International user studies: How companies collect and present data about users on international markets
Download the report here
In this report, we present the results of a research project about international user studies.
The project has been carried out by researchers from the Center for Persona Research and –Application, The IT University in Copenhagen and the Department of Learning and Philosophy, Aalborg University.
Based on a qualitative interview study with 15 user researchers from 11 different companies, we have investigated how companies collect and present data about users on international markets
Companies do not collect data about end users in all the countries/regions they operate in.
Instead, they focus on a few strategic markets. Key findings are:
- Companies do not collect data about end users in all the countries/regions they operate in. Instead, they focus on a few strategic markets.
- International user studies tend to be large-scale studies that involve the effort of many both internal and external/local human resources. The studies typically cover 2-4 countries/regions and many end users in each country/region.
- The preferred data collection method is . If possible, user researchers choose to go to the field themselves and gain rich insights and to control the data collection process.
- The preferred data collection method is
- The main insights companies gain from international user studies are (1) that there are many similarities among end users across nationalities and (2) that it often is more important to focus on and take differences in market conditions into account than national culture per se.
- Companies are in the process of finding out how to best present the insights about their international end users to their employees. However, so far, no best practice for incorporating both national cultural differences and cross-cultural similarities into personadescriptions, segmentations, etc. has been found.
Invitation to seminar, 26 August 2014, IT University of Copenhagen
We invite companies with an interest in international markets, users, and personas to a seminar on international user studies. At the seminar we will present the results from our latest research project on how Danish companies do International User Studies and in line with that work with International Personas.
Date: Tuesday 26 August 2014 Time: 13.00–16.00
Place: The IT University of Copenhagen
Rued Langgaardsvej 7, 2300 Copenhagen S
(Room to be announced)
Price: Participation is free of charge but registration is necessary
Registration: Register at InfinITs website
Deadline: Friday 22. August
Changes and similarities in the application of the method
Even though this survey was done as independent research with interviews in 12 core companies, it is interesting to compare with the previous study done in 2009 to see if there are changes in the application of the method
Before doing so it is important to stress that the surveys are different in focus, they have different questionnaires, and the previous survey did not include questions on personas in an international perspective.
A global challenge
When creating persona descriptions the companies who have an international target group find the international perspective challenging.
V8: “One is from Frankfurt am Main, one is from Poland, and one is from Norway. […] we had actually decided that we want personas from around the world in order to create a broad representation of users and touch points. Whereupon we asked the question: “Do we need personas from around the world?” to our reference group. They were of the same opinion, because it makes sense as we sell to everywhere in the world [ …] the countries were not chosen coincidental, they were chosen because of their substance – if they were representative, if they covered a lot of countries.”
The specific international differences that are perceived as relevant are:
- IT competences
- Access to Internet
- Language abilities
- Differences in company autonomy/managerial responsibilities
- Level of education
How Danish companies apply personas
This report is based on a project initiated and financed by Infinit – the IT Innovation Network.
The report is based on 18 interviews with 28 participants from 13 companies, obtained from December 2012 until January 2013.
The aim of the project is to investigate how personas are established, communicated, used, and maintained in Danish companies, and, from the survey, to extract recommendations on how to develop, design, and use personas.
The persona method has developed from being a method for IT system development to being used in many other contexts, including development of products, marketing, planning of communication, and service design. Despite the fact that the method has existed since the late 1990s, there is still no clear definition of what the method encompasses. Common understanding is that the persona is a description of a fictitious person, but whether this description is based on assumptions or data is not clear, and opinions also differ on what the persona description should cover. Furthermore, there is no agreement on the benefits of the method in the design process; the benefits are seen as ranging from increasing the focus on users and their needs, to being an effective communication tool, to having direct design influence, such as leading to better design decisions and defining the product’s feature set (Cooper, 1999; Cooper et al, 2007; Grudin & Pruitt, 2002; Long, 2009;Ma & LeRouge, 2007; Miaskiewicz & Kozar, 2011; Pruitt & Adlin, 2006).
Read more at http://interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/personas.html