Designing User Interfaces for International Use

Jakob Nielsen , 1990

Increasing technological sophistication in many countries and the resulting larger world trade has indicated a need to pay greater attention to the international aspects of user interfaces. Many American companies are approaching a situation where half of their sales are outside the United States, and companies in smaller countries often have a much larger proportion of their sales outside their own country. This means that software sales will increasingly depend on their international usability and not just their domestic usability. Seen from a user's perspective more than half of the world's software users will be using interfaces which were originally designed in a foreign country. Usability for this large market of users will depend upon increased awareness of the issues involved in designing user interfaces for international use. As if it wasn't hard enough to design user interfaces for use in Europe, there are a further set of problems connected with user interfaces for Asia. Both of these issues are examined in depth. This is the first publication of its kind to appear on the topic of international user interfaces, and presents both general guidelines and a number of detailed case studies on the many aspects entailed. The book will be of considerable interest to project managers, lecturers, students, developers of basic software and user interface designers.

Edited by Jakob Nielsen, published by Elsevier Science Publishers, ISBN 0-444-88428-9.

Table of Contents

Preface, Jakob Nielsen, Technical University of Denmark


1. Internationalization and Translation: Some Guidelines for the Design of Human-Computer Interfaces, Elisa del Galdo, Digital Equipment Corporation

  • Cultural Differences and Local Conventions
    • Character Sets
    • Collating Sequences
    • Numeric Formats
    • Date Formats
    • Currency Formats
    • Time Formats
    • Telephone Numbers
  • Design of Software Interface
    • Icons and Symbols
    • The Use of Colour
    • Screen Text
    • Menu Accelerators and their Documentation

2. Transnational Symbols: The Rule of Pictograms and Models in the Learning Process, Jakob Ossner, Pedagogical Institute of Heidelberg

  • The Problems Involved
  • General Theory of Signs
  • Non-Arbitrary Signs
  • Non-Arbitrary Signs in the Learning Process
  • Pictograms and Models in CBT

3. Usability Testing of International Interfaces, Jakob Nielsen, Technical University of Denmark

4. A European Evaluation of Three Document Formats for Hardware Installation Guides, Elisa del Galdo, Digital Equipment Corporation

5. Two Faces of America: Polyglot and Tongue-Tied, Robert C. Sprung, Harvard Translations

  • Xerox: Creating a Global Standard
  • Total Solutions: BBN/Slate and ILA
  • Lotus: Pioneer in Internalization
  • Internationalizing Output: Adobe and Bitstream
  • Internationalizing Input: Articulate Systems
  • Unix Solutions
  • News From the Translation Front

6. ARRIS: Redesigning a User Interface for International Use, Matthew C. Peterson, Sigma Design, Inc.

  • The ARRIS Product
  • International Requirements
  • Character Sets
  • Messages
  • Menus
  • Project Milestones
  • Future Issues

7. Hypertext — Towards the Single Intellectual Market, Patricia Baird, University of Strathclyde

  • Hypertext
  • Interactive/User-Driven Systems
  • Glasgow Online
  • Transparent/Seamless Environment
  • Orientation
  • Guiding Clues
  • System Testing
  • Button/Icon Recognition
  • Translation
  • Semantic Models
  • Read and Write Systems
  • Overload
  • Future Enhancements

8. Creating International Applications: A Hands-On Approach using the Hewlett-Packard NLS Package, Dave Taylor, Intuitive Systems

  • The Problem of International Software
  • The Three Most Common Avenues of Solution
  • Other Aspects of Software Internationalization
  • The Hewlett-Packard Native Language Support System, a Closer Look
  • Salary Analysis, A Sample NLS Program
  • The Missing Pieces of NLS
  • British English
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Asian and other 16-Bit Languages

9. International User Interface for INFOFLEX, Jakob Peter Nielsen, Data Reforming

  • Solutions
  • Implementation
    • Resource Files
    • Resource Editor
    • Resource Compiler & Database
    • Resource Server
    • Application Programs
  • Conclusions
    • Implementation Status
    • Performance
    • Application Development
    • Future User Interfaces

10. User Interfaces for Asia, Piyawadee Sukaviriya and Lucy Moran, The George Washington University

  • Social-Culture: An Essential User Interface Factor
  • Verbal and Visual Communication in Asian Countries
    • Verbal Communication
      • Example Case of Thai Language
      • Computer Display of Asian Language Scripts: Static Display
      • Computer Display of Asian Language Scripts: Dynamic Feedback
      • Difference in Perception
  • User Interface Context
    • Command Language Interface
    • Natural Language Interface
    • Graphical Interface
    • Other Interfaces
    • Conceptual Feedback
  • Experiment on Cross-Cultural Influences o Command Language Syntax Preference
    • Hypotheses, Dependent and Independent Variables
    • Subjects
    • Experimental Design and Procedure
    • Data and Data Analysis
    • Summary of Experiment

11. International User Interfaces, Rosalie A. Zobel-Pocock, Commission of the European Communities

  • Requirements of Multi-Lingual Operating Systems
  • Requirements of Multi-Lingual Applications
  • Existing International Systems
  • Internationalization of Unix System V
  • Example of Japanese Language Input Method
  • Future International Interfaces


Author affiliations given as of the date the chapters were written.

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