Cross-Cultural Web Design: Differences in Chinese and Western web use and interface design
Abstract: As globalization and technological innovations continue to support the rise of multinational corporations, it has become increasingly pressing for business to cater to a worldwide audience. Particularly, websites from these companies must be both navigable and easily comprehendible to individuals across cultures to cater to global audiences. Interestingly, however, few studies have explored how individuals from different cultural backgrounds may process information differently and, thus, interact with websites differently. In this research, I explore how cross-cultural differences influences user interaction with a website. Specifically, I investigate how individuals from China, who tend to process information holistically, differ from westerners, who tend to process content analytically, in navigating two news sites. In order to accomplish this goal, I created two websites based on western designs (BBC.com, a news site from British Broadcasting Corporation) and eastern designs (QQ.com, a Chinese news site from Tencent QQ) for news sites. I also created a test for users that measured their response times to search queries and sent the information to a database. Additionally, I had participants respond to survey questions to gauge their self-reported perceptions of the news sites. Finally, I analyzed the collected data to test the statistical significance of the differences between groups. My research indicates that 1) there is a significant difference between how Chinese and western users process information, 2) that westerners are more reliant on the F-shaped pattern than easterners, and 3) Chinese individuals are comfortable using a western designed site, suggesting that a universal interface can be deployed cross-culturally.
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