Facebook user interface design to suit the Saudi Arabian culture.
Authors: Almakky, H.
Culture affects the preferences of users and their expectations of the elements found in the user interfaces of programs. This study investigates the influence of culture, as well as the specific experience and expectations of Saudi Arabian users, with respect to the design of the user interface of the Arabic version of Facebook. As the Arabic version of Facebook has issues with the engagement of users, this research therefore sought to develop a deeper understanding of the causes of this and to propose viable solutions. This involved a comprehensive examination of the implications of translating user- interface elements from one language to another, looking in particular at the specific cultural needs of Saudi Arabian users, with the intention of improving users’ engagement. This study uses an interpretivist research based on the social construction that was utilised in data collection, consisting of interviews and two sequential questionnaires. The main issues identified in the design of the Facebook user interface were the icons and page layout. The current icon images were shown to be unfamiliar and difficult for Saudi users to understand. This was exacerbated by the labels used, which were also found to be too abstract to be meaningful. Regarding the page layout, the alignments were mixed and inconsistent, the positions of elements were horizontally displayed, the pages were too complicated for effective navigation, and the list of options was too long, adversely affecting comprehension. In addition, there were many language errors in the translated Arabic version. These issues led to confusion and overload among Saudi users, causing stress when navigating through the pages. These factors combined to contribute to a lack of engagement with the Arabic version among Saudi users. The consequences of this experience on users’ behaviour was also investigated. First, some users were found to confine their interaction with Facebook to the home page and to avoid the setting page. Many users expressed a preference for the English version of Facebook over the Arabic version, although some acclimated to the use of the Arabic version, while others migrated to other social media platforms. The findings show that application of the localisation theory demonstrates that user interfaces designed for one culture cannot always be easily modified to suit another culture without significant modification. Therefore, this research has contributed to the knowledge through the development of design guidelines to aid designers in the creation of a more suitable Arabic version of Facebook. Based on the above findings, this design guidelines proposes to guide user interface designers to incorporate elements that take into account cultural issues into the user interface.