I went from knowing nothing about cultural differences on websites to learning the basics after spending 60 minutes exploring websites. It was simple and you can apply it to learn other aspects. I’ll tell you the main tricks here so you won’t have to look another website in the same way.
Understanding how User Experience (UX) works on websites is about search, compare and look for patterns. The main tool to learn how UX is influenced about culture is out there, and it’s free. You just need to check websites and their versions on different countries.
Let’s start investing one hour. Check one company with worldwide presence. Be careful and choose a good company to analyze, for example Uber, Airbnb, Paypal… there are tons of websites you can check, it’s up to you.
Some websites enables you to change the country (not only the language). If not, you can always use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and select the country you want to explore.
Remember search, compare and look for patterns.
It’s interesting to focus on communication styles and design. Anyway, you have to ask as many questions as you can:
What’s the sales pitch?
What’s the communication style? Direct or indirect? High or low context?
Which is the orientation of the topic? Security, Time… ?
How many arguments do they need to sell it?
Why do they emphasize more in this argument here?
Why do they use a different typography in this country?
Why is the typography bold?
Why do they use a different color for the logo/title/whatever?
Why the content is centered or at the left/right side?
Why are the buttons rounded?
Why this location?
Search, compare and look for patterns. What’s the most common action? Why?
There’s not a definitive guide to understand every aspect of culture differences on website design. It’s a complex topic and it requires an ongoing learning process. Nevertheless, through this method you can get the basics of what companies do different in a bunch of countries. You have to be skeptical, always ask why a company is doing a concrete action and others don’t. They don’t have to be right. In fact, they are always testing.
An important point is to check the same websites regularly. You will notice when they are testing something (they always do) and when they change it. Be alert when they discard a specific action, and take notes. Believe me, this is a cheap, fast and reliable way to learn how to act between different cultures and see what usually works (we can’t be 100% sure) and what doesn’t, and most meaningful, where each action works better.
Invest an hour regularly and you’ll see how powerful is this free method.
It’s simple. It’s rewarding. You’re welcome.