Here at UX24/7, we carry out a large amount of international UX research. Over time, as we work in more countries, we continue to learn more about the differences in culture and coordinating UX projects in new territories.
This has inspired our latest blog series in which our team share their experiences of carrying out user research in various countries around the world.
I travelled to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia a couple of weeks ago for research we were conducting for the owner of a large eCommerce website. It was my first time conducting research in Serbia and as always with short work trips, I didn’t get to see very much of the city. What I did see made me feel that Belgrade has a rather split personality.
The tourist streets are quite well kept, and wide walkways with numerous cafes and bars offer some great places to eat or drink and watch the world go by. But walk for a minute or two away from these areas and the buildings are covered in graffiti and there is obvious poverty. Streets are lined with people selling second-hand household items and beggars.
The city of Belgrade sits on the Danube and one of its most famous landmarks, the fortress Beogradska Tvrdava, is located at the confluence of the Danube and the river Sava. But the city isn’t really centred on the river in the same way Paris, Prague or Budapest is and the city seems quite separate. This is changing with Arab investment which is being used to develop the riviera but the Serbs I spoke to were fairly dismissive of this project.
Travelling to Belgrade from London is straight forward and I flew Air Serbia, which is pretty much the only choice. The airport in Belgrade is only a 25-minute taxi ride from the centre of town but beware because Uber isn’t here yet and the taxis only take local currency – unless you are lucky enough to get one that takes credit cards. At the airport there is a desk where you get a ticket with a price and avoids you being ripped off and there are also cash points which refreshingly didn’t charge an admin fee for withdrawing Dnar’s (RSD). I took out 5,000, which equated to about £38 and the taxi ride was 2,000 including the tip. If you get a taxi in town it is a good idea to ask your local contact to order it because there are tourist rates and the actual rate, which is far, far lower.
There are few differences between Serbian consumers and there counterparts in other countries. They are all price conscious, used to shopping around for good deals and using comparison websites to research and select products. The most visible difference was in the technical competence of the female participants we saw. All knew a great deal about the technical aspects of the products we were interested in (TV’s, smartphones) in far more granular detail than I had seen in other countries. When I commented to my Serbian colleague he was not surprised at this behaviour and suggested that the education system focusses on technology a great deal and so people are generally quite competent.
My final note is about the most important element of work – Coffee! If you don’t like local coffee you will have a bit of a search on your hands as there is only one Starbucks in a forest of local, and very good, coffee shops.