If you decide to design your website for a broad audience there will be a host of challenges and considerations. Fortunately these challenges can be overcome by specifically considering design methods for global audience.
The first thing you should figure out before doing any kind of design work is – who is your audience? To whom do you aim for, what is your target? When you establish this, the rest will easily fall into place. However, if you decided to go global, well, then you will need to work a bit more.
Namely, if your audience is global then designing a website for them will come with a host of challenges. Fortunately these challenges can be overcome by specifically considering design methods for global audience. The primary one is simple, and somewhat clichéd, notion that all cultures are different, yet the same. In other words, you need to leave just enough room for your design to shine and stand out, while at the same time keeping it approachable and clear to a foreign audience. Therein lies the rub, and below you can check out some tips we laid out to assist you.
Minimalism is key
Remember that you will be working towards a very large, international audience. This means that your design needs to not offend anybody, to have room for other cultures, and to be optimized for various different devices that are used all around the globe.
So, keep it simple. Don’t add too many features that would take up space. Don’t focus on certain cultural and direct design features that connect to one nation or language. Avoid placing nation-specific landmarks and signs on your website, this can dissuade others, and make it seem like you prefer one nation to another.
Use general, safe colors
While it may seem simple, getting the right colors is actually very complex. In fact, there is a host of rules that follow any color pallet choice. Another issue that complicates things is the fact that colors influence people’s emotions. Not only biologically, but also in regard to cultural associations and contexts. The actual color choice for flags is probably the best sign for something like this.
However, know that these things vary from culture to culture. You should stick with natural and simple colors, in order to not offend anybody sensibilities. This doesn’t mean you should be boring, but rather, keep things simple and unobtrusive.
Symbols are not always universal
One aspect of global design that people don’t think about are shorthands and symbols. Now, what we mean by this are the things we take for granted. For example, a magnifying glass for a search option. Or, a knife and fork for food. Know that these symbols vary, and they can even confuse certain international customers.
Be certain that you know this symbol would be understood when taking into account your target audience. If you’re not certain, then either just put text there, or perhaps have a designer set up a line of text when you hover over the said symbol.
Optimize for translation
When you translate from one language to another, you need to know that the number of words and characters is not always the same. This can lead to clipping, or just your site seeming empty. Also, remember to have the “change language” button easy to find and easy to use. Furthermore, optimize it in a way that leaves room for some localized info. Your audience will really appreciate it.
Don’t forget about SEO. It is not easy, especially if you’re doing it for another language. Performing a good audit of your search engine optimization can keep things nice and running. The same goes for your mobile optimization – does it have room for the language you’re setting up for? What about payment options?
Think about your layouts
Remember, you are working for a global audience, and, continuing the point made in the translation section of this article, you need to remember that languages are different. You can have the most beautiful of layouts, but if the language you’re localizing in clips, you’re left with just an ugly mess. The spacing is different, the size of the letters, even the direction of where the letters actually move.
So it doesn’t matter where you are from. You could be set up in Australia, hire a good company that deals with professional web design in Sidney, and then focus on people in Indonesia. The main issue here is quality, and remember who your audience is.
Re-think your contact forms
Don’t make an overly complex and difficult to use a contact form. Keep it simple and clear. It should be a universally friendly design. Remember to localize it as well. For instance, certain fields, like zip codes, or states, don’t apply to every country. For some cultures, having the first name first and last name, well, second, doesn’t really make sense.
If you have a list of countries people can choose from when filling out the contact form, be extra careful that the country, actually, exists. Certain countries, like Yugoslavia, or Czechoslovakia, are not really there anymore. It will make you seem unprofessional, or even rude, keeping them there.
Think about your images
You do not want to isolate or exclude certain people from your website with images. You can either localize the website completely, translate both the text, and put new images in, or keep it as neutral as possible. Certain pictures will not sit well, or even make sense, to one nation. If you have a cooking website, and have, front and center, a nice, marbled, cut of beef, you may attract some customers. But, if you’re targeting India, you may put some people off.
If you do decide to localize and place new images, don’t forget about image size. These can influence your load times significantly and can detract.
In sum, the main point to consider is this – remember who your audience is, and remember that cultures differ. Try to be aware of this fact, and you won’t run into any trouble at all.
Author: Nick is a blogger and a marketing expert currently engaged on projects for Media Gurus, an Australian business, and marketing resource. He is an aspiring street artist and does Audio/Video editing as a hobby.