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Designing for Diversity: Cultural Sensitivity in UI/UX Design for India

The need to design for diverse user expectations

When creating a product, UI/UX design studios attempt to strike a perfect balance between aesthetics and usability. The first goal is subjective, while the second depends on the user’s perceptions, expectations, and, in some cases, shortcomings. Even while designing for a homogenous audience, satisfying every user is not an easy task. It becomes even more challenging when the target market is multicultural.

This is particularly true of India. With its marked diversity in almost every aspect of life, the country presents unique challenges – and opportunities – for UI/UX specialists keen to make a mark in the industry. The hallmark of the best UI/UX design agencies in India is their capability to fulfill wildly different user expectations without sacrificing the product’s usability, attractiveness, or modernity.


Understanding diversity

In India, language is easily the most visible and understandable differentiating factor. However, there are other critical aspects. The reasons may be cultural or social, but what’s true is that there are glaring differences in the way people across the country view a product. For User Interface design companies, the primary need is to think of universally simple and intuitive ideas. Images that appear awesome for a group of people may be considered irrelevant — or worse, inappropriate for others. The same is true of iconography. Different people may associate icons with different meanings. Even the order in which the elements are laid out can confuse some people who are used to doing things in a particular way.

Factors to consider


  • Language
    The fastest growing user base is not in the metropolises, where English is commonly used, understood, or even preferred. It’s the smaller
    cities that represent future opportunities. Here, it’s essential to communicate in a language that users are comfortable with. Translation
    of the text is the first step, but it must be done with a few things in mind:
  • The length: When the same message is rendered in a different language, will it take more space or less? The visual character of the design may suffer if the length is not comparable.
  • The tone: It’s possible that the text connotes a different feeling when translated from one language to another. Does the translated text follow the same tone?
  • Appropriateness: Idioms and language-specific sentence formations are tricky. Machine translations are notoriously bad, with the translated message conveying a totally opposite meaning.
  • Jargon: It’s better to stick to technical terms that the users are familiar with (even if they’re in English), rather than obscure translations which may be linguistically correct but difficult to comprehend.
  • Sensitiveness
    If you think geographically close communities act in similar ways, think again. Designs that must be acceptable to multiple groups must factor in their apparent similarities as well as the not-so-obvious differences. Customs and traditions are sensitive topics, and what is acceptable to a group may alienate a neighboring one. Users’ social background is another critical area, and it’s better to steer clear of ideas that may be construed as disrespectful to a particular group of people.
  • Localization
    It may be impractical to craft a single template with a universal appeal. If the design can accommodate location-specific configurations, it can go a long way in delighting customers. Depending on the product, the level of localization can be chosen – it could be the region, state, city, or even a locality within a city. Of course, the additional complexity of creating and maintaining such variations must be considered.
  • Photos, videos, and audio
    If images or other multimedia content containing photos are used, it’s crucial to ensure they strike a chord with the customer. Pictures of people of another age group or race can dissuade users. The same is true of videos or audio. Unfamiliar accents must be avoided with voice-overs.
  • Accessibility
    It’s imperative to make the product accessible to all users, regardless of their abilities or impairments. UX design companies must incorporate accessibility needs right from the ideation stage. While the product is tuned to offer comprehensive usability, it must not ignore the needs of people with disabilities. This will make the design truly trans-cultural and universal.
Creating designs for diversity

Making designs that fulfill every possible user expectation may appear impossible. Yet, a few approaches, followed by the best UI/UX design studios in India and other countries, deliver foolproof results.

  • Understanding users (and their uniqueness)
    Design processes typically start with the definition of a persona. This requires substantial effort and deliberation when designing for a diverse audience. Personas may be ineffective when the users are too heterogenous to be pigeonholed into a few models. While making the persona broader in scope may defeat the primary purpose, multiple or complex personas will overwhelm the designer.Though some teams may feel they collectively possess sufficient knowledge of various cultures, research is essential. It unearths critical, finer aspects. It provides a reasonably reliable and comprehensive account of users, their needs, and their wants. UI/UX design agencies employ both qualitative and quantitative research tools, including interviews, web analytics, and academic studies.
  • UX audits
    Getting the current product or design evaluated by a UX expert is an extremely beneficial exercise. It enables an objective, 360° assessment, highlighting the areas that impact the usability. UX audit agencies can identify possible pitfalls and help designers tweak the product to suit varied needs. UX audits minimize expensive and time-consuming redesign efforts and, in effect, speed up product launches.
  • Prototyping and testing
    Testing is a vital step in the UX design cycle. When real-world users try the product, their feedback is a genuine indication of their experience. The key is, however, creating a representative group of testers – the more diverse they are, the better. Tests may need to be iterative to iron out biases and user-specific variations. When planned and run systematically, tests can reveal how the design stacks up against wide-ranging usage patterns.
About Ambian

Looking for cross-cultural design ideas that deliver? Talk to us. Ambian Studio is among the top UI/UX design companies in India. Our team is driven by a passion for excellence. We love building new-age user experience strategies for businesses keen to benefit from futuristic thinking. With our customer-focused approach, agility, and positive attitude, we fulfill the exacting needs of global organizations. Our services span the entire UX spectrum, addressing the unique challenges and expectations of startups, mid-size companies, and enterprises.

Author avatar
Mathuram N, Lead UX Strategist, Ambian