When doing international usability studies, it’s worth the extra to find a translator who not only knows the native language but is fluent in the local culture. In this way they can also translate the true meaning of what participants are saying about your product and how it fits into their world because they understand the nuances of that world.
Further, you’ll increase rapport by having a person on the research team with whom the participant can identify. Rapport is critical in any research situation because the respondent will not share their thoughts and feelings unless they feel comfortable. This feeling of trust and comfort are especially critical when dealing with sensitive research such as studies in the participant’s home or if they are disclosing very personal information.
The best translator has skills in each language and understands each culture. Ideally, the translator has lived in the United States so they understand our slang and how we live. They should have experience with UX research and the product category. Finding someone with all these characteristics can be a challenge – so you might want to line up resources in advance. Check out the QRCA, CASRO, the UXPA ESOMAR, foreign embassies or local universities for assistance.
Once you find a company or translator with whom you feel comfortable. You need to help the translator get a firm grasp of your product and the goals of your research. Set up a time to walk them through your product and your research design. They need to be fully versed with the study’s objectives, participant’s background, as well as the design issues to be examined. Share with them insights from past research, your concerns and gaps that you hope to fill with the work you are planning.
The success of your product depends on having a great working relationship with your translator and making sure they understand your product and the goals of your research. Your preparation will pay dividends and ensure your success with international studies.