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Cultural Differences and User Instructions: Will Minimalist Manuals Work for Chinese Users?

Xiao, Xiaoxin (2018) Cultural Differences and User Instructions: Will Minimalist Manuals Work for Chinese Users?

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Abstract:Purpose: Studies show that Western and Chinese communicators design user manuals in different ways, but it is not known if Western and Chinese users benefit more from documents that are designed in their own cultures. This paper attempts to systematically explore the effects of manuals that are created on the basis of Minimalist principles on Chinese users and Western users. It investigates whether Chinese users benefit from a Minimalist manual as much as Western users do. Method: A quantitative and qualitative study is conducted with SwipeGuide Minimalist manual for Satinelle Prestige BRE-650, a Philips epilation device for different body parts, such legs, arms, underarms, and so on. The cultural background (Western versus Chinese) is the independent variable. Users’ motivation and usability of the manuals are the dependent variables. The quantitative method is adopted to evaluate users’ motivation and usability. The qualitative method is applied to analyze users’ perception of the Minimalist manuals in terms of documentation elements: structure, writing style, visual design and error information. 48 participants (24 Chinese and 24 Westerners) were recruited to perform eight tasks using the manuals and then were required to fill out two questionnaires measuring motivation and usability. Finally, an average 25-minute in-depth interview was conducted to examine their attitude towards the manual. Results: Quantitative results show that the Minimalist manual works better for Western users than Chinese users in terms of usability and attention. Nevertheless, qualitative results reveal that except for structure logic (whether the way of presenting information is chronological or non- chronological), no cultural differences are found between Chinese and Western groups in terms of structure, writing style, visual design and error information of the Minimalist manual. Conclusion: This study indicates that the influence of cultures in technical documentation may have been overrated and the user manual designed in accordance with Minimalist principles, to some extent, also works for Chinese users. For future researches, more technical documentation elements and more specific Minimalist principles can be explored and compared.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/76520
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