Difference between Asian and Western Web Design

Western web designers are often stumbled by Asian designs. To a US or European audience, Asian web design seems hugely overloaded with images, text, distracting gif and Flash animations and a overwhelming mass of icons.

Why has this style of web design emerged? Can Western brands adapt their website design approach for an Asian audience? Most importantly, should you attempt to integrate Asian website design principles when you localize your website for Asian markets?

One of the main issue of a european user when he sees an Asian website is the ammount of letters. The block of introductory text in the main panel seems rather heavy, as if it were written in capital letters. To a western audience used to text being broken up by punctuation and emphasis such as upper and lower case letter distinctions, it’s a bit relentless.

Possibly this is the key to understanding why Asian web design seems overwhelming to Western eyes. We’re used to having information broken up into chunks whilst Asian readers are used to their information being presented more as a block.

One common observation about Asian sites is that they are often heavily populated with links and these tend always to open in new windows. It’s thought this is because it’s often slower to type a web address or make a search in multi-stroke languages so this is to assist users by supporting linking rather than searching.

There might be several explanation for that phenomenon based on the culture, upbringigng and its contraversion with basic principles of Asian marketing. Asian market seems to put a straight line between everyday routine and advertising.

Although some audiences may be able to cope with more clutter on web pages than others, it’s important to focus on the key element of web design: achieving the outcomes you want from your site.

This means planning backwards from the goal you want your visitor to fulfil on the site, whether this be making a purchase, signing up for a test drive or downloading the whitepaper. This applies in any market in which your brand operates – regardless of the culture.

It’s also important to work within the framework of user expectations. Designers might build intuitive web features that perform according to user expectations. So if your customer expects links to open in a new window, it’s best to meet their expectations.

But it’s worthwhile challenging conventions in local web design even when you’re new to the market. Just because web design habits are common, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they work or are popular with users. This is why it’s important to optimise the performance of your site by testing different web design elements with user testing and conducting A/B or multivariate testing.

It’s advisable to work with native speaking experts in language, culture and region you’re targeting when designing and conducting these test. And while it’s good to be aware of the standard conventions for website design in various different countries and regions, don’t be a slave to them if they don’t allow you to achieve your business objectives.

Peter