Web design across the globe

Have you heard people say that web doesn’t abide by geographical boundaries? While this is true in one sense, visiting sites that have been designed for users elsewhere might provide you with a surprisingly different experience.

Geographical location hugely affects cultural trends. This means that users from a different country will have different attitudes to content and design which web designers have to cater for.

Research into Japanese news web design by The Guardian revealed that Japanese news sites tend to be very text driven rather than the Western preference for visual and interactive web design.  This is just one example. We’ll go through a few common differences between Asian and European design here.

What’s the difference?

One theory into different cultures splits European and Asian culture into two camps of Low Context and High Context. In short, Low Context cultures such as the US or UK value individualism and words over context. On the other hand High Context cultures, such as China and Japan, value context more than words.

What does this mean? Simply put, applying different designs will ensure you communicate as effectively as you can.

Asian web design

A website for a Chinese audience is likely to be full of information and highly visual, with animation and lots going on.  This is because in High Context cultures messages are implied within rather than being explicit.

A landing page might talk in-depth about a company’s history and knowledge to create a certain prestige or status (via a lot of context, or “high” context) rather than adopt a bold, simple headline which gets straight to the point.  A page packed with stimulation which may seem cluttered to a Western audience is likely to be preferred.

European web design

So, the European approach favours clear, concise information which gives the individual frank indication of what they can gain by choosing to browse a brand’s website.  Less is often more; professionalism is associated with clean, uncluttered design, rather than too much information.  A European audience isn’t likely to be interested in background or history on a landing page.

In conclusion

If you’re branching out to an international customer base and you want to tackle an Asian market then it’s a good idea to keep these ideas in mind.

There’s never any exact right or wrong in web design and it’s perfectly possible to create a website which will do well in both Europe and Asia.  Interestingly,  a lot of big brands like Coca Cola or Starbucks have different web designs for different locations –  so if you have the resources, it might be an idea to look into different pages for your different customer bases.

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