Just as user-centered design transformed technology in the 1990s and early 2000s, cultural fluency needs to transform it today: user experience (UX) design that’s familiar enough with a user’s cultural background to meet him or her halfway.
Cultural fluency demands abandoning the idea that functionality is a universal language, and that “good UX” is culturally agnostic. […]
It requires tremendous discipline to overcome the cultural biases of American design and engineering, to avoid teams building their own cultural norms into how the systems facilitate human interactions. Cultural fluency will require another expansion in design, one that incorporates anthropological, psychological, and historical insights in addition to everything that’s come before. And it will require understanding the broader impact on culture and society when devices begin making decisions and transacting on their own, as promised by the Internet of Things.
The idea of cultural fluency is very interesting and very important. More and more digitally-based and mediated experiences don’t simply remain in the cultural context they are designed for; they move go everywhere. These products and experience are also making more of an impact than we have given them credit for. Previously, experiences were designed for a set of users, to meet a specific need, but there was not a tremendous amount of thought around what the impact of that product would be beyond the the intended use.
Culture and context permeate everything and it is dangerous and perhaps a bit naive to ignore it much longer when it comes to designing experiences.