations with customers in a myriad of different cultures and locations, figuring out what matters in each, and what may create positive or negative responses, is no simple matter. Reach School has developed a structured approach that enables companies to successfully engage local markets on a global scale. We teach the design teams, product owners and others involved how to apply the approach and implement an effective and sustainable Global Design Process.

Investigation and tool selection

In a series of interviews with the people involved in global design we find out which challenges you face and which global and local knowledge teams possess. We examine existing channels of learning, attitudes toward global design, and the existing global design process. This culminates in a report on the current practice in Global Design in your organisation, and lays the groundwork for the upcoming training sessions. We then create a set of tools specifically for your company and its markets, in the form of extremely precise, practically oriented documents which design teams and others use to structure their conversations about meaningful differences and to direct their work.

Learning and evaluation

We have developed a three-level conceptual framework that enables all participants to better understand how effective global design happens and where their own practice fits in. Participants first learn how to to identify, interpret and work with meaningful cultural differences in the information provided by various sources, including marketers, ethnographers and others. We guide participants through a number of intensive exercises in which they apply the tools to their existing design work, together with their colleagues. The effect of the training is measured with an evaluation matrix closely aligned to the concrete goals that have been established in advance. The evaluation includes visualizations of the most important feedback from participants.

Case study

Millions of people in more than a hundred countries now use Ebay’s sites and apps every day. These visitors represent a myriad of different cultures. Knowing precisely how to tailor its user experience for them is critical to the success of eBay.

This is no simple matter. The choices sellers and buyers make during a customer journey to take the next step, to trust a proposition or not, to continue or break off a transaction, happen within a split second and are often motivated by minute design features these website visitors are not consciously aware of. Figuring out which features those are, and which cultural differences in which locations cause which positive or negative responses to them, is critical to the continuing success of eBay.

In collaboration with eBay’s Design Research and Strategy team, STBY (London & Amsterdam) and Apogee (Hong Kong) created a practice-oriented approach to global UX design that enables design teams and researchers to filter out the most important insights about cultural differences, and apply these early on to their designs. The entails a structured way to look at designs through the eyes of end-users of different cultures and make hands-on changes based on a solid understanding of the effect they will have on the user experience.

Guided and structured facilitation by a team from STBY (London & Amsterdam) and Apogee (Hong Kong) helped participants to practice on a range of design examples, some pre-prepared and some brought along from projects by participants. The approach was underpinned by a Global Design framework specially developed for eBay in the run-up to the training.

As we prepared for the training, whilst studying local cultures, current market and design knowledge, and technical UI standards as applied to localisation, it became increasingly clear that no material existed on how to take steps to practice local interpretation as applied to design examples. So this was a pioneering effort. Because of the length and intensity of the training sessions, we also devoted special attention to didactic design, to avoid excessive cognitive or visual overload, so participants could devote all their energy to the task at hand, and not succumb to fatigue as the day progressed.

The responses to the workshop are very positive. We feel we’ve helped eBay’s teams take an important first step towards connecting design and research to form a truly effective global practice. And we’re convinced that this new approach to global design is widely applicable for companies who serve local markets on a global scale.