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Having worked in different parts of the world, we found out that there is a huge difference in web & app design between Europe and Asia. As Apiumhub has offices in Barcelona, Spain and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, I will take those two countries as an example.
Web & app design is growing day by day and has changed a lot since its beginning. Now we see a lot of interesting designs from all over the world. Web & app designs from different areas of the world are quite distinct from each other due to the fact that their audience and culture is different.
The UI and UX design development process focuses on understanding users and their demographic diversity. But globally, these differences may reflect world-wide cultures.
Companies that want to do international business on the Web & App should consider the impact of culture on the understanding and use of Web & App-based communication, content, and tools. It has a huge influence on the web & app design.
Geographical location hugely affects cultural trends. This means that users from different countries have different attitudes to content and design which web and app designers have to cater for. Interestingly, a lot of big brands like Coca Cola or Starbucks have different web & app design for different locations. European webs were completely different comparing to Asian ones, in terms of text and translation, kind of images used, typography selected, color palettes designed, layouts chosen etc.
While some fundamental principles of usability, such as simplicity and consistency, are elemental, there are certain web design characteristics that need to be reflected upon. Why? Now we will look at it more in details.
WEB & APP DESIGN – MAIN DIFFERENCES
The main difference between the designs from Asia and Europe is the fact that Asian designs are experimental, colourful and have a lot going on a single page. While on the other hand, designs from Europe are chic, decent, concise and succinct.
According to Jerome Rowle, Nehal Shah and Geert Hofstede, these are key differentiators:
1. LOW CONTEXT VS HIGH CONTEXT
App and web design splits European and Asian culture into two camps of Low Context and High Context.
Low Context cultures such as European one, value individualism and words over context. On the other hand High Context cultures, such as Asian ones, value context more than words.
In Asia, the trend is more information on less space and use of lots of colors. For example in Vietnam they use of a lot of flash and animation on the design.
The designers from Vietnam are also not afraid to use various different colors on a single page, while designers from Europe, for example Spain tend to stick with a combination of a few colors.
European approach favours clear, concise information which gives the users indication of what they can gain by choosing to browse a brand’s website. Less is often more, professionalism is associated with clean, uncluttered design, rather than too much information.
One aspect of web design that can have far reaching and sometimes unintentional effects on users is color. Colors have a variety of associations within culture, and can mean something completely different to Spanish and Vietnamese users, where color meanings are frequently much more specific and defined.
It is important to understand how color associations vary from culture to culture,when planning a website or an app. Understanding colors can be a tricky challenge and many color meanings can almost seem contradictory.
3. POWER DISTANCE
Vietnam has a much higher score in Power Distance than Spain. What does it mean?
This means that In Vietnam less powerful members of organizations accept that power is distributed unequally.
High power distance countries are more autocratic. Low power distance countries are more democratic.
High power distance countries, like Vietnam have a stronger focus on expertise, authority, experts, certifications, official stamps and logos, amongst others. Access to information is restricted and social roles are used to organize information for example managers’ section vs. non-managers’ section, etc. Introducing visuals, expressions, images with authoritative body language, that are informative and guiding will work well in high power distance countries.
Low power distance cultures may prefer activities of daily life, popular images, symbols and colors.
For example in Vietnam as a high power distance country, users prefer to have clear indicators of navigation that present all information at once, while in Spain, users prefer less dense and informally organized structure.
High power distance cultures tend to prefer sites with a formal layout but with more vivid visuals.
Low power distance countries prefer informal layouts with clear access and multiple choices.
4. INDIVIDUALISM vs COLLECTIVISM
Vietnam is collectivist country when Spain is more individualistic one.
This refers to the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. Individualistic societies emphasize personal achievements and individual rights. Collectivist societies emphasize group affiliations and loyalty.
Language, sound, videos and metaphors that emphasize individual successes will be preferred in high individual countries.
Individualistic countries value importance given to the youth, while wise leaders will be preferred in collectivist cultures.
Sites that offer extrinsic rewards tend to be valued by cultures that are highly individualistic.
5. FEMININITY vs MASCULINITY
Its all about emotional roles between genders. Masculine cultures are competitive, assertive, materialistic, when feminine cultures place more value on relationships and quality of life.
High masculinity cultures place importance on traditional gender, family and age distinctions, whereas feminine cultures emphasize the blurring of gender roles.
Visuals with a feminine theme including family will be preferred in highly feminine countries, and male dominated cultures will prefer images related to competition, meetings, success, personal growth, etc.
Symbolic indicators and metaphors of achievement, results, and objectives will be preferred in high Masculine countries, whereas social activity and interaction will be valued in low Masculinity cultures.
6. UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE
This refers to the degree of tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. High uncertainty avoidance cultures are more emotional, and control changes with rules, laws and regulations, Spain is one of them. High uncertainty avoidance countries emphasize simplicity, clear metaphors, limited choices and restricted amounts of data.
Low uncertainty avoidance cultures, for example Vietnam is more pragmatic, and have as few rules as possible.
7. LONG VS SHORT-TERM ORIENTATION
This refers to the time horizon of a society. Long-term oriented societies, like Vietnam are oriented on the future, and are pragmatic, rewarding persistence and saving. Short-term oriented societies are oriented on the present and the past, rewarding reciprocity in social relations and the fulfilling of social obligations.
High Long-term orientation countries would value relationships as a source of information and credibility and content that is focused on practical value, whereas short-term oriented countries would prefer content based on truth, desire for immediate results and achievement of goals.
Content and visual elements that are focused on rules as a source of credibility are valued more in short-term oriented countries whereas long-term oriented cultures are oriented by the search of virtuous behavior. They also value future plans and guidelines to understand their future relationship with the brand.
To sum up, it is clearly seen how each of these dimensions can have a considerable effect on global web & app design. From shallow vs. deep information architectures, access to information, motivation and trust, security and personal information, navigation, simplicity, graphical elements, color and others. Language – phrases, intonation, emphasis; Layout – placements of banners, menu items; icons play a very important role here.
This becomes especially important in contemporary settings when e-loyalty is critical in online transactions, and visual appeal is one of the ways to increase trust.
People instinctively make snap judgments about everything they see and try to rationalize it afterwards. It becomes essential to get a positive first impression.
Apiumhub helps companies make communication effective between a global business and a local user. We have Asian and European UX designers, who have experience more than 15 years and worked on different kind of projects, from e-commerce webs to social media apps.
If you have questions, drop us an email.