Getting the Picture: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Chinese and Western Users’ Preferences for Image Types in Manuals for Household Appliances

Qian Li*, Menno D.T. de Jong, Joyce Karreman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticleProfessional

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Research shows that Western and Chinese user instructions use visuals differently. Two basic tendencies may be discerned: Chinese manuals place more emphasis on visuals and their selection of visuals is less strictly confined to usability related functionality. This study investigates whether such cultural differences correspond to user preferences. Three hypotheses were tested: (a) Chinese users value pictures more than Western users; (b) Chinese users appreciate diverting, cartoon-like pictures more than Western users; and (c) Western users appreciate strictly instrumental pictures more than Chinese users. To test these hypotheses, a quasi-experiment (N = 158) was conducted with cultural background as independent variable and appreciation for pictures as dependent variable. All participants rated 15 pictures, which were presented in the context of user instructions. All three hypotheses were confirmed. Cultural differences regarding the use of visuals should therefore be taken into account when localizing Western manuals for the Chinese market, or vice versa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages137-158
Number of pages22
Volume51
No.2
Specialist publicationJournal of technical writing and communication
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • cross-cultural communication
  • cultural differences
  • usability
  • user experience
  • user instructions
  • visuals

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