Cultural differences in documentation

We've all read stories about advertisements, movies, and slogans that go awry when translated into other languages. Well, the same pitfalls apply to product documentation. In the Wired article Read the F***ing Story, then RTFM, Michelle Delio says that Japanese customers find cute and interesting documentation works best, while Hungarians prefer lots of details because they assume the product will eventually fail and need to be repaired.

Personally, I'm also interested in the cultural differences at the document and information design level. I don't read the language, but I've noticed that natively-produced manuals for Japanese products are often much more interesting and dense in their design, compared to English-produced manuals that have simply been translated for the Japanese market.

Posted: August 8, 2002 link to this item, Tweet this item, respond to this item