The Challenges of Participatory Design in a Intercultural Context: Designing for Usability in Namibia

  • Heike Winschiers
Keywords: Usability, cross-cultural design, sustainable development, cultural appropriation


The need for participation in development projects has been recognised broadly. Thus a great number of successful participatory design practices and principles have evolved mainly in the northern hemisphere. However still too many project initiatives in developing countries collapse although participatory techniques were used. Crossing disciplinary or cultural boundaries implies that one should reconsider established assumptions, concepts and habits that were taken for granted. Thus as much as designed products have to be evaluated in the local context so do design methods, techniques and tools. This paper therefore explores the cultural margins of Information Technology design and the challenges of expanding the boundaries across cultures. A theoretical framework supported by a Namibian case study foster the necessity of an acculturated design in context if striving to develop usable Information Systems.
Exploratory Papers - Session (1): Methods for Participant Engagement