Designing for a multicultural website

Designing an unique multicultural website for all countries… is it possible?

User Culture research

First of all we must identify users, research on them and group them. We should know user’s habits,  thoughts, how they interact…

We will group them by differences on the way of thinking related to what our product needs. If we have a store with a checkout, we should know how users buy on internet and offline, what they are afraid of and what they are expecting.

Once we have created these big groups we should go deeper on each country particularities. As an example, Deutch users need to feel safe and need to trust where they are buying. Arabic countries users read from right to left and have similar interaction patterns. Some of the South American countries are the less worried about security.

Cultural differences

We need to be aware about the impossibility of having an unique wordwide friendly layout. There are many differencies between cultures and behaviours. Anyway, if we want to have presence in different countries, we should decide between:

  1. Design for the biggest business group
    1. Design the best layout for those users always thinking in how could it be useful for other groups.
    2. This is the cheapest and less adapted solution. There will be cultures that won’t match exactly what they need.
    3. Will need a design and development in a modular way
  2. Different layouts for different groups
    1. Design different layouts for different user groups, this needs maintenance for each layout.
    2. It is more expensive than the first option but it will fit to each group and will be more adapted to user needs.

Risking, testing and fixing

The key of having the most adapted website for each culture is to research with local users. We must detect users’ needs and behaviours, take risks on solutions, test on users and fix what seems not be working. Never forget setting the focus on different user cultures and try to create solutions for everyone.


Also published on Medium.

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