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Past Event

Design Swap
November 14, 2008

From 美國明尼蘇達大學 to جامعة مينيسوتا: what does it mean to a designer?

The November Design Info Swap was hosted by the Office of International Programs to usher in International Education Week, November 17-21, 2008. Key takeaways follow.

One of the main areas of difficulty for an incoming international student is filling out our forms.

  • Address can differ (provinces versus states, etc.).
  • “Tel” (for telephone) versus “p” (for phone) is more internationally understandable, and international phone numbers have country codes.
  • Not all cultures categorize their names as first and last. Proper and given may mean more. And some cultures have more names than space allows.

Nevertheless, according to Jennifer Schulz, Office of International Programs, one thing to keep in mind is that, “You don’t want to alienate an audience to accommodate an audience.”

The University does not translate many Web sites into other languages, as the risk of getting something wrong and the time taken to maintain content in two languages is not yet outweighed by the reward. Many students are coming here with a strong command of the English language, but their parents may need information in their native languages.

The University does not have translation resources any more, but the students in CCE’s Program in Translation and Interpreting may be of help:

Colors and imagery mean different things to different cultures. A little Web research before one starts a design project, and the help of native for review, may lessen miscommunications.

Be sensitive when using photos to represent international students, as race cannot accurately reflect international heritage.

Flags are political and don’t represent a language. It is better to use the name of the language written in that language to help native speakers navigate to areas on Web sites in their language.

Selecting a font can be difficult for languages with different accents and characters. Open-type faces and common faces such as Times were mentioned as working the best. Be careful, languages that are written from right to left will flip when copied into InDesign. In Arabic, this changes the characters. Plug-ins are available but it’s cheaper just to outline the characters (such as making a pdf from Word) and then import the text as a graphic.

A calendar of U of M events for International Education Week:

Handout on making University Web sites and materials more accessible to international students

Another site of interest:







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