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Why cultural preferences should be considered when one is designing a website?

Updated on March 3, 2012


Cultural preference is a significant factor to be considered when designing a website because it could spell the success or disaster of the products and or service it is trying to promote. As such, it is of utmost important to include cultural factors when designing a website.

According to Tierney (2007, p. 124), the identity of the people could be found in their cultural heritage and in the formation of cultural identity. Thus, recognizing the role of the nation’s heritage and cultural identity is very relevant not just simply to the nation state as a group of people but trickles down to the individual level because it is through these that people find a sense of belongingness and self-expression.

In a globalized context where culture and people are drawn closer together through the internet, it is interesting to note that even in such a modern medium such as the World Wide Web (www), culture seemed to be a factor towards the preference of the target audience of a website. On a research conducted by Barber and Badre (n.d.), they defined that “culturability”— refer to the important relation of culture and usability in webpage design or www design. This means that aspects such as signs, symbols, color schemes, font style, and arrangement on the website should be taken into consideration when designing a website in relation to culture.

Barber and Badre (n.d.) further emphasized this point by citing an example on how color, when applied to webpage design “impact the user’s expectations about navigation, links, and content, for example, as well as overall satisfaction. For example, an American bank using a web site to promote services for French investors may want to avoid the use of the color green, which some French may associate with criminality. On the other hand, the American bank may want to use green to attract Egyptian and Middle Eastern investor, as green has a positive connotation for them.”

On the given example about color for instance as variable of cultural preference, there has been a cultural interface design study conducted that investigates the use of color for webpage design in different countries. The study revealed that there are some countries that have preferences for particular color schemes (Aykin 2007, p. 130). The findings of this study could greatly help webpage designers to be more culturally sensitive in designing their website and make it more appealing to their target market.

Cultural preferences should be considered when designing a website not just because of the financial and economic factor involved—as it could mean the success of the website and the product and or service it is promoting, but it also means that the webpage designer really did put an effort to his work. When a webpage takes into consideration the cultural preferences of its target market, then it means that he or she had done his or her homework. He/she had done all the leg work needed to ensure that the design and layout, down to the tinniest detail of the design is culturally sensitive and appeals to the target audience. This takes not only knowing the product or services that the webpage designer is promoting but having to know the target market.

With people living in a world fast becoming globalized in more ways than one, cultural identity is what makes individual unique from the seemingly homogeneous culture that the internet and mass media is promoting. Thus, people tend to cling more on these cultural identity because it is a sense of belongingness, and www could capitalize on this.

In a globalized context where culture and people are drawn closer together through the internet, culture seemed to be a factor towards the preference of the target audience of a website.
In a globalized context where culture and people are drawn closer together through the internet, culture seemed to be a factor towards the preference of the target audience of a website. | Source

References

Aykin, N (Ed) 2007, Usability and Internationalization: Global and Local User Interfaces, Springer, Germany.

Tierney, S (Ed) 2007, Accommodating Cultural Diversity, Ashgate Publishing Company, Burlington.

Barber, W & Badre, An.d., Culturability: The Merging of Culture and Usability, Conference Proceedings,

<http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/marycz/hfweb98/barber/>.

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