When designing a website, you need to consider the culture of your main audience. A recent study by Dianne Cyr demonstrated its importance. In her paper, she looks at the culture of eight different Nations and how culture has an impact on website design.
Basic Design Tips
One of the key features of cultural difference for website design is how the information is presented and organised. While there is little difference between North American and European cultures, there is a stark contrast between how audiences in Japan like to see content organised and presented on a page.
North American and European audiences prefer good access and presentation to product information. They also seem to have a favourable view of the local website.
In contrast, Japanese audiences have a negative opinion of the local website and prefer the more corporate website. Japanese audiences also favour a visually appealing website that relates to the user’s emotional state compared to American, Canadian and German users.
Trust is important in any supplier-buyer relationship and different cultures respond differently to trust indicators. For instance, South American audiences trust websites which host pictures of credit cards, much more than American audiences.
The study tested these perceptions and found that the USA, Canada and India had a greater preference for information on the site to stimulate trust. Therefore, building trust indicators such as testimonials, reviews and case studies should be prioritised when building a website, especially an ecommerce one, for these nations.
Interestingly Japan had the highest trust levels. However, they are more concerned with the emotional signals that are presented on the website. Colours, images and language should be designed to sympathise with the audience. By creating this connection, audiences are more likely to purchase a product.
Language Is Not A Barrier
One of the more interesting aspects of the study was the difference between English Canada and French Canada. Both cultures had similar results when it came to what audiences wanted. Their preferred website design was also only slightly different to that of the US (navigational preferences).
There was also little difference between China and Japan except for navigational design and trust.
Does Culture Play A Part In Your Website Design?
When you are an international business, you should consider your audience. Are you designing a website that will sell in a select, local market or one that translates across the world? In some cases, it might be best to design different websites based on location. Many big brands do this, and it seems that their actions are highly justified.
Do you operate internationally? Do you have different websites for different audiences?
Let us know in the comments.