Web design should be so much more than just designing for a particular brand. For example, if you are designing the website for a different country or market, researching the devices users deploy is essential before opting for responsive design. For websites that are reaching out to Silicon valley investors, it may be reasonable to assume the latest smart devices could be used to access the site.
But if your target audience is an emerging economy, desktop users could be as important as Android smartphone users. Not every user will have the latest smartphones, and your website design needs to account for this. Users may even be on low end phones that don’t even run on Android OS, so do your research carefully, because providing the perfect web experience is important.
- How Website Design Differs Across Markets and Countries
Website design should focus on optimising the site for different screen sizes or densities. This helps to maximise user experience across smart devices, because sites are actually designed for devices. Testing text and font legibility and tapping area sizes is equally important. Additionally, while designing for different screen sizes, designs should not end above the fold and elements need to be in place for scrolling and swiping. The users flow from screen to screen is also important.
An innovative web design cycle should involve QA testers and developers to check and address text overflow issues. Users in different locales have different requirements. For example, the language, white space utilisation and naming conventions may differ across countries or even markets. Consider that while designing a product pitch on a site that is translated into 20 different languages, just designing in English will not help. You also need to check what the interface is like as against the shortest and longest languages. This can enable you to avoid translations that are either cut down on or overlapping when shown to users.
- East Versus West
Cross-cultural differences are noted across China and the US, for example. In China, a discover button with a compass icon is used for denoting extra information as opposed to ‘know more’ tabs. Another east-west difference comes in the landing pages. For example, if you see Mozilla Firefox’s page for China, there is more content, while the one in the US has a clearer call-to-action and briefer language. Most visited websites in China like 163, Sina and QQ have a portal design optimised for browsing. The site contains more data than search fields and buttons as compared to Western web design. While designing a website, utilise a UI pattern locals can relate to and adapt.
- Power of Personas
When it comes to designing for different cultures, formulating a buyer persona is critical, as one can put the cultural characteristics of the user in front of the design process. It is equally essential to verify the personas through effective research before designing the site. The more familiar one is with the culture of the user, the more the personas should reflect the localised sensibilities. While designing web personas across countries and markets, being aware of stereotypes is critical. When designing personas and mock-ups, the aim should be to understand who the users are, and what they look like.
- Overcoming Language Barriers
Language barriers can be a major factor in website design. For example, Italian and Japanese translations can be considered. While there are 35 characters in Italian, and 16 in Japanese for a particular word, the two are exactly the same length on the screen. There are additionally 2 systems in the Japanese language called kanji and kana with different translation lengths.
While designing the site, hire a culturally diverse team. Your web design team should know about different aspects of the local culture and web preferences. As a result, ideas bounce back effectively and the right connections are made. Diverse teams also build more creative ideas by shifting the communication structure and style.
- Designing for Different Cultures
When it comes to building websites, designers have to study current design trends as well as optimise for search engines. Studies have shown culture does influence how viewers process information and the follow-through effect for the processes to be followed in getting the website right for different markets, cultures and communities.
The general design rule is that when designing sites for high-context cultures like India or China or low-context cultures like the United States and Scandinavia, you need to consider the role played by the cultural differences. Low-context countries and cultures focus on minimalistic designs and straightforward information. High-context cultures, on the other hand, require designs with more colourful effects, interactivity, imagery and explanatory headings and data.
For example, colour is a design element which varies across nations. In Western cultures, the typical connotations with the colour red is danger, whereas in India, it denotes purity and in China, it stands for good luck. In Egypt, orange is considered a colour of mourning, while it is seen as a peppy, creative shade in the west. Blue is the most universally acceptable colour out there.
Besides colour and design, other aspects include the imagery and tools you use for formatting the data. When it comes to basic page navigation styles, even here there are differences across countries, depending on whether the language reads from left to right like English or right to left like Hebrew. Keeping navigation horizontal as opposed to vertical makes it easier to switch directions and ensure the design remains symmetrical, so images and text boxes don’t have to be moved from one side to another.
- Lost in Translation?
Another crucial thing to consider while designing a website for another culture is the design, navigation and colour scheme to ensure that the content is appropriate. Text, for example, is written with target audiences in mind, and so the translation should be checked by a professional. The tone also needs to be appropriate. Keep sentences short and construction efficient.
Additionally, the images used should be suited to the country or demographic in the market. For example, Coca-Cola hit the mark on Chinese and Russian sites by using appropriate imagery. By carrying out preliminary research before initiating the web design, you will definitely be able to create a site adaptable across countries, cultures, markets and language divides easily.