Two tips for successfully preparing research materials for global studies

December 14, 2021

Global user experience (UX) research comes with unique challenges that require planning and consideration. One area to focus on is how a study’s research materials and testing environments will be prepared. While most teams allocate for the translation of some study materials, there are other factors such as localization, differences in use environments, and further translation needs that are easy to overlook, but can cause complications when not addressed during the preparation phase.

Study materials should be not only translated, but localized.
Preparing research materials like a moderator’s guide goes beyond having an accurate translation for sessions. Tasks and questions need to be localized as well to ensure that they are not only translated correctly but can be understood in a familiar way by local participants. A moderator’s guide that is translated but not localized might not address the right questions or ask them in the right way, even if it is perfectly correct from a linguistic perspective.

Consider translation needs, and how long they will take.
If your study involves local teams executing research across the globe and your stakeholders will be watching remotely, there are a few important things to consider. If stakeholders plan to watched streamed sessions conducted in a foreign language, you will need to plan simultaneous translation. It’s also important to anticipate the translation of study data: it’s one thing to translate selected quotes and audio clips, but translating an entire datasheet from one language to another (if needed by stakeholders) is a long and tedious process that won’t always fit within a project’s typical timeframe.

Anticipate differences in use environments.
Localization is also important for setting up the simulated environment in which the research will be conducted. Use environments can differ by country or region and can impact the design of devices and packaging, as well as the way that study participants will interact with them. In pharmacies in the United States, for instance, drugs are stored on shelves. In the European Union (EU), they are stored in drawers. How packaging is designed will likely depend on where it’s going to be marketed, which in turn should impact how the use environment is simulated for research.

In a global study, our team was testing the design of a mechanical syringe pump that would be mounted to an IV pole adjacent to a patient bed. In the US, IV poles aren’t designated to one specific side of the bed but can be placed on either side. In the EU, IV poles tend to be placed on a specific side of the bed, and so syringe pumps in the EU tend to have the syringe mounted vertically along one side of the box of the mechanical pump, so as not to obscure the pump interface when viewing from the opposite side of the bed. This difference in use environments between the US and EU had specific implications for the design of the syringe pump itself, but equally as important (at least for the purposes of conducting simulated use research) was that we needed to plan for this difference in how we constructed our simulated use environments when conducting research in each market.

Two ways to prepare study materials for global research

Two decades of global research have taught our teams to plan for the unexpected. Whether it’s by allocating additional time for data translation or anticipating design challenges that arise from unique conventions across countries, you can be better prepared by:

Strategizing for localization and translation.

Teams should discuss what types of translation and localization of sessions and data are needed and anticipate how much time to allocate for those tasks throughout the study.

Reaching out to local teams to strategize testing environments.

Asking questions and communicating clearly to define the specifics of regional environments and processes related to the product being tested will identify changes to the session setup and design that need to be made.

Don’t miss the other global research blogs in this series for more great tips!

Twenty years of global research have taught us (sometimes the hard way) that challenges can arise when prepping devices or other products for international research.

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One of the biggest hurdles to a smoothly-run global research project is the planning of logistics.

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