Differences in international webdesign and usability
|International Website Design is more then just translating. (but if you translate do it correct otherwise you keep on closing a shower door)|
Of course people are the same world over and the main usability guidelines remain the same. However there are country specific things to take into account that can make your site work better in specific countries. With the emerging markets rapidly growing and the global aspects of internet, it is critical to understand the differences of your international customers.
In a few European website projects, the biggest problems in the fields of usability and design were the following points.
- Character problems in on site search engine and the connected emails used for email marketing. Special characters necessary for some languages gave problems in displaying.
- Display of local currency's. Local currency's were changed at most places, but the system did not change the local currency's at some far ends of the webshop.
- Confirmation pages and VAT differences.
- Length of text fields (some words are just much longer in other languages, so make buttons and text fields scalable).
- Differences in countries in shopping cart process (for example delivery points or SMS services that are not yet common in all countries).
- Payment methods and configurations.
- Legal differences between countries can have impact at the usability. It might be necessary in to change your product detail page for your webshop because of legal aspects. But there are more differences that have an impact at the usability.
- Differences in product details (your product information system) for example voltage differences between countries. Powerplugs are different in the UK then the rest of Europe.
- Speed. Make sure (and this is especially the case with global websites) your site speed is fast in every country you target for.
It is always nice to see the differences in design if you look at global brands.
|Design Homepage Philips Japan|
|Design Homepage Philips Germany|
|Homepage Design Ford Brasil|
|Homepage Design Ford China|
The companies in the examples above, have specific sites for some countries, but often you see that multinationals have one template to fit for all countries.
They can only make small changes in this case.This is not always the best solution in my opinion. Best is to have a more flexible framework. Randstad for example has most likely one template to fit both the French and Japanese market. If you use this solution, I think you are not flexible enough to really make the most of your online activities.
|Homepage Design Randstad France|
|Homepage Design Randstad Japan|
Understand your audience and test!
Of course there is much more to tell about this subject. Bottom line is to understand your audience and to test always! Do research and understand your local visitors. Also read this article I wrote, and especially read the part about Geert Hofstede's 5 dimensions model. This really helps you to understand the differences between countries and to use this information for optimizing your website.