Cultural Issues

Culture in E-CommerceWhen dealing with different countries you should be aware of the differences in cultures to make sure business does not interfere with any values or is misinterpreted. It’s important for everyone to understand your message so you should work to make sure your website has gone through tests to make sure it can be used internationally.

What does culture mean?

Culture is defined as the combination of language and the habits of people in a certain place.

What does connection speed and access affect people around the world?

The cost of having access to the internet in many countries is extremely high; therefore potential customers limit their internet use to going directly to a web site they know exists and not surfing for new companies. Making sure your website loads quickly and efficiently is important regardless of your audience, but speed optimizations are incredibly important when trying to reach to a global market. When targeting an international audience, you need to not only keep in mind the potential Internet connectivity options, but also how you are serving your content.

Language Issues

1. Reduce Text in Images

The web is becoming a more accessible place on a global level, in large part because of machine translation systems like Google Translate. These systems are getting better and better at making it easier for users to translate websites written in other languages. However, machine translation doesn’t work on graphical images. That means that if you frequently use static images for headings, aspects of a logo or for call-out information, you can be cutting off some of your audience.

It’s not realistic to expect that all websites get rid of all images with text, but thanks to the rise of web fonts, there are more options at a designer or developer’s disposal for creating real text that is styled the way you want it to look, preventing the need for lots of text-based images.

2. Allow Your Text to Grow

Optimizing your website’s text for global access goes beyond limiting the number of graphics that utilize text — you also want to make sure your layout can survive machine translations. By this, we mean you want to make sure that when your text is written in English and converted to another Latin language, Cyrillic or an Asian language, the flow will be supported by your layout.

Most modern websites that use dynamically generated content will flow correctly when converted to another language, but certain elements may have display problems, and it is important to test your site using a machine translation service to get an idea of how elements are displayed.

Why is translation important?

Problem: Translation does not convey the original interpretation.

Research has shown that customers are most likely to buy products from web sites written in their own language. Many languages contain different dialects that require multiple translations. For example words commonly used in the United States take on different meanings in other cultures. The word pigeon in the United States refers to a bird, whereas in England, pigeon and bird can mean a woman. Many other common words may be misunderstood when read by someone in another country.

Many large companies do offer web sites in a few of the main languages but there are also translation services that can help make your site language friendly. A company should provide for content translation. A technological solution should be 100% accurate.

Why is localization of website important?

Localization means making your site adapted to cultures you’re targeting. While others argued that there are evidences of cultural sensitivity in thematic appearance, interactivity, and content. Therefore localization of website is critical to business success.

How is color important in international websites?

Color is one of the areas where designing a global-friendly site can become most difficult, because what a color connotes can vary greatly depending on culture. Color is something you should be aware of with your website, but don’t feel compelled to obsess over its subtle meanings too much. Focus in on your target or expected markets and find out what colors or color combinations work in those areas.

Examples: In United States green can mean serenity or eco-friendless but in other countries it can mean greed or naïveté; photo of green can indicate an unfaithful husband in China.

Why should you make your shopping cart internationally friendly?

If you sell something on your website and offer international shipping, be sure to offer a way for users to convert payment into their own currency. It just doesn’t make sense to accept payment from international users, to process international shipping, yet only offer the payment amount in one currency.

Society Values and Icons/Graphics

Social values are important to take into account are how society values affect how a business is reacted to and also if they understand the icons/graphics being used. One example is that many men who are not from a western culture refuse to deal with women. So a business run by women may find it difficult to deal with customers from Eastern cultures. Also, icons and graphics need to be taken into consideration as well. Some common icons from one country may be unknown in another.

What are some important design standards to keep in mind designing for culture?