Here at InSync, we like to peruse international websites to see what’s happening in the rest of the world. It keeps us informed and alert about the latest international trends and strategies employed by web designers, developers, programmers, and social media specialists.
You’d be surprised by the differences in culture, technology, and design you can find on the internet if you venture outside the US. While here in North America we are extremely focused on the User Interface and User Experience (UX), you’ll find that many Asian countries prefer a brighter, flashier style that values color and emotions. European websites, by contrast, tend to be more subdued and minimalist.
As a web developing team and media company, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to enhance the user experience and drive more traffic to our clients’ websites.
What’s Involved in Web Design?
When we talk about “web design,” what does it mean? Most people will tell you it’s the process of picking the colors, fonts, and general layouts of each page. But there’s a lot more to web design than meets the eye.
The color palette of a website isn’t chosen by the designer on a whim. Each color evokes an emotional response from the user, and colors have to be carefully considered before including them on the website.
One of the easiest ways to demonstrate this is by looking at fast-food restaurants. It’s no coincidence they often use bright shades of red, yellow, and blue in their color schemes. That’s because these shades create an energetic feeling in the viewer, revving up their appetites and making them feel hungry.
In terms of web design, some industries are linked in people’s minds with specific colors. Silvers and blacks are often used on carmakers’ websites. Green is the color of nature, so gardeners and nature-oriented or wellness websites use it widely. Blue is the color of serenity and loyalty, so it’s a favorite of banks. Red is energetic and often adopted by active and dynamic businesses like gyms.
A great web designer will help their client select a color palette that is both attractive to the eye and elicits the desired emotions in the user.
A single glance at the font on a page can instantly tell you what sort of website it is. That’s why it’s crucial to pick a font that is appropriate for your business.
Curly fonts, for example, look cute and cozy for a children’s website but are completely wrong for a bank or a supermarket. Sans-serif fonts give the website a more modern feeling, while serif fonts add a touch of class and elegance.
Think of the fonts used by corporations, like Coca-Cola’s elaborate cursive font, or the simple yet bold block print of Starbucks. They are memorable and attached to these brands. While hiring a font artist to design a unique font for your website might be a bit outside your budget, selecting the right font goes a long way in helping your clients remember you.
The layout includes where you put your text, buttons, menu, and other necessary items for people to navigate the website. American websites tend to use simple and clear layouts, without too many menus and buttons. There is no need for flashy distractions or buttons that are too chatty. The goal is to get people where they want to go with as little confusion as possible.
When designing a website, you can get so focused on adding all the important elements that you forget about the most important one of all: blank space.
A website crowded with buttons and text and images is only going to overwhelm the user. You need spacing. It’s the background of your website. The blank space on a website not only provides a backdrop for your content, but the contrast actually helps the text and the photos stand out.
Modern American web designers like to use a lot of white space. This makes the information more prominent and adds depth to the overall design.
Everyone likes videos; they give information in a quick and direct way, with no reading required. The users of your website will therefore appreciate the inclusion of videos, especially if they are about how a product is used, satisfied customers making reviews and comments about a service, or an ad about a product or the company.
Multimedia enriches a website, and American web designers often encourage their clients to incorporate them in their design whenever possible.
Animations are great for catching people’s attention and adding movement to an otherwise static page. But they should only be used in certain situations.
Adding animations to your website depends on the type of business you have, the tone you are trying to convey with your website, and your intended audience. Serious websites, such as banks and insurance companies, may balk at including animations. More playful websites, however, particularly ones geared to younger audiences, almost always feature animations.
What Do American Web Designers Value?
American web designers are firm believers of the concept that “the Customer is King.” The user experience is far and away the most important part of a website, with the goal being to provide clients with information in a concise way.
What does this mean in terms of web design? It means clear call-to-action buttons that guide visitors to make a purchase, or to find what they are looking for in a precise and to-the-point style. Layouts are clean and simple, and color palettes shift between shades of the same color. The design of the website should never get in the way of the user accomplishing their goal; if anything, it should make it as easy as possible.
The structure and technology behind modern U.S. websites are designed to maximize download speed. If a page is slow to load, that creates an excuse for your customer to go somewhere else.
Finally, American web pages almost always include validation, such as testimonials, comments, or reviews. These highlight the quality of the business and give an instant image of the sort of service or product customers will receive.
How Do Europeans Approach Web Design?
When it comes to Europe, it’s important to remember it’s not a single, homogeneous country, but a collection of many diverse peoples and cultures.
Through our research and our work with international clients, we know that, in general, Europeans appreciate a minimalist approach to web design. This means larger headers and pictures, as well as a bare-bones structure to navigate the site. The text is concise and the color palette restrained. When possible, European designers use large, modern fonts.
Unlike American websites, which are always pushing for conversions from views to sales, Europeans are more restrained when it comes to calls-to-action. Although their purpose might be identical to their American counterparts—i.e., to bring in revenue—Europeans tend to be more subtle in their approach.
Within Europe, Scandinavians have created a design school of their own. They cherish relevant content and functional websites that are accessible by all—including visually impaired people. Because of the high speed of their Internet connections, they combine a minimal design with high-quality images and videos to reinforce the purpose of their sites.
What Do American and European Web Designers Have in Common?
Both American and European web designers agree that having a mobile-friendly website is key to success.
All websites these days are mobile-friendly, if not mobile-first. They have been optimized for mobile use with concise text, less content, and photos that adjust to smaller-sized devices. The whole User Experience is geared toward mobile use, from the overall design of the website, down to the size of the navigation buttons.
Societies in both Europe and the USA place a higher value on the individual, as opposed to the community. This means that all content on these websites is addressed to “you,” the user, rather than the collective “we.” You, specifically, are called to push a button, subscribe, buy a product, or read an article. The focus is on the user above all else.
This is particularly evident in the photos that are used on websites: most images portray individuals or very small groups of people. The message is clear: we aim at each person individually.
Website Design in Asia
At InSync, we are always amazed at the variety and richness of cultures around the globe. This makes us realize how each website must be geared toward its particular audience, be it cultural, demographic, or professional. That’s why we also pay attention to Asian web design, because it varies so significantly from the Western aesthetic.
Chinese websites love using bright colors and imagery. Japanese web designers add animations in places that European and American designers would never dare. Indian websites often use illustrations to explain or highlight the related text or button.
Chinese and Indian websites prefer using photos with groups of people. As highly collectivist cultures, they like to focus on community and how people relate to each other, rather than the individual.
Asian web designers do not leave as much spacing as Europeans or Americans do. They prefer to pack in more information, text, and colors to grab people’s attention.
Due to different alphabets, their font sizes also differ. Asian web designers have to take into consideration the space that fonts take, and how to adjust them to the overall web design.
InSync Designs for Your Audience
When we design our websites here at InSync, we cater to specific audiences. We listen to our clients and work on how to approach the audience they need to attract. Our web designers create web pages that appeal to these specific audiences.
We apply all the latest technology, mobile apps, and software to provide the experience that your audience will respond to best.