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Special Concerns of Questioning

Cultural differences

People from different cultural backgrounds may interpret signs and metaphors differently. Meanings and connotations for images, colors, words, or punctuation may be very different for different cultures. For example, when email applications first began using the U.S.-style mailbox as an icon, some non-Americans used to other kinds of mailboxes did not immediately recognize the meaning of the icon.

Context-specific responses

People often respond to signs and metaphors in relation to their immediate context and surroundings. If they are at work when they view a Web site, the setting may influence their response or their interpretation. For example, an image that suggests risk (such as a fast sports car on a mountain road) may not elicit a positive response in a setting where risk management is important, even though it may be an appealing image in other contexts. Audio files are almost always inappropriate for users in school or work environments.

Work language and specialized language

Some sites that are targeted towards specific populations need to take into account the work language or specialized language of those groups. For example, if a Web site is designed as a life insurance portal, it would be important to understand what kinds of terminology the target audience understands. Audience analysis would need to determine what terms need to be explained, and what terms the target audience can be assumed to understand.