Generative Research Techniques Crossing Cultures: A Field Study in China

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The value of understanding user needs has been recognized by industry, and user research methods have become an accepted part of industrial design practice. These techniques were originally developed and tested for Western markets, with participants from Western cultures. More recently, companies developing goods and services for the Chinese market realize that these goods have to fit the needs of Chinese users. Like the products, the techniques for involving participants in research may also need to be adjusted. Many of the current techniques make use of social interaction forms that are more common in the West than in China. In this paper, we describe our experiences with applying contextmapping, a well-documented set of generative user research techniques, critically review the techniques using cultural theories, present modifications of the techniques, and evaluate these modified techniques in the field with a commercial design context. We discuss how cultural parameters are used to help understand local social interactions. The results show that the modified techniques fitting the local culture made generative user research successful in China.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)04-21
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural and Creative Industries
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Contextmapping
  • Generative techniques
  • User study
  • Cultural differences
  • Co-design


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