One of the most important aspects of web design is Cultural Variables. We often focus so much on the importance of the graphics and placement, as well as the responsiveness of a site, yet do not take into consideration these cultural variables….What about the Cultural aspect? This is not to say that graphics, user experience, and placement are not important, but there may be another prominent factor to consider.
Think about it, you may have read my last post on the emerging markets and the takeover of international commerce. With international business comes the cultural following and practices of those that differ from ourselves. When building a web site to reach the masses of the world isn’t it important to make sure the content we are providing and the icons we are displaying are not only understood but accepted by different cultures? Thai Culture for example is that of a quieter understated culture. They do not belief in expressing dominance, anger or emotion overly so. This leads into my point of how we have high context versus low context cultures. What about the difference between circumspect and direct approach? Or group versus individuality. This perhaps is a very good point. For many of us we believe in individuality and speaking and doing for ourselves. Often though in many other cultures the belief lies more on that of the group and the benefit of the group.
While I understand that the site you have built is yours and yours alone and that you are capable of representing yourself in whatever way you deem appropriate my point stands to be made as to why we have built this web site in entirety. The point of your web site is to get you out among the different people of the world to either market your product, services or to have your information on your site be heard. If any of those are the driving force and our world continues to grow in the international commerce front isn’t it best to tackle any barriers that we can. I am not saying your own culture is not of importance when building a site I am saying though that making your site understandable and acceptable to many other cultures is of just as much importance as well. In America we give directions by saying left, right up down etc. In another culture or country they may use cardinal directions such as North, East, South, West. Your icon buttons on your site may only pertain to up, down, left, right etc. By adding different cultural variables to your website you are showing that you are concerned with and open to those who interpret things differently than you. Your effort will not go unnoticed as well. The more you show that you are trying to reach all kinds of people and cultures and provide them with the same understanding as those in your own culture the more you are actually getting your information out there. You also show that you are open minded and aware of differences when it comes to doing business.
While I do agree that responsive sites and graphics are important, I also believe that to build a well rounded site and one that is of sound information, you need to incorporate all of the key factors when doing business with other cultures in the U.S as well as internationally. Just some food for thought for my fellow web design friends.