As the first phase of a two-phase project, the International Usability Partners (IUP; http://www.international-usability-partners.com/) conducted a study in nine different countries to identify cultural similarities and differences in the use of gestures on small, handheld, touchscreen user interfaces. A total of 340 participants in the study were asked to define their own gestures for 28 common actions like "zoom" and "copy" on a custom-constructed gesture recorder that simulated a handheld touchscreen device. Actions were described pictorially by showing participants a "before" screen and an "after" screen to clarify the exact context for each action. Initial analysis suggests four primary findings. The first is that there is generally a high level of agreement across cultures. One exception, however, is the use of symbolic gestures; Chinese participants created significantly (p < .01) more symbolic gestures (e.g. letters, question mark, check mark) than participants from other countries. The second finding is that experience with gesture-enabled devices influenced the gestures that participants created for the following actions: back, forward, scroll up, and scroll down. The third finding is that when a gesture to elicit an action was not immediately identifiable, participants generally tapped on the screen to bring up a menu. The final finding is that there is higher agreement on actions that can be performed through direct manipulation and lower agreement scores on actions that are more symbolic in nature. Phase two of this research effort will be to present the most common three to five user-defined gestures for each action to a large number of participants and ask them to select the gesture that they believe to be the most intuitive gesture for that action.
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