1 Introduction

The developers usually develop a system design according to their own culture neglecting other cultures. That confines the usability of the system only to the local users. Now days the companies have to compete in international market. For this purpose they have to create product for international users.

Metaphor varies from culture to culture. For example people living in China relate the red color with joy and happiness but in USA it has taken as sign of danger. Metaphors are designed in such a way that they help the users of target culture. People even use language metaphors in their daily life. With the help of metaphor the user can easily understand the complex systems. With the help of metaphors, users use their knowledge about real world items to understand software objects [4, 70].

2 Theoretical Background

There are lots of issues regarding cultural based design due to cultural differences of users [57, 64, 65]. Researchers are trying to find a way for improving the usability for users. Designers and researchers have worked on different methods for global interface design [5]. Few problems are discussed here. Byrne explains a process in [58] cited by [5] which named by GILT framework.

2.1 GILT Framework

GILT framework consists of Globalization, Internalization, Localization and Translation.

Globalization usually refers as production and consumption of products in all over the world. Globalization comprises issues at intercultural and local level. Globalization affects user-interface design, because for globally used products the designers have to develop interface for global users [59, 67].

Internationalization issues are about language, traditions, and political issues of different countries [59]. Internationalization does not require redesigning the user interface. It provides common way to understand user interface globally without redesigning it for each culture [60, 61] cited by [5].

Localization deals with the issues of small group of people, with same language and culture, and usually group of people which is smaller than a country. The websites are localized due to the difference in cultures of users [59]. Localizing a website according to the culture of target user is very appropriate [5]. The designers have to understand the language, traditions, beliefs and currency of target user in order to design localized website. There are few non- textual elements like images, navigation and metaphor which should be according to the target culture in localized interface.

Translation means transferring text from one language to another. Although language is considered main factor in localized websites but there are few more elements which are part of a culture. But there is lot of research which is about language translation [62, 63] cited by [5].

2.2 Metaphor

The word metaphor means “transport”. It is a Greek Word. It transfers a concept from a conceptual area to another area [42]. Metaphors are being used in different fields since very beginning [43]. Metaphor is not only about language, it is way of thinking [44]. Metaphors are unusual they needed to be defining in normal language usage [45]. They are related to the real world objects. Metaphor helps novice user to understand any system. Users can easily understand the metaphor using their real world knowledge and experiences. For example the recycle bin icon represents the image of trash bin and folder icon represents the image of cabinet or folder.

The use of metaphor in interaction design has not been valued [2]. Metaphors are not useful but they are harmful [20] in design. Metaphors are poorly designed because the designers are not aware of the concept that what metaphor is and how to use a metaphor [1]. Those metaphors that are not properly well designed and don’t provide any help to the users are useless. However the well designed metaphors and proper metaphor at proper place can help users. Folders although do not exist physically as they are shown on icon image but they provide an easy way to understand their function by their icon.

There are many people opposing user-interface metaphors, giving different point of view on their problems. There are different types of metaphors which have been criticized like desktop metaphor [30, 31], the litter bin metaphor [29], the document metaphor [32], and metaphors for the websites [33, 68, 69].

Metaphors have different types there are verbal metaphors, virtual metaphors, and complex metaphors. The metaphors are also categorized as universal metaphors and local metaphors. Most of the metaphors are cultural based. Websites are designed with the combination of Colors, fonts, icons and metaphors, language and animations. These things if well designed according the culture of target user can attract user. On the other hand the website can not provide the required results if all these things are designed without keeping in mind the culture of target user.

People of different cultures associate their feelings with different colors. The following color’s chart represents the meaning of colors in different cultures (Fig. 1) [1, 21]. Colors have influence on user’s prospect about navigation, links, and content, as well as overall satisfaction. If a company is designing a website for French users they may not use the green color, because French people relate the green color with criminality. On the other hand, if they are designing website to attract the Egyptian and Middle Eastern users, they may use green color as green has a positive association for them.

Fig. 1.
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Color-culture chart

2.3 Metaphor and Culture

All the interfaces of computer represent metaphors [22] cited by [3]. Gannon argued that only dimensional approach is not enough. A more content-rich or stranded approach should be added in it, like cultural metaphors [23, 70]. Cultural metaphor is some exclusive or distinctive trend or action that expresses a nation’s values.

Normally the people from other culture have difficulty to understand localized metaphor of a specific culture. A member of community can express more emotions about its local metaphor [24]. In Chinese culture the language metaphors are very prominent. Because Chinese culture has great impact on its language [25]. The work done in [27] direct designers to consider user as tourist. According to Lakoff and Johnson “metaphor is a way of conceiving of one thing in terms of another, and its primary function is understanding” [26].

C. Stephanidis and D. Akoumianakis argued in [28] that multiple metaphor environments are required from the variety of users, the changing of background of use and the changing in interaction platforms, all these things make essential changes in the design.

Metaphors reflect thinking of people their language and their culture. Therefore they can be use to explore their thoughts and language [34]. H. Alverson argued in [35] that TIME IS SPACE metaphor can be seen in different languages like English, Mandarin Chinese. Many other researchers also argued that this metaphor issued in many other languages.

2.4 Cultural Impacts on User Interface

The impact of culture in user interface is [12] controversial. Those that are in favor of using culture in user interface are not clear about which type of culture should be used. The other point of view which is not in favor of using culture cited by G. Ford and P. Kotzé, In which they argue that an interface design which accommodate Hofsted’s dimensions would provide a more usable interface than the interface which does not accommodate these dimensions.

2.5 Cultural Markers

The work by [6] cited by [5] describes cultural markers as cultural attractors. Cultural markers [8] cited by [10] are combination of fonts, colors, icons, navigation, images, language and metaphors. Cultural markers reflect the signs of local culture in website. The work done by [46] cited in [5] proved with by using two mock websites and found the cultural markers have very helpful effects on user’s performance.

Culture has great impact when designing metaphors. The most apparent [7] aspect in which metaphor is changed is the cross-cultural aspect. Different “cultural markers” are identified in [36] after exploring many websites of different regions and cultures. They suggested that using cultural markers can develop the usability.

2.6 Culturability

The term “culturability” was used by [8] cited by [10] which is combination of “culture” and “usability”. They used cultural markers to assist the user. Sun interviewed people to examine how cultural markers [11] effect usability of websites. She concluded that people prefer cultural markers in their own culture.

2.7 Semiotics

Semiotics, are signs and symbols. The studies by [9, 3739] cited by [5] found that the designers design icons, menus, symbols, colors, language according to their own culture to represent cultural specific things. People from different cultures prefer their cultural specific signs or symbols [40].

The researchers chose the AVIS website in [4] to examine the cultural differences in website, they chose it because it was an international application. They find that AVIS is leading car rental brand that is operating in more than 2,100 locations. AVIS has a USA-based Global website and 50 localized versions for countries around the world (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2.
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Localized website

2.8 Cultural Models

There are several cultural models they provide more detailed aspects of culture. These models [14] cited by [12] identify cultural dimensions. J. Anjum mentioned four cultural models [19], which were developed by Victor, Hall, Trompenaars and Hofstede following [13, 1618] tables shows these cultural models [19] (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3.
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Cultural dimensions

All these models have their cultural dimensions. Hofstede cultural model has five dimensions. All these dimensions are about subjective culture. It is very popular model in cultural dimensions. Hofstede used 116,000 questionnaires from over 60,000 respondents in his work [13, 47, 48] cited by [49]. He designed five dimensions, collectivism vs. individualism, femininity vs. masculinity, long vs. short-term orientation, power distance and uncertainty avoidance. These dimensions are used in comparison of cultures, to help in study of culture and as a cultural framework [50]. Hofstede used a work oriented approach and use his framework to groups of workers, it is being used largely in business studies [5156].

3 Conclusion

All the work which has mentioned above shows that culture has great impact on user interface. Although there are few thoughts which are against the accommodation of culture in user interface. Culture has also great impact on metaphor. User prefers metaphor, semiotics and cultural markers in their own culture. The work done by different researchers show that metaphors are really helpful for user. However the designers are still not successful in designing a general user interface for all cultures. The designers design user interface according to their own culture without keeping in mind the target culture. There is more work needed to find such user interface that works for different cultures.