Of all the things that are researched about and considered before designing a website, culture is the last thing. Alright, maybe not the last, but it is still a wonder how in this global age of the internet, culture is given very little attention when creating a website for the global audience.
The differences between the cultural queues among different nations can be subtle, but they have a monumental impact on the success of the site. What works for the US, might not work for Japan. And that’s why researching cultural metrics and knowing what elements of the website will be affected by cultural diversity, will pay off in the long run.
Elements That Yield To Cultural Differences
Culture happens to be one of the biggest web design influencers in the market, and it affects different elements of the website in multifaceted ways. Keeping an eye on these elements and ensuring a culturally responsive design needs to be a mainstream process at this point. So what are these elements? Let’s have a look.
1. Colors And Symbols: The Visuals Of The Culture
We all know about color psychology and what it entails. Different colors are perceived differently and associated with different types of emotions. However, color is also a cultural element that can mean different things for different cultures. Let’s look at some examples-
White is popular in Western culture as the color that represents purity, grace, and peace. However, among Eastern cultures, white is a symbol of death and mourning. This diversity in thinking changes the way people would consider a website with a design dominated by white.
The color purple is another example of the diverse opinions on colors in the world. Usually, this color is connected with royalty, greatness, and honor. However, in Brazil and Thailand, purple happens to be the color of grief and loss.
And just like these examples colors and imageries have a tendency of meaning diverse things for diverse cultures. And that is why it is so crucial for the designers to conduct thorough research on cultural influence in web design and how these influences are going to impact the process.
2. Language And Communication: High Context Vs Low Context
According to the research by Edward T. Hall, the world cultures and their communications can be divided into two parts, high context cultures, and low context cultures.
High context cultures are those cultures that rely a lot on the non-verbal elements of correspondence rather than the verbal one. Among these cultures, the non-verbal queues are given plenty of importance in order to understand the message. These queues can be the person speaking, the tone of their voice, the kind of relationship listener, and the spokesperson has, etc.
Low context societies are the exact opposite of high context. In this society, rules and messages are explicitly stated with verbal queues, making it a lot more of a verbal process to correspond with the people.
The ever-changing style of correspondence is one of the cultural factors that reflect on web design. For low context cultures, the content of the website needs to be clear, precise, and to the point. However, for high context cultures, the language as well as the image and video content of the website can afford to be a little bit vague. To ensure this subtle difference on the website, go for a well-experienced web design agency based on major cities like New York.
3. The Personalization Effect: Differences In Individualization
Personalization is an important thing for web design, everyone knows that. However, personalization is not a staple for all cultures throughout the world. The impact of culture on web design also includes how the person perceives the experience- as an individual, or as part of society.
Users belonging to the individualistic culture are more prone to operate based on their personal interests and motives, while users from a culture that values collectivism take steps according to the interest of a group or community rather than their own interests. How is this difference going to affect the website?
When designing for an individualistic culture, the site needs to be personalized. It means that the users need experience that is customized for their convenience. That’s why options such as “for you” or “Offers for your benefits” will be better suited for an individualistic website.
A website designed for collectivist society needs to be more group-oriented. Social sharing preferences for such websites is a must, as well as popular offers that are based on collective opinion. Attention to these small details will make the UX much more personal as well as successful in different markets.
Wrapping Up: Designing According To Culture
In this age of globalization, the cultural differences are less distinguishable, but they still exist. And that is why cultural influence over web design needs to be considered as a major factor, especially when designing for cultures that are diverse, such as the US and India. It is important to conduct enough research and produce the right kind of design that will convince and convert users without breaking a sweat.
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Pratip Biswas is the Founder and CEO of Unified Infotech, a New York-based web design company that has been featured in Deloitte Fast 500 | Fastest growing tech companies in 2018. His company is working with Enterprises, SMB’s and Start-ups to improve their efficiency through Digital Adoption and help them discover new possibilities through constant innovations. Pratip also writes regularly on Blockchain technology and has been published in publications like “Yourstory”, “Dzone” etc.