How to Design a Website for the Asian Markets

Post pobrano z: How to Design a Website for the Asian Markets

The first thing to consider is the cultural
differences between continents spaced so far apart. The technical side of
designing a web page for Asian markets is the same as designing one for the
United States or Europe. What will make or break your efforts are these
cultural differences and how you navigate them.

Appreciating the Asian Markets’ Sense of Design

When you talk to someone who has either worked
for or with a Chinese company or who has run a marketing campaign in China,
it’s very clear that their sense of design is different than what you see in the West. Proof of this can be
seen when you look at multinational companies that offer their brand in China.
Look at their website on Baidu or QQ. You’re going to see something that looks
very busy, full of text, full of links, and even animations, which to Western
eye seems impossible to read.

Understanding why websites that target Asian
markets are designed the way they are and learning to emulate this design style
are essential if you are going to successfully market your product or service
for the Asian markets. The following are a few tips that may be beneficial.

North American Web Design

In North America, the current trend in web design
can be summed up in one word – “Clean.” The design is straightforward and
elegant. Large images are the center of the design, with short and concise copy
appearing on the page. It’s common for menus to be hidden away and only unfold
when they are moused over.

Web Design in Japan

Japan’s style is markedly different. Less
emphasis is put on pictures and more is put on text. Images are small, and
menus are prominent, with the categories being listed in a static format. It is
not uncommon to see the site’s complete menu listed in one column.

Web Design in China

The design aesthetics seen on popular Chinese
websites fall somewhere between the extreme text you see in Japanese websites
and the scarcity of text found on many North American websites. There are large
images, but there is also substantial text. Red and yellow are prominent
colors. These colors signify good fortune and happiness to many in the Chinese
culture. Flash-based websites are popular, but their use is on the decline.

The Benefit of Extra Graphics and Sound

In the Asian market, websites flourish when they
are more direct. This is due to the High Context culture they are placed
within. Messages have to be implied and the approach direct. Adding more visual
elements, such as images, do more to talk about the brand and its values than
anything else. Minimalism is not popular in Asia, like it is the United States
and Europe. Remember, you are not designing to your taste but instead to the
taste of your target audience.

Maximize the User Experience

From a Western standpoint, Asian market websites
may seem a lot more complicated than what we are used too. However, the users
are used to receiving information under this structure in the same way that
Westerners are accustomed to receiving information under a Western structure.

They are accustomed to seeing a busy website, so
they do not care how the site looks. What they are concerned about is usability
and performance. An important part of usability is site speed and reliability.
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Optimize Your Site for Baidu

Most SEO efforts are directed toward achieving
ranking on Google and Yahoo, and sometimes Bing. However, Baidu is a popular
search engine in China. It has not had a global reach, and that is why many
people do not know about it outside of China. But China has more than a billion
inhabitants. If you rank well on this site and if your target market is in
China, it pays to optimize your site for Baidu.

The algorithm that Baidu uses is different from
Google or Yahoo. It does not have the same sophistication, and it has
algorithms that resemble what other search engines used a few years ago. That
being said, here are some tips on what you can do to rank with Baidu.

Find the Right Chinese Words

Keywords are important for good rankings. Finding
the right Chinese words to optimize for can be a challenge because there are
number of dialects with the same word having different meanings in different
dialects. However, Pinyin Chinese is the language of choice preferred by Baidu.

Structuring a website for Asian languages can be a challenge for Westerners. Thankfully,
there are great resources that can help you design your website effectively.

Produce Quality Chinese Content

Even if the primary language on your site is not
Chinese, Baidu views the Chinese content above all else. Follow the guidelines
for acceptable content in China. Failure to do this could cost you your good
rankings on Baidu and spell big problems for your site.

Use Simple Navigation Structures

Baidu refuses to follow links that are hidden
deep in all kinds of sloppy code. It will not work with code that goes multiple
levels deep within the same hierarchy.

Avoid Flash and JavaScript

Google does not love Flash or JavaScript, and
Baidu hates them. For this reason, you should only use Flash and JavaScript if
you are able to provide the alternative HTML versions of the content.

Understanding the Power of Language

There are more than 2,190 languages spoken in
Asia. Of these, 10 are the most commonly spoken. These include:

  1. Mandarin, with 1.2 billion speakers
  2. English, with 400 million speakers
  3. Indonesian, with 240 million speakers
  4. Japanese, with 120 million speakers
  5. Filipino, with 90 million speakers
  6. Korean, with 80 million speakers
  7. Vietnamese, with 80 million speakers
  8. Thai, with 60 million speakers
  9. Burmese, 33 million speakers
  10. Malaysian, with 30 million speakers

Mandarin, English, and Japanese are the most used
languages on the Internet. Creating
quality content on your site in these languages will help you reach the Asian
markets.

Although it may seem overwhelming, adapting your
website or creating a website for the Asian markets is very manageable. You
need to have a solid plan and know what direction you’re going to go in.
Remember, approach China, Japan, and India in their own ways. Understanding
their cultures and their perception of space and color will help you make a
website that will flourish in the Asian markets.

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