Searching for the Next Billion: Global Design for Information Seeking across Cultures

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While billions of people are established internet users, there are still billions of new users who have just come online in recent years and this growth will continue, especially on mobile in non-Western countries. Information seeking is essential to online behavior across the world, yet many prominent information-seeking platforms are heavily influenced by Western design patterns and use cases that originate from desktop. As we anticipate the future of information-seeking designs for new users, we explore opportunities to improve the experience by establishing a framework to evaluate common barriers to information seeking online across cultures.

Qualitative insights were collected from 164 participants to understand information-seeking patterns and barriers for users across three countries: Nigeria, Mexico, and India. Interviews were conducted with participants in their day-to-day environment, including home, work, internet cafes, markets, and university campuses. For every region, the overarching theme of our study was focused on barriers to information seeking. Each study also had a secondary goal based on previous learnings, new hypotheses, and emerging areas of interest. The secondary goal for each region was as follows: the Nigeria study explored perception of online information sources, the Mexico study explored local information needs, and the India study explored how users stay informed on topics of interest.

Based on this and past research, we created a framework that has five pillars to evaluate common barriers to information seeking: 1) User perception, 2) Infrastructure of internet and hardware devices, 3) Input and output, 4) Content quality of information, and 5) Context and overall journey. Article citation: 2021 EPIC Proceedings pp 175–189, ISSN 1559-8918,

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