How to Design for the Asian Market

If you would like to expand your business all over the world, you will need to start having business in Asia. If you spend some time researching the Asian market, trends and threats, lots of opportunities will suddenly arise. Once you manage to expand your identity or cater to the demographic in the most populated part of the world, your company will be set for more growth.

The first thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the cultural difference between countries placed so far apart. From a technical point of view, developing a web page for the Asian market is the same as doing it for Europe or U.S.A., but the cultural differences and how you navigate them are going to make or break your efforts.

Coca Cola China

Go Overboard with Graphics and Sound

The Asian market requires the websites to be a bit more direct than the rest of the world, because they are placed within a High Context culture, according to the American anthropologist Edward Hall. This means the messages have to be implied within a more direct approach. Designers might want to put in lots of visual elements, such as images that talk about the brand or its values. Don’t put prices and details of the products you sell on the first page. And even though it may seem cluttered and disparate to our eyes, go for a colorful web design. Minimalism is not popular in Asia, the same way it was not popular in Europe or U.S.A. 10 years ago. Keep in mind that you don’t have to like it. You're not your target audience.

Along with a unique design for the dmeogrpahic, do not omit translating the content into the different languages in Asia, even though many of them know English. Many CMSs have translate capabilities based on the location of the visitor, or you could go the lazy route and install a Google Translate button.

As mentioned earlier, China, India and Japan are all in a High Context culture. This means they enjoy graphical elements more than the rest of the world. Flash is something on its way out in Europe and U.S.A., although you might want to think of using it for the Asian market. The extra animations and sound will be appreciated. Or learn how to do the same thing in Javascript and/or HTML 5.

Say Yes to the "Bad Ideas" from the 90's

For the Western audience pages opening in a new tab or window might be annoying, but the Eastern market prefers it like that. Usually they do not get angered by pop-ups either, but I think you should avoid them anyway. Because eventually they will be annoyed.

Video and audio starting automatically once the page is loaded will not harm your chances of being popular on the internet in the Eastern World, but will actually help, because as stated earlier the Eastern population loves animations and sounds.

Rethink Your Color Choices

In the U.S.A. and Europe black and white pages are popular, but they will not fit well in the Asian market. Go for colorful designs, but pay close attention to the colors of choice, because cultural significance is important when it comes to color. Red is purity in India, good luck and happiness in China and danger in Europe and the U.S., so do a bit of research before jumping into picking colors. White is the color of funerals in Asia, unlike in our countries. You can find what color means in different parts of the world by checking this link.

Consider a Country-Specific Domain

If you really want to target the Asian market with your own services, a country specific domain name might be a good investment, such as .cn for China, .co.jp for Japan or .in for India. This would provide clear seperation from your normal site.

Alternatively, you can just use your normal .com domain and make a subdomain for each country.

Adapting a web site for the Asian market is not an easy task, but doing it the right way might help you a lot. The Asian market becomes more and more involved on the internet and sooner or later they will have to be considered by every company that wants a website or a visual identity on the internet.

Have you had any experience designing for an Eastern market?  What have your experiences been like? Any culture clashes?

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